A Historical Chronology (Backgrounder)
1849: The “Jayhawkers” set out from Utah to join the Gold Rush. Attempting to shorten their journey, the emigrants traverse the desolate basin of Death Valley. After five weeks of thirst and near starvation, the Jayhawkers leave the place where they came so close to death, and a woman is heard saying, “Goodbye Death Valley.”
1881: The discovery of borax in Death Valley by Aaron and Rosle Winters leads to the valley’s most profitable mining period.
1882: Francis Marion Smith or “Borax Smith” expands his operations by developing the Winters’ claim at Furnace Creek, naming the sight Harmony Borax. Large wagons measuring 16 feet long and pulled by 20 mule teams are used to transport the borax.
1904: Walter “Scotty” Scott, probably the most famous prospector to come out of Death Valley, meets his future partner Albert Johnson.
1922: Johnson begins construction on what would eventually become Scotty’s Castle.
1926: The Pacific Coast Borax Company decides to enter the tourism business by beginning construction on a magnificent Inn for guests to enjoy the beauty of the valley.
1927: The Furnace Creek Inn opens February 1, 1927 with 12 guestrooms.
1928: Ten rooms are added to the Furnace Creek Inn, completing the U Shaped Terrace level.
1929: A lounge and recreation room is constructed at the Inn between the Terrace rooms and the pool.
1930: Twenty one rooms, each with private balconies and fireplaces, are added with the construction of the North Wing. This year also sees the start of the popular Death Valley Days radio show.
1930: The Furnace Creek Golf Course opens. It is the world’s lowest grass golf course and the first grass course built in the California desert region.
1933: President Hoover signs Proclamation Number 2028, creating the Death Valley National Monument. Furnace Creek Camp (now Ranch) opens.
1935: The Furnace Creek Inn is completed incorporating an impressive use of mission style architecture.
1938: Flash flood takes out seven miles of telephone line, roadway, irrigation ditches, pipelines and the stone arch framing the driveway to the Inn.
1942-45: Due to World War II, operations at the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort are suspended.
1945: Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort reopens.
1948: Albert Johnson dies at the age of 76.
1954: Borax office (the oldest building in Death Valley – built in 1883 by Borax Smith) is moved to the Furnace Creek Ranch Borax Museum.
1954: “Death Valley Scotty” dies on January 5 at age 82.
1956: U.S. Borax Company enters agreement for the Fred Harvey Company of Chicago to lease and operate the Death Valley hotel properties.
1966: The Fred Harvey Company purchases the Death Valley hotels from U.S. Borax.
1968: Furnace Creek Golf Course re-opens as 18-hole course.
1968: AMFAC (now Xanterra) Parks & Resorts buys the Fred Harvey Company; including the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort.
1970: Scotty’s Castle and Johnson’s other Death Valley holdings are sold to the National Park Service by the Gospel Foundation.
1985-86: Inn guestrooms renovated and Inn pool retiled.
1994: Death Valley is established as a National Park making it the largest park in the continental United States.
1995:AMFAC (now Xanterra) Parks & Resorts buys TW Recreational Services.
1997: The lobby and Oasis Level of the Furnace Creek Inn are remodeled.
1997: World-renown architect Perry Dye redesigns the Furnace Creek Golf Course.
1997: Furnace Creek Inn becomes member of Historic Hotels of America.
1998: All guestrooms of the Furnace Creek Inn are refurbished.
1999: Furnace Creek Inn begins adobe restoration and preservation work.
2002: Furnace Creek Inn celebrates its 75th Anniversary by burying a time capsule in the Anniversary Gardens.
2002: AMFAC changes its name to Xanterra Parks & Resorts®, Inc.
2002: Inn pool retiled with palm frond motif.