For those of you who enjoy spine-tingling adventures into the dark side, or just want a good scare, you will enjoy visiting these famous haunted places in Portland, Oregon.  But beware – under the lush façade of the City of Roses lies chilling reminders of the city’s sordid past.  Move with caution and be sure to bring along a friend.

Shanghai Tunnels – Downtown Portland

Below the busy Hobo’s Restaurant in the heart of Old Town Portland lays a dark, sinister world from another time period. A maze of tunnels snake their way underground in this place near the Willamette River where the dreary fates of many men and women began or ended for over 90 years. Dark, hot, damp, and maybe even haunted.

Beginning around 1850 and ending in the 1940’s the Shanghai Tunnels of Portland were notorious for holding unsuspecting victims to be sold to sea captains in need of a crew.  Kidnapped from local bars, bordellos, gambling parlors or opium dens, men were literally dropped through trap doors while downing a brew or laughing with friends into the dark tunnels of the city. And  for $50 a head these drugged and beaten men were sold to sea captains for long voyages they did not sign up for and most were never seen again.

Men were not the only captives in these tunnels.  Women who had been snatched off the streets were kept in the tunnels to be sold into white slavery or prostitution.  Once sold, these women were never seen or heard from either.

The Underground Tunnel Tour starts at Hobo’s Restaurant with tour guide and long-time tunnel historian Michael Jones leading the group outside to a metal door in the brick wall.  With flashlights in hand, the tour-goers head down a steep wood staircase into the oppressive darkness below where Jones begins to describe the life, and frequently death of those shanghaied into service.

Many people died in these tunnels from being hit over the head too hard, an overdose of knockout drugs or from staying in the claustrophobic cells too long.  Over 35 men died from drinking what they thought was whisky but ended up being embalming fluid. And many a young woman brought down into the tunnels to be sold lost babies at the hands of these unscrupulous men who sold the children as well. Several visitors to the tunnels have claimed to see a woman by an abandoned baby carriage, crying for her lost child. 

As the sound of joyous laughter drifts down from up above in Hobo’s, known as the Lasso Saloon in shanghaiing days, Jones reveals one of the many trap doors from above that many an unsuspecting victim fell through to begin his journey of doom. Visitors to the tunnels leave with a deeper understanding of Portland’s once seamy past. 

For more information on these tunnels and tours visit their website at or call 1-503-622-4798.