Popular Scotty's Castle could be closed for years

LAS VEGAS - The story of Scotty's Castle is one of the most interesting tales from Death valley.

Built on fraud in the 1920's, the stunning property has been a popular attraction for years. But today, it's off limits after suffering flood damage in 2015.

The property and roads around it were damaged after a huge mudslide in Oct. 2015. The National Park Service is prepared to spend a lot of money getting things back to normal but it'll be a long and complicated job.

Abby Wines' drive to work never used to be like this. It's now an obstacle course of dirt and debris.

"Just a lot of trees and mud and rocks," Wines said.

A landscape unexpectedly renovated by bad weather.

"Where we are was filled with mud," said U.S. Park Ranger Wines.

"Just a sticky, goopy mess."

Wines led tours at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley for 12 years. The peculiar oasis in the desert was her passion. Then it washed away.

"Three inches of rain in five hours," Wines said. "That caused a flood about a third the size of the Colorado River in the main part of this canyon. I walked into my office, saw my desk with papers completely intact. Saw the mud about two inches below the desk, just sat down in the mud and cried."

The mud surrounded the historic structure, caked itself around buildings, pushed walls from their foundations, tore apart water and power lines and destroyed the only road to the property.

"It's probably going to take about a year-and-a-half worth of work to restore the castle," she said.

It took four months to cleanup. The castle looks fine from afar but wall cracks prove the damage is there.

"Above those gun racks, the wall leaked there," Wines points out the damage.

However, it's beyond the castle where the real challenge lies.

A year-and-a-half after the storm, and the damage is still there. Part of the road are basically gone. That's the part that is expensive, getting the roads back to the way they were.

"The whole park is made out of brown sugar. As soon as you add a little water, it dissolves and floats away," said David Blacker, Death Valley Natural History Association.

He leads the association which is taking care of the castle's artifacts. It's also raising money to help get it open again.

"It would minimize Death Valley to not have Scotty's Castle," he said.

Between the roads, the water lines and the structural damage, Wines says it'll cost at least $48 million to restore the canyon and the castle.

It probably won't reopen until 2020.

That's a lot of time and money, but the park knows it's worth it. Eventually, the landslide will be history too.

So where might that money come from? Fixing the road, it will be the Federal Highway Administration. Fixing everything else will come from the National Park Service itself and fees you pay to go there. If you want to weigh in on the park's plans, there's a public comment period now.

Here is a link with more information. 

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