Furnace Creek Inn Turns 80
|DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, January 24, 2007 – The elegant Furnace
Creek Inn has received the prestigious AAA Four-Diamond Award for the 25th
consecutive year. The award recognizes the quality of the facilities and
the level of service that Inn guests have come to appreciate over the years.
With 66 rooms and two suites, the resort has long been considered a desert oasis for guests seeking a comfortable getaway in California’s ruggedly beautiful Death Valley National Park. The Furnace Creek Inn turns 80 this year.
Like many great national park hotels, the Furnace Creek Inn was financed and built by a company in an industry not directly related to hospitality. Unlike the great lodges built by the railroads in several of our famous parks, however, the Inn was built by a mining company.
In the 1920s, the Pacific Coast Borax Company followed the lead of the successful Palm Springs Desert Inn and entered the tourism business by building a magnificent Inn for guests to enjoy the rare beauty of Death Valley. Los Angeles architect Albert C. Martin designed the mission-style structure set into the low ridge overlooking Furnace Creek Wash. Adobe bricks were hand made by Paiute and Shoshone laborers. Spanish stonemason Steve Esteves created the Moorish influenced stonework, while meandering gardens and Deglet Noor palm trees were planted.
The Furnace Creek Inn opened on February 1, 1927 with 12 guest rooms, a dining room and lobby area. Room rates were $10 per night and included meals.
Death Valley, California
Over the following eight years, additions were constructed and improvements made. In 1928, construction crews added 10 guest rooms, and in 1929 the Travertine Springs were tapped for electricity and water for a new swimming pool. The spring water is still used for irrigating the Inn’s gardens and flow-through pool. More rooms were constructed until the Inn reached 66 rooms in 1935.
Tourism in Death Valley boomed after the Federal Government designated the region a National Monument in February 1933. This designation resulted in paved roads to and throughout the monument would be constructed, thus heralding automobile and tourist access to the site. In 1994, the area was designated a National Park and expanded to 3.3 million acres, making it the largest park in the continental United States.
While the Furnace Creek Inn was designed as an elegant, world-class destination in a quiet, remote setting, the Furnace Creek Ranch supplemented the hotel's elegance as a closer to nature establishment for families and adventurers.
Just down the street from the Inn is the Furnace Creek Ranch, featuring 224 guest rooms, two restaurants, saloon, general store, gold course and Borax Museum. The area was originally called the Greenland Ranch, but the name was changed in 1933.
In 1956, the Fred Harvey Company, which pioneered hospitality on the railroads carrying Americans to the West, took over the management of the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort. Xanterra Parks & Resorts – then called Amfac Parks & Resorts – purchased the Fred Harvey Company from the family in 1968 including the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort.
Stovepipe Wells – 25 miles from the Inn and Ranch – offers accommodations near the actual trails of pioneers who died seeking their way West. Stovepipe Wells gets its name from the improbable site that early settlers selected to dig a water well. Once water was found, a stovepipe was used to mark the spot for others to identify this important stopping place. Next to Stovepipe Wells is the Burned Wagon Monument, a spot marking the location where the '49ers (pioneers on the fateful 1849 expedition) had to slaughter their oxen for food, burn their wagons to dry the meat and proceed on foot westward out of Death Valley.
One of the most famous prospectors in Death Valley was Walter Scott, better known as "Death Valley Scotty," a colorful and engaging character who at one time performed in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. Scotty, along with Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson, built a spectacular 25-room Moorish-style castle between 1922 and 1931. Located 55 miles north of Furnace Creek, the castle is a showplace drawing thousands of visitors each year. Speculation exists as to whether Scotty discovered a secret gold mine, which financed the castle's construction - or if Johnson's fortune funded the project.
Scotty's Castle is a complex of more than eight buildings that house some of the most beautiful interiors, furniture, tile work and accessories in all of Southern California. Johnson, his wife Bessie, and Scotty brought artisans, architects and crafts people from Spain, Italy and throughout the United States to work on the intricate details of the castle. Paiute and Shoshone Indians served as laborers during its construction.
Many of the castle's rooms were outfitted by Hungarian designer Martin de Dubovay using original decor, including imported tiling, and sculpted brass fixtures and furniture. Johnson also wanted music at the castle, so the extraordinary music room - which features a vaulted redwood ceiling with intricate hand-carved patterning - is the home of a rare Welte Pipe Organ with more than 1,121 pipes of up to 16 feet in length. All the furnishings and design of Scotty's Castle serve as prototypes for today's Southwest art and decor.
The Furnace Creek Inn is open from mid-October through mid-May. The Furnace Creek Inn is features fine dining, tennis courts and a spring-fed pool. Open year-round is the Furnace Creek Ranch. Situated adjacent to the golf course, the Ranch features 224 rooms in a casual setting, general store, spring-fed swimming pool, tennis courts, horseback riding and the Borax Museum.
For more information about facilities in Death Valley National Park or to make reservations at in-park lodges, call toll free at 1-888-297-2757 or 1-303-297-2757 or go to www.furnacecreekresort.com.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts (consisting of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc. and Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C.) operates lodges, restaurants and other concessions at national parks and state parks and resorts. Xanterra Parks & Resorts is the country’s largest national park concessioner. Xanterra operates concessions in the following locations: Yellowstone, the North Rim of Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest national parks, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial; and at the Silverado Resort in Napa, Calif.; Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and eight Ohio State Parks. Its affiliate Xanterra South Rim, L.L. C. operates concessions at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
|Also See:||Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort Receives 12 Zero-emissions Ford TH!NK Electric Vehicles; Donated by Ford Motor Company / June 2002|