From Photoshoot to Phantom Encounter
On one gloomy October morning, Audrey Lambert and her friends awoke before dawn to embark on an adventure to The Witch’s Castle. Lambert was doing a project for her photography class, and enlisted her pals to help her out in a spooky photoshoot. When asked about the inspiration for this shoot, Audrey said she wanted it to feel, “ghastly and ghoulish.” Little did she know how ghoulish her day would become.
Audrey had done her research on her spooky spot of choice, and thought it would be the perfect place to capture some haunting images. The tale of the Witch’s Castle is a staple of Portland lore, and the story goes as such:
In the mid 19th century, a man by the name of Danford Balch arrived to Oregon with his family via the Oregon Trail. Upon his arrival, he claimed a large and scenic plot of land, and hired a noble hand to help him take care of it, a man by the name of Mortimer Stump. A few years later, Balch’s daughter, Anna, and Mortimer fell in love. When Mortimer asked for Anna’s hand in marriage, Balch was furious, for he believed Mortimer to be beneath him and his daughter. He disapproved so strongly that he threatened to kill Mortimer if he dared wed his beloved daughter. But alas, the two young lovers did not take his threat to heart, and secretly eloped.
When the newly weds returned to Portland after their nuptials, they were met by Balch and his double barrel shotgun. Balch kept his promise, and fatally shot Mortimer in the face. He was promptly arrested and when tried for the murder, he claimed that his wife had put some sort of spell on him, forcing him to kill young Mortimer. The townspeople did not believe this tale, and Balch became the first man to be publicly executed in the state of Oregon.
Long after this deadly tale had ended, a stone rest stop was erected on Balch’s old land, and abandoned for 50 years. Until in the 1980’s, local youths found this hidden treasure and named it The Witch’s Castle, after Balch wife who had allegedly cursed him to kill. Legend has it that both Danford Balch and Mortimer Stump haunt the land to this day.
Upon hearing this tale, our young photographer, Audrey Lambert, was unfazed. The spooky ambiance of the castle was perfect for her vision of this photoshoot. Her and her friends had a wonderful time, and the pictures turned out to be exactly as she had wanted. When Audrey returned to her dorm that afternoon, she was exhausted from her early morning shoot, and decided to take a nap. Unfortunately for Audrey, this was to become a sleep she would not soon forget.
After falling asleep, Audrey found herself in a state of sleep paralysis. She said “I had experienced sleep paralysis before, but never like this. It had always just been dark… but not this time”. Audrey found herself unable to move, and that’s when she felt the mattress next to her being pressed against by an unknown presence, causing the bed to dip. “It felt like someone was laying next to me, pushing their elbow into the bed”. That’s when she saw a dark shadowy figure appear in front of her eyes. She was face to face with this shadow man, unable to move or speak. “He leaned his face right up to mine, and started blowing on my face, over and over and over again.”
When she awoke from this torturous state, Audrey was terrified. She knew she needed to get rid of this haunting force. Audrey bravely returned to the cite of the crime, The Witch’s Castle, to return the spirit to it’s home and banish it from her presence. To ensure that she was rid of any lingering negative energy, her friend smudged her down with sage, gifted to her by the women of the Tule River reservation in Southern California.
Audrey Lambert has not seen this spirit since her fateful slumber, but the the curse of knowledge haunts her to this day. “Until this experience, I had always wanted ghosts to be real, but never thought they were. Now, I wish they weren’t”.