Greenback Castle is one of those places I have heard about for years but for various reasons, I never got around to the trek. As I have spent quite a bit of time in Blount and Loudon counties this past year, it finally came together.
Construction of the “Fortress of Faith” began when a man nicknamed Junior started building himself a castle in the early 1990s, but after a decade he decided to dedicate it to “the Almighty” instead.
You will find religious messages and imagery everywhere you look. I would make a reference to being stuck in a glitched scene from Minecraft and its multitudes of unexplained crosses but I have only witnessed bits and pieces of an ongoing game and may be in over my head there. #sidetrail
Junior claims that his God leaves messages for him by way of abstract images on the walls, which he then traces in black paint.
These sacred images include a wolf, a horseman, the devil speaking into Junior’s ear, and none other than actor Sam Houston, as seen near the top left of the photo below.
I also saw one that looks like the famous profile of Alfred Hitchcock.
Junior also claims, paraphrased, that this location is perfect for the house of God because it has the same latitude as Israel’s Holy Land (it doesn’t) and that people need to get here quickly because the End is Nigh!
Doomsday warnings, personal theories, and other incomprehensible statements are scrawled all over the walls and on signs, many with red splatter on them.
At first I thought the lot of it was for Halloween as it was just one week ago, but these are all permanent features.
Everything about this place is creepy. Allegedly it is haunted, but I am not even talking about the Spirit world. Yet.
I did a quick search on Greenback Castle before visiting and found half a dozen or more websites describing it as an inspiring, uplifting story of faith and dedication; a miraculous place built by a man who wants to help save our souls.
But in reality, minus any filters, this is a shabby structure comprised of mismatched materials with one glaring safety hazard after another. There is an unbelievable amount of trash and junk lying around everywhere.
I certainly hope there are not any fish in that.
This “House of the Almighty” displays an eclectic collection of Buddhas, Egyptian gods/hieroglyphs, and Native American shrines that just do not fit the theme.
Being the heathen that I am, I was not offended by the blasphemy, but by the incongruity of it all.
There is a jail and torture room with mannequins looking out of metal bars. Whips, chains, and more pain-inflicting devices cover the walls.
Simpsons and other cartoon characters are painted on the exterior to further influence you, in case you are willfully continuing to dangle your heart and soul from the grasp of the Lord during your visit.
In this room below, you will find a chess game memorial to Junior’s late brother. His likeness has since mysteriously appeared.
The little chamber below was inside a super dark room. I pointed my flashlight inside but the closer I got, the more my hair stood on end. This is all I dared to see of it.
Behind the castle you will find a pet cemetery and a maze just beyond a sign that says “Good Luck!” Countless crosses, jagged rusty metal posts sticking out of the ground, wires strung about, and other debris are spread all over.
Each of these gravestones are for pets that Junior rescued, but there are some dedicated to humans as well.
I have been told on multiple occasions that I am highly skilled in “polishing a turd” as the crude saying goes, and finding the silver lining in all people and situations. I have not visited a place yet that I could not find at least one worthwhile reason to visit.
The Greenback Castle / Fortress of Faith is definitely worth a visit, just know roughly what to expect.
With the help of photo editing apps, I was able to conjure up some images of my own that turned out quite lovely.
Doorway inceptions are one of my favourite types of photos, but there was such an eerie presence in this spot.
Despite my skepticism and befuddlement over this place, I must express that much of the architectural design and embellishments of the castle are impressive and exhibit craftsmanship.
The masonry is solid and there are so many cool features that I could hardly believe one man has done it all by himself, without any blueprints or real plans except his faith.
Regardless of a purpose to save souls, or efficacy in that purpose, I certainly have not passionately dedicated three decades of my life to any one specific thing so I can appreciate this great feat.
After I returned to the front, the sun had changed its position and I found some new angles to capture said craftsmanship.
There is an unsettling sensation of being watched here, perhaps just by a protective neighbour in hiding or by some other innocuous being.
Greenback Castle has a well-documented history of being haunted. Junior has signs posted that no professional media agents are allowed on the property but has allowed paranormal investigators to set up camp overnight in the past.
One would not think that the House of the Almighty could harbour any foreboding spirits, but this vast geographic area was once a main centre of ancient Native American tribes and still hosts a multitude of known and undiscovered burial sites.
Word has it that not one person or paranormal team has been able to stay the entire night, and those who have tried have left and never came back.
Guests are allowed only during daylight hours. You do not have to check in or make reservations beforehand. There is a small clearing in front of the castle you can park in, but on a potentially busy day you may have to find a respectful spot along the residential street.
Admission is free, but do consider making a donation by the entrance to keep this oddity going.
In the area for a while? Follow me just a few miles away to check out Cherokee History in Vonore; Sequoyah, Fort Loudoun, Tanasi, and Chota. Don’t forget to like and subscribe!
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