102°F
weather icon Clear

Hard Luck Mine Castle near Death Valley lists for $900K — VIDEO

Updated March 12, 2019 - 1:35 am

Randy Johnston started out building a home in 2000 without knowing what the result would be. All he wanted was a place that gave him seclusion some 187 miles from Las Vegas near Death Valley.

By the time he finished more than a decade ago, what started as a 50-foot round house to deal with strong winds in the desert turned into a four-story, Gothic-style castle that has became a tourist attraction.

Now the 72-year-old Johnston wants to trade that secluded lifestyle in to travel the country in a trailer with his two dogs. He has listed his home, known as the Hard Luck Mine Castle, for $900,000. The name is for the claim where gold was mined until World War II.

Johnston owned a plumbing business in the Lake Tahoe area when he traveled to Esmeralda County in the 1980s and found the property by accident. He and his son, Randy, were driving their VW buggy through a nighttime snowstorm looking for a place to camp for the night when they pulled up alongside the cabin from out of the fog.

In the 1990s, he started traveling to the cabin, which is about 35 miles south of Goldfield and 20 miles from Death Valley’s Scotty’s Castle, just to get out of the snow of Lake Tahoe. When the cabin and its 40 acres were for sale, he bought the property in 1998 with the intention of fixing up the cabin and living in it.

Johnston checked with Esmeralda County and learned he didn’t have to obtain permits, pay fees or undergo inspections. That was enough for him to return to Lake Tahoe, sell 10 cottages he rebuilt and rented out and use the proceeds for his dream home.

“I was just going to fix up the cabin, and when I found I could do what I wanted, I decided to build a home I wanted rather than what I was told I had to build,” Johnston said. “I just started building from the ground and worked my way up, and I got this.”

Johnston said he always wanted to build his own home since he was young after helping his dad and three brothers build their own homes.

All Johnston had in mind when he started building was a round design. His experience in the cabin taught him that wood doesn’t last long in a windy desert environment. He opted instead for concrete blocks, steel and glass.

“When I started building, people came up the road and asked what I was doing, and I said I was just building a house,” Johnston said. “Everybody stared, saying this is a castle, and that’s how the name came up.”

Some media reports have portrayed it as a doomsday house, but it was never built for that, Johnston said. It’s at an elevation of 6,000 feet and built on a mountain, and it’s only meant for seclusion and quiet to get out of the city, he added.

The walls are 16 inches of concrete to handle the weight of the home, which measures 8,000 square feet over four stories. Johnston jackhammered the granite to pour the footings in 2000, laid the blocks, numbering 24,000, and fabricated the metal for the home, which has 7 tons of rebar and more than 1,000 yards of concrete. He was helped by two friends.

There are four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two kitchens.

The main entrance is on the second level and has doors and windows that look like they belong in castle with their arches and use of redwood in the door. The enclosed entryway pays homage to the “Wizard of Oz” with a labyrinth of the Yellow Brick Road and emerald in the floor to represent Emerald City.

Off to the right is what Johnston calls the great room, which was designed with pipe organs in mind. It has a 28-foot ceiling, highlighted by a rebuilt Wurlitzer organ from the 1920s. There is a second 1920s organ in the room, and it’s fitting that a musical sheet on it is from “Phantom of the Opera.”

On cold winter days when temperatures can dip below 20, there is a fireplace to warm the room. The castle has 22 propane heaters for all 22 rooms.

There is no cooling system because it rarely reaches 90, and Johnston said the cinder blocks keep it cool in the summer. The castle is powered by solar panels and wind power and has backup generators.

On the other side of the second level, there is a dining room, a kitchen and a bathroom. On the outside of the castle is a catwalk balcony.

In the center of the home is a circular stairwell that spirals against the wall and leads to the third and fourth stories. A fountain sits at the bottom of the staircase, and chandelier hangs from the ceiling above. The third level has two bedrooms and a bathroom and chamber room for the organ pipes.

Higher up the stairwell is the observatory for looking at the stars and nearby military test site. The light at the top is 62 feet above the ground.

The lower level of the home has two bedrooms, a kitchen, woodshop and theater room. Next to the home is an automotive workshop and down the hill is a miner’s cabin.

The 40 acres are covered with hillsides and desert with an unpaved road that connects to State Route 267. The place is surrounded by Bureau of Land Management acreage.

The site is suited for Jeeps and all-terrain vehicles, and Johnston said his relatives visit to take advantage of that. It’s why Johnston said he envisions the castle becoming a bed-and-breakfast.

There is no well on the site, and water is supplied to the home with a 4,000-gallon, underground tank. The sale includes mineral rights, but Johnston hasn’t pursued mining the site, according to Brian Krueger, a senior vice president with Coldwell Banker Premier Realty, the listing agent.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Real Estate Millions Videos
Sun City Summerlin Dream Home - Real Estate Millions
Bob and Doralee have recently built there new dream retirement home in Sun City that mimics the style of there previous home.
Top 10 Most Expensive Homes in Las Vegas - Video
These are the top 10 most expensive homes sold in Las Vegas.
Lake Las Vegas Blue Heron Vantage Views
Video courtesy Lake Las Vegas Media/Drone Las Vegas & Black Room Productions
Golden Knight's owner Bill Foley's House for sale in The Ridges - Real Estate Millions
Peter Lik Designs Homes In Las Vegas - Video
Photographer Peter Lik has teamed up with Jewel Homes to design new homes for Las Vegas that take inspiration from different parts of the world.
Real Estate Millions: Temple Rock Court Boulder City
Temple Rock Court features four bedrooms, fourth bathrooms and is listed at $1.5 million.
Mount Charleston Home - Real Estate Millions
Louis Castle shows off his Mount Charleston home with beautiful view of the mountain.
Pardee Homes Terra Luna Wins Home Of The Year - VIDEO
Pardee Homes' Terra Luna in Summerlin wins the Silver Nugget's 2019 home of the year award.
Real Estates Millions: Midcentury Remodel - Video
Originally built in 1966, this Midcentury Remodel has been modernized to appeal to the masses. The larger than life windows brighten up the entire home and offer brilliant views of the nearby mountains and golf course.
Real Estate Millions: Lake Las Vegas (23 Summer House Drive)
Real Estate Millions: Angeles Home In MacDonald Highlands - VIDEO
Angeles Scorsetti's nearly 10,000-square-foot home she and her husband, Steve Mason, purchased on the Dragon Ridge Golf Course and spent six months remodeling, leaving behind their Mandarin Oriental penthouse where they lived 8 years above the Strip.
Real Estate Millions: Boulder City Home - VIDEO
Mal Farmer takes us on a tour of her Bolder City home that she remodeled and lived it with her late husband Richard for over 30 years.
Real Estate Million: 27 Shadow Canyon Court - VIDEO
27 Shadow Canyon is a $5.5 million dollar home is 9,825 square-feet with six bedrooms and 7 baths. Shadow Canyon is equipped with an assortment of Tesla Amenities including power walls, solar panels, and an electric car.
Real Estate Millions: 2019 New American Remodel
Real Estate Millions: Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort - VIDEO
Various RV owners living in the community of the Las Vegas Motorcoach Resorts gives the crew a tour of their motor homes.
Real Estate Millions: Brett Raymer's Tanked Home - VIDEO
Brett Raymer from the TV show "Tanked" gives us a look into his 4 story home on the edge of Lone mountain. What would a tanked home be without a 700-gallon custom aquarium in the kitchen and a 6,000-gallon Koi pond in its resort-style backyard.
Real Estate Millions: 460 Probst Way
460 Probst Way is listed for $4.5 million and has 5 bedrooms, 6 baths, 4 car garage and is 6,738 square feet. The home is in a gated compound with an outdoor pool, deck, and kitchen with near 360 degree of the las vegas valley. The house will be auctioned on April 26-29th.
Real Estate Millions: Home + History Tour - VIDEO
A 1963 Paradise Palms home. Originally called the Monterey, the open floor plan features a living, dining and kitchen area in main living area, original hardwood flooring, original central vac system, both master bathrooms have original starburst tile and vanities, fully renovated kitchen with quartz counters and new appliances, waterfall edge island with counter seating, ‘Cosmos,’ a Soviet-inspired lounge with fog machine, laser lights, sound system and full bar, fresh paint, retro furnishings, new carpet, pool, pool deck with seating and covered bar, lifetime block and steel construction.
Real Estate Millions: Jim Rhodes Home Most Expensive In Las Vegas - VIDEO
Jim Rhodes has created the most expensive home on the market in Las Vegas. The home is listed at $29,995,000, 9,798 sq. ft., 8 Bedrooms, 8 Full Baths, 2 Half Baths and has 360-degree views of the Las Vegas Strip.
Pawn Stars Rick Harrison Real Estate Millions - VIDEO
Reality TV star Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars shows his eccentric home off in the Red Rock Country Club. The house is 8,845 square feet. It has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms and three additional rooms. It is listed at $3,999,999.
Real Estate Millions: Boulder City Home (613 Lido Dr) - VIDEO
Sitting on top of a mountain overlooking the Lake Mead recreation area, Scott Baranoff gives a tour of his 4,655 square feet Frank Lloyd-Wright inspired home in Boulder City.
Real Estate Millions: Hard Luck Mine Castle
Real Estate Millions: Flip or Flop Vegas
Real Estate Millions: Myron Martin
Real Estate Millions: $15M Palms Place Penthouse
Phil Maloof’s Palms Place Penthouse, which takes up the entire 59th-floor, is for sale for $15 million. (Samia DeCubas/Real Estate Millions)
Real Estate Millions: The New American Home 2019
Real Estate Millions: The highest-priced condos sold in Las Vegas in 2018
Real Estate Millions: One Queensridge Place
Real Estate Millions: 1210 Macdonald Ranch
Real Estate Millions: Jonathan Marchessault
Vegas Golden Knight Jonathan Marchessault, shows off his Summerlin home.
Marc-Andre Fleury selling Las Vegas home for $2.5M - VIDEO
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has put his custom Southern Highlands home on the market for $2.5 million. The single-story home, built on a .63-acre lot in 2015, measures 5,285 square feet and has a 717-square-foot casita and three-car garage. It has five bedrooms and six baths. Fleury bought the home from former NHL player and fellow Canadian Sheldon Souray, according to public records. When he signed his three-year, $25M contract extension over the summer, Fleury told the media he and his family love Las Vegas and cited its great schools and neighborhoods with a lot of things for kids to do. Fleury said he and his family love their home in Southern Highlands, but wanted to be “closer to the Summerlin area." Home photos courtesy of Ivan Sher Group
THE LATEST
 
Vegas couple remodels retirement home into mini-mansion— VIDEO

After more than 10 years, the Raes are moving again. This time, to a home half the size in Sun City, Summerlin, that they’ve already customized, decorated and outfitted with the finest accouterments.

New Las Vegas mansions draw celebrities

Oakland Raiders President Marc Badain and two YouTube sensations are among the high-profile buyers of the 20 highest priced newly constructed luxury homes closed in 2019.

Luxury new home closings of $1 million-plus up 41 percent in 2019

The new home luxury market is surging during the first six months of 2019 despite a decline in the housing market overall, and MacDonald Highlands and Summerlin continue to dominate the marketplace with a combined 80 new home closings of $1 million or more.

Market has 63 listings of $5 million or more

The sales of existing luxury homes in Southern Nevada remains strong and shows no signs of slowing through the end of the year as the influx of Californians buying up properties continues.

 
Rhodes’ Spanish Hills home leads top resales of 2019 — VIDEO

An uber luxury Spanish Hills home lived in by its builder Jim Rhodes that set the second highest resale value in Las Vegas history at $16 million tops the list for the most expensive sale so far in 2019.

 
Blue Heron leader in the Vegas modern movement

Blue Heron’s newest game-changer is emulated in its Vegas Modern 001 (VM001). The new 14,100-square-foot, three-level show home at 685 Dragon Peak Drive inside the prestigious Macdonald Highlands Dragons Reserve.

 
Linda Faiss’ Boulder City home lists for $1.5M

Faiss’ Santé Fe estate, 835 Temple Rock Court is listed for $1.5 million through Bret Runion, broker of Desert Sun Realty.