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Cauldron Lake

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Cauldron Lake is one of the most critical locations in Alan Wake. It is a large lake near Bright Falls, Washington, and acts as an entrance to the Dark Place, a supernatural location where fiction and reality flow together. As a result, writers and artists near Cauldron Lake can turn their works into existence.

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Cauldron Lake is a special place; very inspiring.

Barbara Jagger


Cauldron Lake is a caldera lake in the mountains of the U.S. state of Washington. It is the eighth deepest lake in the world, formed from a volcanic crater. The lake has been the subject of much folklore throughout history, and local Native American tribes regarded it as a gateway to the underworld. However, it is unknown whether they knew of its power. Cauldron Lake has mysterious supernatural powers that enable artistic creators to bring their works to life at the site, including events, creators, and characters. These powers result from the lake’s connection to the Dark Place, a realm of pure creativity and imagination.

Pat Maine, Alan, and Alice Wake.
Pat Maine, Alan, and Alice Wake cross Cauldron Lake via ferry.

In the 1970s, acclaimed poet Thomas Zane lived in an island cabin on Cauldron Lake; due to Zane’s love of diving, the island became known as “Diver’s Isle.” Zane wrote stories and poems about Cauldron Lake with the help of his lover and muse, Barbara Jagger, and young assistant Emil Hartman. Zane eventually discovered the supernatural powers of the lake; Jagger later drowned in the lake under mysterious circumstances. With possible ulterior motives, Hartman convinced Zane to use the lake’s ability to write Jagger back to life. However, when Zane did so, Barbara’s body was possessed by an alien entity known only as the Dark Presence. Realizing his mistake, Zane cut out Jagger’s heart, then used his poems to write himself, her, and everything else related to the incident out of existence. Zane’s actions were the most likely cause of the 1970 volcanic earthquakes that sank Diver’s Isle. Zane and the Dark Presence were both trapped deep within the Dark Place. The earthquakes resulted in the collapse and flooding of various deep mining tunnels in the area, claiming 32 lives and the end of the Bright Falls mining industry.

The Anderson Brothers used unfiltered Cauldron Lake water as an essential ingredient in their famous moonshine. It is hinted that the water of Cauldron Lake itself is chemically unique, as it makes the Andersons’ moonshine very powerful and clears the mind of those who drink it. Drinking the moonshine allowed Alan Wake to recall the events of the week he had forgotten.


  • Thomas Zane, in Alan’s dream, quotes his poem about the lake: [note 1] and after Alan finishes Departure, he states: [note 2] He says that the “lake” is an “ocean.” The meaning of this is still somewhat unclear, and it is possibly a metaphor for both characters realizing the scope of the power and danger of the lake. It could mean that the dark presence doesn’t just lurk in Bright Falls but could eventually be a global phenomenon. It may also be possible that “It’s not a lake” literally means it is not a lake, as it contains no water, just darkness. The best evidence for this theory is that unfiltered “water” from Cauldron Lake is a key ingredient in the Anderson brothers’ moonshine, which, according to the dying man at Anderson’s farm, “makes you see” and it allows Alan to put many of the final pieces together. If it is that the lake contains no water, then the statement is a mixed metaphor: “not a lake,” meaning it isn’t a lake, and “it’s an ocean,” indicating the greater scope of the darkness.
  • The waters of Cauldron Lake are green at the surface and black just under the surface, foreshadowing the evil that lurks in its depths.
  • The Dark Presence resides in the Dark Place at the bottom of the lake. The two, however, are not the same.
  • In the world of Alan Wake, Cauldron Lake is the eighth-deepest lake in the world. In the real world, that honor goes to Great Slave Lake, located in Canada’s Northwest Territories. However, the ninth-deepest on the list is Crater Lake, a lake made from the caldera of an extinct volcano found in Oregon. This depth also makes it the deepest lake in the United States. Given its location in the Pacific Northwest and its status as a particularly deep lake formed from a volcano caldera, it was likely a source of inspiration for the creation of Cauldron Lake.

There lied a deeper, darker ocean green, with waves both wilder and more serene…

Note 1

It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean.

Note 2

About the author


Hello there! My name is Nelson, and I am passionate about creating unique social communities. I love playing video games like Mass Effect, The Witcher, Halo, Fallout, and many more.


    • Thank you for taking the time to comment on Cauldron Lake!

      The Federal Bureau of Control (FBC) in Control considers Cauldron Lake a threshold to another dimension. The “Correspondence: Cauldron Lake Update” collectible from the AWE crossover expansion of Control mentions Cauldron Lake and Bright Falls.

      Have an excellent rest of the day, and thank you for your question!

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By Nelson
Follow the Light to escape the Darkness!

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Hello there! My name is Nelson, and I am passionate about creating unique social communities. I love playing video games like Mass Effect, The Witcher, Halo, Fallout, and many more.

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