DEATH VALLEY, CA. HISTORY        In the years spanning 1923-1925, the Pacific Coast Borax Company built a self-supporting settlement for its own use. The "town" consisted of corporate offices, dormitories, a general store, a hotel, hospital and employees headquarters. A recreation hall was also constructed that served host to movies, dances, weddings, funerals, church services and town meetings. This building came to known as Corkhill Hall. Alexander Hamilton McCulloch was the architect who designed the entire development. The buildings as befitted their location were designed in Spanish Colonial-style. Abandoned Corkhill Hall - before the sale        Mining for Borax in those times was a lucrative endeavor. Some will remember the Borax Company's "twenty-mule teams" depicted on commercials during the old Death Valley Days TV show of the early 60's, hosted by future U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The Borax Company was the show's main corporate sponsor. These teams actually did exist and did haul the Borax to processing plants south of the mines.        These days little is left of the town except for empty buildings and the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House. In 1967, a woman named Marta Becket, who was a dancer and artist from New York City, was on tour in the area when her trailer blew a tire. While her husband Tom Williams tended to it, she came upon the recreation hall and peered inside. What she saw inside both excited and fascinated her - a stage. Mrs. Becket, a believer in fate and kismet says she knew right then and there that this place was her destiny. Before leaving New York, a fortune teller told her she would move to a far-away rural area and the letter "A" would play a big role in it. The following day the couple leased the building.        They discovered that before 1907 the town was called Amargosa, the Spanish word for "bitter". It was then she decided on a name for her new purchase and they set about restoring the adobe opera house and the adjoining hotel to something resembling its original state.        At first there were nights where Mrs. Becket would dance to an empty room, performing her craft as though she was playing to the masses. Even now, at the advanced age of 83, she performs each weekend from October to May and the curtain goes up promptly at 8:15. The difference is that on most evenings now, the 120-seat theater is full. As a dancer and performer, Marta remains a study in grace and fluidity even in her later years. She usually creates two shows per year and performed for years with her co-star and new companion (her husband Tom Williams left in 1982), Tom Willet, who passed away in 2005. "I love theater. I love dance," she once said. "When I found this place, I was preserving the life I wanted to live. If no one came, I would still have my work. The joy is in the effort."  Marta Becket's 'Sit Down Show' by Never Cool in School        The opera house is also adorned with her paintings and various artwork, a task that began in 1968 and concluded in 1972. The opera house walls (below) depict a king and queen, courtesans, bullfighters, priests and Gypsies. The ceiling (second photo) looks like a kind of pseudo-Sistine Chapel with billowing clouds, cherubs and a central dome depicting 16 women playing antique instruments. The hotel lobby wall contains her latest work (third photo), a depiction of the hotel crumbling beneath the fury of a desert sandstorm while a woman in a ballerina costume floats above it all - safe from harm. Most inspiring are the walls of the opera house that illustrate rows and rows of various and eclectic audience members, all painstakingly hand-painted by Marta herself.     Opera House Ceiling   Marta's future vision of the hotel          Over time, word of Marta's endeavors spread and the curious made the trip out to Death Valley to see what the fuss was about. This resulted in donations of 105 garden chairs from patrons who saved green stamps and a nine-foot concert grand piano from Mr. & Mrs. Ellsworth Johnson who lived in Spokane, Washington.        With help from friends in the legal profession, The Amargosa Opera House, Inc. bought the town of Death Valley Junction, CA.  In 1981 the Amargosa Hotel & Opera House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. (The Amargosa is also listed in the National Register of Haunted Places.) By 1983 the theater had purchased 120 theater seats from the Boulder City, (NV.) Theater to replace the garden chairs which had begun to fall apart. In 1984, the theater paid off it's final mortgage payment on Death Valley Junction in the sum of $26,500.  More good news came the way of the Amargosa in 1999 in the form of a grant from Save Our Treasures, a national organization that targets and helps fund renovations of historical buildings. In 2006, an episode of Criss Angel: Mindfreak involved a Halloween night seance held at the Amargosa.  Amargosa Opera House by unwiredadventures   THE HAUNTINGS OF THE AMARGOSA        "Spooky Hollow" (below) is the area of the hotel that remains un-restored. This building housed the original men's and women's dormitories. Room 32 is said to contain a threatening, malevolent presence that gives visitors the chills. It is known that hanging took place in that room and it's speculated that a former "boss" of the miners may have resided there. In Room 24, "the baby crying room", its said the spirit of an infant whose cries are heard through the night remains there. Guests have even complained of being kept awake only to discover there are no children registered there during their stay.        In the hotel area, guests have reported footsteps coming down hallways and the scent of lilacs or another strong perfume. Hotel manager Richard Regnell says, "We don't do anything to make the rooms smell like that. They just do."  Wall Painting in Amargosa Hotel        One hotel employee, Brittany Jenkins, recalls a rather humid day when she was cleaning the shower area in one of the rooms when the shower turned itself on, completely soaking her. Once a month at least, guests have been known to pack their bags and abruptly leave because something unexplained has happened to them.        The spirit of Tom Willet, Marta's former manager and beau, is said to haunt the opera house, sitting in one of the chairs and observing what goes on. Unusual EMF spikes have been caught by investigators with no visible sign of its source.        In Room 9 (below) of the main hotel a presence has been known to sit down on the bed while people are asleep creating a sensation that their legs are being held down. The sounds of children's giggling and door knobs being turned with no one outside have also been experienced. This apparently is the most haunted room in the entire hotel. Room 9