These old stone ruins, lost in the Oregon nature, were once bathrooms and are steeped in legends of murder. From stories of murder to the site of high school keggers, the ruins that are now known as “The Witch’s Castle” have lived a fair amount of lives, and none of them were very happy…..
In the mid-1800s, well before the structure was built, a man named Danford Balch bought a great portion of land around the area, in a time when Portland was still in the process of being developed. It was an enough big area, and he had to hire help to clear it, so he asked a man named Mortimer Stump, who was from Vancouver. Balch allowed him to stay with the he and his family, his wife Mary Jane and his 9 children, in the cabin on the property. Over time, Stump and Balch’s daughter Anna fell in love, and eventually Stump asked Balch permission for marry her. Balch refused, so Stump and Anna threatening to elope. Balch became infuriated and told Stump that he would murder him if they did. Despite this, the young couple didn’t heed the warning and, in November of 1858, decided to elope. When Balch knew of the elopement, he became deeply depressed, which led to days of no sleep and of heavy drinking. When the young couple returned to Portland, for some supplies and encountered her parents, Balch quickly remedied the situation: He shot Stump in the face with a double-barreled shotgun (even though the first double-barrel shotgun was invented in 1875, approximately 16 years after Balch’s supposed execution!), while all were aboard the Stark Street Ferry. Balch was arrested, but was able to escape from the jail he was held in. This led to his execution in mid-October of 1859, and this was the first legal execution in Oregon. Mary Jane continued to live at the Balch property, but at her husband’s request divided up the land amoung her children.
After Balch’s death, the property was passed around through different hands down the next century, but was of little use and was given to the City of Portland by Donald Macleay in 1897 to be used as a park. In the 1930s, the stone structure that is seen today was built near the site of the Balch homestead. It was maintained by Portland Parks and Recreation, and was used as a park ranger station and restrooms for visitors. In 1962, the structure was heavily damaged in a storm and was abandoned. Nature soon covered the stone walls, the roof collapsed, and some people made graffiti on the walls. It remained forgotten until the 1980s, when local high school students used it like a fun place to hold parties. The students named it “the Witch’s Castle” (despite no connection to witches) and made a tradition of holding gatherings on Friday nights, something that still happens today.
It is said that strange things occur in this area: it seems that plasma orbs have been photographed in this area, or some say that when you visit this area around midnight, many apparitions can bee seen and appear as if they are in some sort of battle or war against each other. It is believed that these may be the ghosts of Danford, Mortimer, Anna, and Mary Jane returning from the hereafter….