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Need a little liquid courage before hearing ghastly tales at Portland’s most historic haunts and hotspots? Join Portland Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl for some spirits, and more spirits!
The Benson Portland, 309 SW Broadway
Approximately 2 hours
Arrive 10 minutes early and allow time for parking.
Press "Book Now" for availability.
Today, Portland’s catchphrase is “Keep Portland Weird,” but the hauntings and ghost sightings that plague the city are far stranger than its quirky coffee shops and eclectic residents. With all the rain in Portland, a darkened pub makes for an ideal shelter to wait out the weather — but some of Portland’s pubs have horrifying secrets that date back to the city’s inception. Modern-day Portland was originally inhabited by several Native American tribes, but the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and Oregon Donation Land Act of 1850 forced them out, leaving behind indignant souls in their native land.
The U.S. government was eager to colonize the West, so they offered free land to any white settler who survived the journey…most didn’t but have returned either to claim their property in the land of the living or haunt those who had success in life where they failed…
Portland’s waterfront is where countless ships arrived and departed, bringing in tired miners, loggers, entrepreneurs, sailors, and people looking to start a new life on the Western Frontier. Unfortunately, many of these hopeful men and women were kidnapped and forced into vile forms of slavery and hum an trafficking.
Below the unassuming streets of downtown Portland, these victims suffered some of the most nefarious, tragic fates known to man. While their bodies were taken out to sea, their souls ended up right back in the city. Endless drinking, prost itution, and general debauchery were accepted at most of the saloons of Portland in that time, reputable or not. It’s no wonder Portland’s drinking hotspots are also hotspots for hauntings — ghosts like to have fun just as much as real live humans do.
Initially built to transport goods from the waterfront to downtown Portland, the extensive tunnels that snake below the city earned the name of the Shanghai Tunnels as Chinese immigrants and dockworkers lived and made their way about the under ground of Portland.
The twisting maze of passageways was rumored to have extended as far as 19 blocks inland and was well-built, lined with brick, and supported by heavy wooden beams. Soon after the excavations began, a network of seedy criminals began using the new tunnels for gambling, drugs, prostitution, bootlegging, and kidnapping.
Since these activities happened underground and out of the public eye, people at every level of authority in the city were bribed to ignore the dealings going on below their feet. But today, the ghostly figures who remain from those days won’t be ignored.
On our Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl, you’ll visit the most haunted locations in Portland — places where employees, patrons, and tourists have experienced unexplainable events — while enjoying a different type of spirits along the way. You’ll learn about several Portland establishments’ relationship to the Shanghai tunnels, where seedy characters partook in gambling, drugs, prostitution, kidnapping, and bootlegging.
We’ll take you to a classic arcade bar where you’ll learn about the mysterious arcade game that inspired the dystopian novel “Ready Player One,” and some think may have been invented by an evil mastermind. You’ll visit Kells Irish Pub, a sister pub to the Seattle pub of the same name, that is notorious for its location over the Shanghai tunnels and for the firefighter ghost that is said to hang out at the pub.
Finish up at Kelly’s Olympian Bar, one of the oldest continuously-operating bars in Portland, where friendly spirits lurk in the basement that supposedly housed a speakeasy during Prohibition.
While you might be familiar with Seattle’s supremely haunted bar of the same name, the Portland Kells is haunted because it was constructed in a building that dates back to 1889, when people were still being Shanghaied and taken through the underground tunnels. As if that weren’t a sufficient enough reason for paranormal activity, the pub is tied to another tragic incident.
In 1911, a fire broke out at the Union Oil distribution plant, not too far across the Willamette River from Kells. The first responder on the scene was Portland City Fire Chief, David Campbell who was unfortunately crushed beneath the collapsing building. There are multiple reports of a ghost in full firefighting gear hanging out in the Kells Cigar Room.
Kelly’s was part of the Shanghai Tunnel system but opened in 1902 when most of the city had caught onto the Shanghai scheme. By the 1920s, the tunnels had taken on a new purpose: bootlegging.
Portland had a reputation for being a dry city at the time, but it was because all of the drinking was happening out of sight. The gangsters paid off cops with the money they made rum-running. Today, evidence of the old speakeasy remains in the Kelly’s Olympian basement — both physical and spiritual. The good news is the ghosts that hang out there are all fun-loving and friendly.
Founded by two record store employees and their video-game-loving friends, this classic arcade opened at its original location on 12th Avenue in 1999. They have Pacman, Tetris, Sp ace Invaders, Street Fighter — every popular cabinet arcade game you can think of. But there’s one very notable game missing: Polybius.
In 1981, a mysterious game began appearing in arcades all over the city. It was never advertised and didn’t even have a na me painted on it. But teenagers were becoming addicted to it and gameplay supposedly produced intense psychoactive and addictive effects. About a month after the machines appeared in the arcades, they disappeared without a trace.