Gregory Dolgos - Jan 4, 2010

Portland in Oregon, USA has an interesting tourism attraction, the so called Shanghai Tunnels. According to legends the tunnels were used for Shanghaiing, which was involuntary recruiting or rather kidnapping of men for service on ships.




Tunnels always belong among popular tourism sites. There is something mysterious in those dark places and it does not matter whether they are in Vietnam, Laos or elsewhere.


Shanghai Tunnels are among those immersed in legends. These Tunnels do not find themselves under Shanghai but under Portland in Oregon. Shanghaiing does not refer to the Chinese city but to kidnapping of men and selling them to sea captains.


Legends say men were drugged or just knocked unconscious and then locked in the tunnels under the city till a captain bought them in the morning. According to the stories, women were also in danger because they could be kidnapped and sold to brothels far away from Portland. Shanghaiing is said to take place since 1850s to the early 20th century.


Certainly, these stories give the site a charm for visitors. What of these legends is true remains a question. Shanghaiing undoubtedly existed around the world but it is somehow hard to believe that 1500 people were kidnapped and sold in Portland using the tunnels. But who knows?


The tunnels did exist and they reportedly ran from Chinatown to Downtown Portland. They connected basements of various buildings and were used for storage of goods. Currently most of the tunnels do not exist and there is none which would lead directly to the waterfront. A tourist may visit some of those that are preserved until today. The Cascade Geographic Society conducts tours to some of the tunnels.










  1. I used to volunteer with the Cascade Geographic Society and I just wanted to clear up some confusion.

    There's been an ongoing debate about what we show you on our tours. I'm sick of these whiney people saying negative things and questioning Michael P. Jones and never taking our tours. Yes, it's true that we do not go into any tunnels. So what? We make not a single claims that your going to see (or be in) any tunnels. So please don't say "A tourist may visit some of those that are preserved until today." It just causes people to get upset.

    Michael has spent his entire life - from the time he was a young boy - to preserve the history and the legends alike. What your going to hear are the stories of Michael and of the work that he has done. And that is worth every penny!

  2. Thanks Rebecca for such clarification. I googled the tunnels and several times found that you really can enter the underground.

    (United Kingdom)
  3. ok, so the history of US is as differant as anywhere, but to be taken under a pub and told "now if could imagine" [we counted 18 times] as we walked through a tour with little to no atmosphere was actually not worth every penny as Rebecca mentions. Portland has a lot to offer, I lived there for a number of years, but sadly, this tour did not punch our ticket.

    (United Kingdom)

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