Portland, also called The City of Roses, is Oregon’s largest city. Known for its picturesque natural scenery, excellent microbreweries, inviting outdoor facilities and efficient urban planning, Portland has become one of United States’ most beautiful places not just for living but for touring as well.
One of the many attractions Portland is proud of is the Portland Underground, better known as Shanghai Tunnels. This attraction exposes a series of tunnels that connects the basement’s bars and hotels to the Old Town. But more than that, what the Shanghai Tunnels tour wants to achieve is the awareness on how the basement played a major role in Portland’s history.
Shanghai Tunnels tour is a historical tour that lasts for an hour and a half. It starts with an above-ground orientation where tourists are given guidelines and hints on what is in store below. As the tour progresses, the tourists are exposed to the remnants of Portland’s dark secrets hidden underneath the ground for ages.
Portland’s dark secret is what the tour is all about. The Portland Underground has always been linked to the illegal practice of shanghaiing and due to that, Portland had a dark reputation of being the Forbidden City of the West. The walls of the tunnels served as witnesses of shanghaiing, which the kidnapping of able-bodied poor men to be sold for $50 to sea captains in need of crew ships.
In the mid-19th century, men and women were warned of being drugged and kidnapped for the purpose of illegal trade to sea captains. Women were allegedly abused, not as crew ship but as sex slaves. It is said that other ports in the West Coast also served as hubs for shanghaiing, but it is in Portland Underground where it was casually and freely carried out. Portland’s dark secret may be just a myth, but urban legend or not, the story of shanghaiing is the core of the Shanghai Tunnels tour.
Now in the modern times, the Shanghai Tunnels is converted into a major tourist attraction that endlessly welcomes visitors all over the world. The walking tour is not just for lovers of mystery, crimes, scandals and dark ages–the tour is more importantly for people who appreciate history and relevant stories of Portland’s old times.
The Shanghai Tunnels are made accessible through guided tours facilitated by accredited tour agencies such as Cascade Geographic Society . The exploration follows a scheduled tour and the price of the ticket depends whether the purpose of the tour is for witnessing the paranormal or for learning the tunnels’ history.