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Hard Luck Castle - anyone else been there?

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 11:35 pm
by Candace_66
During my recent travels, I stopped off to tour the Hard Luck Castle.

This is located outside DVNP, north of Scotty's Castle and southeast of Gold Point. In 1998, Randy Johnston bought this piece of land, and two years later started building his "castle." There are plenty of pics on the website showing the interior and exterior.

An amazing amount of work has gone into the place. Actually, this started with the original mining cabin on the property, which he fixed up before starting on the castle. The cabin is now available for visitors to rent. Meanwhile, even after 12 years, the castle is still a work-in-progress. Despite this, Randy told me he is hoping to sell it (including all furnishings and everything on the property) to buy a boat! Then he would live on that and travel at will.

For me, that site would be too remote to live there all the time. Beatty is over an hour drive away, Tonopah an hour and a half. If you need something you can't get in those towns, you're driving all the way to Vegas.


Also, the design and the size of the place are too much for my plain-vanilla tastes! Speaking of the size of it, he mentioned he won't be heating it this winter due to the price of propane. Of course, this means he had to drain the plumbing system so, no running water either. If he does find a buyer, the place will still be unfinished; at this point, even the kitchen isn't completed.

Anyone else visited there? What did you think of it? Or even if you haven't been there, what's your opinion?

Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:12 am
by Panamint Charlie
A bunch of us from did a trip there and to the surrounding areas a year or so ago.

It's a cool set-up he's got. I was more interested in his steel garage/workshop, but that wasn't part of the tour.

The castle is setup in two sections. The main castle levels that have a lot of loose ends that need to be finished and then there is the lower level (think Basement) that is a completed living quarters with an additional kitchen, bath, and what-not.

He is able to close the living quarters off from the rest of the castle and heat just that area if he wants. I don't think he's got any type of air conditioning though. He says the thermal mass of the place helps to keep it cool. Too bad he didn't use double or triple pane glass though.

His biggest issue is lack of water. He said he was trucking it in. If he could hit some good water with a solar well, he might have better luck selling the place.

It's well worth a visit if anyone here finds themselves in the area.

Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:22 am
by Candace_66
Yes, he's still trucking in the water. And you're reight about the downstairs area. But my fave part down there were the old school pinball machines in the game room. :cool:

I liked the lift he installed in the workshop, he had his pickup truck up on it to do some work. I'd love to have my own garage with a lift in it!

I realize it's at a fairly high elevation, but I still think it will get uncomfortably warm at times without the AC (something the building doesn't have). That glass-enclosed observation deck on top of the tower is effectively a greenhouse. It will definitely be toasty in the summer: it was quite warm the day I was there. But like he said, it would be nice for star-gazing on a cool night.

Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:14 am
by Older Fossil
A small group of us first stumbled onto the Hard Luck Castle while exploring the area north-east of the park. We didn't know anything about the place and were wary at first about driving in. But one Jeep drove up and found Randy most hospitable. Randy gave us quite the tour and told us of his plans for the castle. This was probably about 2004, and the building was only about half done (no roof yet).

We went back in 2007 with Kit and Ryan from Beatty to check on his progress. He had added one more floor of outer wall.

We went by around New Years 2009-2010 and noticed that he had a sign out by the highway offering tours. But the gate was locked and nobody appeared to be there on this visit. We did notice that he had finally gotten the roof and observation room finished.


Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:29 am
by D.A. Wright
The only time I visited the castle was in July, 2003, when author Alan Patera and I visited in doing the ground work for Alan's WESTERN PLACES series of books, this one being on the Gold Mountain region.

Randy Johnson was in the early stages of building his castle.




The first floor was simply an open expanse of concrete. The work was in the basement. Randy was installing systems and a theater.

Randy would periodically pass through Big Pine when I lived there, stopping in at a mutual friend's home there. The last time I visited with Randy was at Big Pine about 2006 or 2007. He had some fairly serious health issues at the time.

Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:34 pm
by Morrie
We stumbled across it by accident a few weeks ago. Amazing place. We didn't take the tour because we were in a hurry, but it looked pretty much "finished".

I love the idea of remoteness and self-sufficiency. I could deal with driving 100 miles for supplies and trucking in water, but no high speed Internet would be a killer.

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:17 pm
by Candace_66
Did it look like anyone was there? I wonder if Randy is still spending any time there, let alone finishing up all the interior work and projects he had going on at the time I visited.

Apparently it's still up for sale: ... /200741711

If there was a reliable water source on the property, I'd think a "prepper" or "survivalist" type might be interested...

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 4:33 am
by Morrie
Yes, 2 people and 2 dogs where there, one of which was likely Randy. It's still open for tours.

Posted: Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:02 pm
by Candace_66
On Sept. 25, The Pahrump Valley Times ran an article about the Hard Luck Castle & Mine: ... ience.html

Evidently, Randy hasn't found a buyer yet.

Posted: Tue May 24, 2016 2:48 pm
by Candace_66
Apparently this is still for sale! The price is now down to $1.5 million.

A few articles about this have come out this year. The best one is this from the Las Vegas Review-Journal: ... 15-million

For one thing, this explains where he got the money to build this edifice (something I'd wondered about): He's been spending his "sizable inheritance" on it!

It's also odd that he wants to sell because his health is declining and the castle site is far from the doctor. But if he sells Hard Luck, he plans to get a boat and "disappear on a new adventure." If he's sailing around on the ocean he may be even farther from a doctor!

Then there's this quote: "The final insult came when a massive flood closed Highway 267, stopping the flow of visitors whose $10 tour donations helped keep him going after his inheritance ran out."

So he spent his whole inheritance on this place!? And now I'm not sure who, if anyone, will buy it, even if he reduces the price much farther. I can't help but wonder what his kids think about it! Maybe they're just happy the old man did what the hell he wanted to do with the money. :cool:

Posted: Tue May 24, 2016 3:37 pm
by Morrie
That has been the price for some months. If I were a bit younger (not so likely to need a doctor) and ready to retire, I would seriously consider this place. $1.5 million is really nothing, considering what modest houses cost nowadays (in California anyway). Maybe a few years off the grid and a half day drive to the nearest store would eventually take its toll, but the idea of being out there in such a remote place, especially in the desert, always appealed to me.

It would be hard to live without fast Internet though.

Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:00 pm
by Candace_66
I visited again on May 27 and took the tour to see how things have progressed since I was last there.

The most noticeable change on the outside is the new white obelisk, featuring the names of every POTUS on one side, and some wisdom (or clichés, depending how you look at it) on another side.

Inside, Randy is currently busy getting the theater organ (one of two organs in the house) operational. While I was there, a fellow from Beatty was there working in the basement on the electronics. The computers and circuitry shown in my pics are part of this project.

Randy told me he hadn't had any serious offers yet, but this month some representatives from a large Pagan (!) group were coming to look at it. Apparently they're considering it as a sort of retreat.





Re: Hard Luck Castle - anyone else been there?

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:50 am
by Candace_66
It's still up for sale! The price is now down to $900,000, here's the new listing:

Also, yesterday published an article about the place: ... esert.html

Maybe the price reduction and/or the extra publicity will help Randy finally sell this place ?!

Re: Hard Luck Castle - anyone else been there?

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:09 pm
by Candace_66
Someone started a "save Hard Luck Mine Castle" GoFundMe. I haven't reached out to this person yet, so I'm not sure what the exact point is. Randy has said he's selling due to health reasons, not financial reasons. :?:

Re: Hard Luck Castle - anyone else been there?

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:16 pm
by D.A. Wright
I am wary of crowd source funding, with all the fraudulent schemes coming to light lately. If Randy’s castle page shows a link and plea for support, then I’d trust money would flow to him, and not an imposter.