In a small rural community about 32 miles outside of Knoxville, TN you can find the Greenback Castle, aka the “Fortress of Faith”.
As a solo traveler that doesn’t always do a lot of research, I never know exactly what I am going to find. Is it safe? I’ve seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and all of the Rob Zombie movies so I sometimes wonder “is it a good idea to wander out alone to a property in a rural area?”. I called my husband and said, “Hey, I’m at The Greenback Castle, just so you know where I went if anything happens”. He was hundreds of miles away he just replied, “well, that just means we know where to look for your remains”.
When you turn off of Lee Shirley Rd, you’ll see a worn, faded handmade wood sign that reads “castle” . You’ll take a dirt and gravel road (and pass some more signs) until you see the castle, where there is no parking so you just put your car out of the way on the front lawn.
I was greeting by the sounds of roosters crowing and dogs barking. No other visitors and no neighbors were out. Enter at your own risk…
The castle looked interesting and impressive, welcoming yet creepy. I went ahead and started looking around. One of the first things you see inside is a graveyard. Some of the rooms looked like dark labyrinths and I hesitated from going all the way in. A quick look was all I needed.
I heard music playing in the back so I said “hello?” a few times. No answer. I continued to carefully look around and there is a lot to look at. I was almost ready to leave when a man came out to greet me. He introduced himself as Junior Banks. He told me he was 76 years old and that God wanted him to build this castle.
Mr Banks wanted to show me the castle he built and tell me of the “pictures” that are rare and that the CIA and the news won’t look at. Not knowing if he was Grandpa Sawyer, I took a chance and him show me his work and let him tell me his stories.
Mr Banks talked about spirits and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but I wanted to know how he built the castle and why. He told me he wanted to have his own castle and he began construction about 30 years ago. He said that over the years he has had some help from about 100 or so people but that they had never come back. He said that Jesus allows him, a 76 year old man, to continue to build everyday and he feels that it’s through God’s powers that he is able to construct his castle.
Mr Banks also explained that the cemetery was for dogs he found in the road to give them a proper burial. He said he was no longer able to drive and continue to pick them up.
I also learned that Junior Banks built the castle with his hands and he carved all of the pictures into cement with a nail.
If you’re into the strange, unusual and off of the beaten path destinations then visiting the castle is definitely worth a stop. It takes about an hour or so of your time and it’s free. I gave Mr Banks a small donation and a hug. He told me that I was so pretty and asked if he could please have a second hug! 😆
Cheers to another weird, long day!