Boone County Public Library

2016.06 - BCPL Newsletter

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"Death Valley Scotty" was a man as colorful as his name. Through- out his 82 years, Walter Scott played many roles: adventurer, cowboy, gold prospector, millionaire and talented flim flam man. His most celebrated undertaking was the 1905 record breaking, cross-country run of a train which came to be known as the "Scott Special." The train, which consisted of a locomotive engine and three cars, made its way from Los Angeles to Chicago in 44 hours and 54 minutes. The locomotive was changed 18 times throughout the journey, to avoid technical issues, but the equipment was standard. The "Scott Special's" 2,265 mile run beat the previous re- cord-holder by nearly eight hours, and the record held for over twenty years. The trip was designed to promote the Big Bell Mine, and was funded by mine owner E. B. Gaylord. Gaylord hoped the spectacle would advertise his mining operation, but he ended up funding the promotion of Walter Scott's legendary persona. The train was front-page news for three days in papers across the country, and crowds of thousands came out to watch it pass. Legend has it, Scott threw out handfuls of dollar bills to the crowd in Chicago at the trip's end. The flamboyant "Death Valley Scotty" has local roots. He was born in 1872, the youngest of six, to George and Elizabeth Perry Scott. They lived near Dry Creek, and differing accounts place his birth in either Boone or Ken- ton County; the extended family settled in both localities. The Scotts moved to Cynthiana when Walter was a toddler. His mother died when he was a young boy, and George soon remarried. Walter's thirst for adventure came early; he left Kentucky at the age of eleven, and joined his brothers who were working as surveyors in Nevada and California. A few years later, Wal- ter's equestrian skills were noticed by a recruiter for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and he was hired. After leaving the show, twelve years later, Walter turned his attention to gold pros- pecting. He began convincing many wealthy investors that he held rights to a lucrative mine. One of his investors, Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson, came west to investigate the operation in person. He joined Scott in Death Valley, and though it was clear that the success of the mine was a ruse, Johnson was charmed by Scott, and they became great friends. The climate of the West was beneficial to Johnson's health, and he built an elaborate 22,000 square foot home in the desert. Scott lived on the property, and promoted it as a tourist destination. Though he never owned the property, it became known as "Scotty's Castle." Walter Scott died in 1954, and is buried on the property. Florence Branch: Ann Ryan's Fairy Lamps Scheben Branch: Discover Earth Traveling Exhibition Walton Branch: June Brides: Dolls from Sharon Franklin's Collection. On display L Boone County Public Library BCP Main Library 1786 Burlington Pike, Burlington, KY 41005 Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Scheben Branch 8899 US 42, Union, KY 41091 Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Florence Branch 7425 US 42, Florence, KY 41042 Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Walton Branch 21 South Main, Walton, KY 41094 Mon.-Tues. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Wed.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Chapin Memorial Library 6517 Market St., Petersburg, KY 41080 Monday Noon-8 p.m. Tuesday Noon-6 p.m. Wednesday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday Noon-8 p.m. Friday Noon-6 p.m. Visit our Digital Branch Five locations to serve you — one phone number: 859-342-BOOK (2665) 1786 Burlington Pike Burlington, Kentucky 41005 Death Valley Scotty by Hillary Delaney, Local History Associate Nonprofit U.S. Postage PAID Florence, KY Permit No. 50 Would you like to receive this newsletter via email? Or choose to have it mailed to your home? Visit our website:, click on Events and sign up. You'll also find an option to sign up for occasional email updates about special events and new services at the Library.

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