Listen close—was that an echo? Or something more sinister? Visit the haunted Shanghai Tunnels on your US Ghost Adventure tour of Portland, OR.
Picture this: It’s the late 1800s, and you’re enjoying a hearty pint of ale in Downtown Portland after a long day of logging — when suddenly a sack is tossed over your head!
You get dragged through a secret entrance into dank and dark tunnels. You feel only the bumpy twists and turns, smell the scent of opium, no idea where you’re heading.
Until someone rips off the sack! In the sudden light, you realize you’re on a ship with a one-way ticket to far-off lands in Asia.
Alarming stories like these were common occurrences in 19th-century Portland, Oregon. And you can uncover them all on a US Ghost Adventures tour of the Shanghai Tunnels.
In the 19th-century, Chinatown was making its mark as Portland’s cultural and economic hub. But beneath the glimmering prosperity, secrets lurked just below the surface. Tunnels discreetly built connected the busy international port with pubs and restaurants near the riverfront.
When foreign captains needed to expand their crew, they didn’t put out advertisements. Locals would be “Shanghaied,” meaning captured and forced to work as sailors against their will. The most efficient way to facilitate this was to capture unsuspecting drunk men with their guard down.
Chinese sailors constructed brothels and opium dens for weary sailors. Gambling houses were open all night, and an entire underground city thrived outside the eyes of law enforcement.
Or perhaps thrived with the agreement of crooked cops…
As Portland became less and less relevant as a port city, American organized crime took advantage of these passageways. They seemed perfectly designed to sneak alcohol in from the river to bars during Prohibition.
Reports of murder and forced prostitution replaced international slavery. By the early 1900s, Portland maintained a reputation as the most dangerous city in America.
Over the years, secret organizations flourished below ground, and the black market thrived. A plethora of illegal activities reigned in the city’s subterranean depths, much of it routed through the Shanghai Tunnels.
Today, the tunnels are attractions for tourists enthralled by tall tales and mysterious goings-on. The keen observer will still notice trap doors scattered across downtown watering holes just behind the bar.
But there remain unexplored passageways where the typical tours won’t take you. Some tunnels are no longer structurally sound, while other passageways are only known to the oldest residents of Portland, who are taking their knowledge to the grave.
Some say the tunnels hide gold, and others insist merely piles of bones. But all travelers report moans and screams echoing through the halls.
It’s up to you to decide the truth to these mysteries.
A US Ghost Adventure Tour of Portland takes you to terrifying places in the City of Roses. While the Shanghai Tunnels shamefully hide past transgressions, other haunted sites lie right out in the open.
If you make it out of the Shanghai Tunnels in one piece, you’ll be ready to discover the rest of haunted Portland!
Since 2013, US Ghost Adventures has offered entertaining, historic, and authentic ghost tours of America’s most haunted cities. We deliver fun yet honest accounts of hauntings across the nation for curious people of all ages. Our ghost stories are based on historical research, but that doesn’t mean they won’t send a chill down your spine.
US Ghost Adventures also offers virtual tours, a self-guided mobile app, and an Alexa voice app.