Oregon is renowned – and beloved – for it’s wonderful weirdness. The Naked Bike Ride and The Peculiarium are some of the best known attractions, but there’s one place that makes the cut purely because of its spookiness. The Witch’s Castle in Forest Park, with its tragic yet intriguing history, has become one of our more mysterious draws. So fortify yourself with some Rainstorm Pinot Gris and prepare for a tale of terror. Maybe a little exaggeration – but get the wine anyway.
First, relax: there are no actual witches involved in this story. How the Castle ruins got its name is unclear, but it’s not due to any black magic being practiced in the area. The site of the Witch’s Castle was home to a man named Danford Balch, who built a cabin there in the mid-1800s to house his family of 12.
To help clear the area, Blach hired Mortimer Stump. Stump soon fell in love with one of Bach’s daughters, Anna, and requested her hand in marriage. Blach refused, and Stump and Anna decided to elope. When they returned, Blach was so angry, he shot and killed Stump on sight, a crime for which he was executed in 1859.
Over the years, the property changed hands several times before the Portland Parks and Recreation Department acquired it. They constructed a stone building to serve as a ranger station and restroom for hikers in the 1950s, but the property was curiously abandoned about 10 years later.
Since then, nature has worked hard to reclaim the structure. Today it looms ominously, greeting visitors with its moss-covered facade. The eerie atmosphere doesn’t seem to deter many, however, as the Witch’s Castle is still host to hikers and thrill-seekers.
If you’re not afraid of the bad juju that may be in the area, the hike to the castle is worth it. The site is one of Portland’s best-kept secrets and definitely should be on your list of spots to visit. Make a day of it with a picnic featuring the best Oregon Wines. Just make sure you don’t go on a Friday night, unless you want to hang out with local teens, whose palates are most certainly not as refined as yours.