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Tour the Shanghai Tunnels of Portland, Oregon

To arrange a tour contact us at:
 shanghaitunnels@onemain.com              503-622-4798


Please feel free to read the full text below  or use the following questions to jump through the text.

What exactly are the tunnels?    |    What exactly was shanghaiing?    |    What do the tours cover?    

What can I expect on the tour?    |    Are there different tours?      |     How many people will go with me?    

How much does this cost?    |    Arranging for your group to attend    |     Learn the 18 key points for tour success

Many more questions and answers can be found on the FAQ page.

The "Portland Underground" tunnels, more popularly known as the "Shanghai Tunnels", were basements of buildings that connected to other buildings through brick and stone archways that were intersected with tunnels that connected under the streets, linking block to block. These "catacombs" or "tombs", as they were sometimes called, created a unique network of passages and thoroughfares that were used by unscrupulous individuals called "shanghaiiers" or "crimps", in addition to "white slavers" who grabbed women and sold them into prostitution.

Shanghaiing was an illegal maritime practice where able-bodied men --- sailors, loggers, cowboys, sheepherders, ranch hands, construction workers, and vagabonds, in addition to other hard workers who were either employed or who frequented the waterfront, were grabbed or kidnapped and sold to sea captains who forced them to work aboard their ships for no pay. Portland was unique because trap doors (known as "deadfalls") were used to drop the unsuspecting victims into the "Portland Underground", where they were forcibly held in cells until the ship was ready to set sail. From 1850 to 1941, the so-called Victorian-refined Portland was known as the "Unheavenly City" or the "Forbidden City", due to this shocking practice. And, during "Prohibition", the saloons literally went "Underground" and occupied a portion of this so-called "Underground City", creating an even greater opportunity for men to find themselves aboard a ship bound for the Orient.

Today you can take an educational tour of the infamous "Portland Underground" that focuses on the shanghai trade which survived in the City of Portland from 1850-1941. In addition the tours may discuss "white slavery", prohibition, and even the turn-of-the-century history of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W) labor movement in the Northwest. Also, depending upon the tour taken, a discussion of the early history of the Chinese is covered, along with the Japanese and the Gypsies. These tours are operated by the Cascade Geographic Society (CGS) and provide a unique glimpse back into the hidden (or buried) past of the "City of Roses"


Individuals or groups are encouraged to read the Tour FAQ page to find answers to some commonly asked questions. As always feel free to contact us for more information. Thanks to the owners of Hobo's Restaurant in Old Town the tours of the infamous "Shanghai Tunnels" have found an entrance into this hidden world of darkness and shadows where Portland's secret history still hides. Please DO NOT contact the restaurant for information regarding tours. All tours are provided by Michael Jones, and he can be reached at:


Tours take approximately an hour and a half, and participants are accompanied by a guide at all times. The tour participants receive and above-ground orientation, and then the guide will lead the group into the "Portland Underground", where they will receive the majority of the historical and oral history about this infamous maritime practice that gave Portland a notorious reputation throughout the world. Tour participants must be able to handle stairs that lead to and from this hidden world. In addition, there will be dust, dirt, musty smells, and anything else that would be associated with this type of environment, so if you need a dust mask, please bring one. Also, at each station people will be required to stand for at least 15 minutes at a time in order to receive the necessary information. Also, the "Portland Underground" is constantly in transition as more and more sections are opened or restored, which is why some people have taken this tour several times.

Additionally there is more than one type of tour.

The three tours of the "Portland Underground" are as follows:
1) The "Shanghai Tunnels Heritage Tour" --- which is the main tour given and involves the history of shanghaiing in Portland. You'll leave knowing more about the shanghai trade in the "City of Roses" than you ever considered wanting to know.
2) The "Shanghai Tunnels Ghost Tours" which are given only upon at least one week advance request . "Northwest Paranormal Investigations" has proclaimed that the shanghai tunnels are the most haunted place in Oregon and, perhaps, the most haunted place on the West Coast. Given upon request!
3) The "Shanghai Tunnel Ethnic History Tour" provides insights into the histories of the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Gypsies and how their histories relate to those infamous activities in the "Portland Underground". Dispels a lot of myths! Only given upon request!
Every tour provides a glimpse into a segment of the once-hidden world of shanghaiing. You will venture into the "Portland Underground" to see remnants of this shocking maritime history -- unique architecture, underground holding cells, a "deadfall" trapdoor, unearthed artifacts of this terrible, misguided labor practice and more. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the secret history of shanghaiing.
All of the tours offered are educational in nature and provide a good deal of information on the shanghai trade in Portland and on the West Coast. Although there are primarily three tours as described above, other tours can be customized just for your group. Please give us a call at 503-622-4798 or email us directly.
Tours for your group can be arranged if your group has between 15 and 25 people. If your group has fewer than 15 participants, please be aware that your group will be combined with other groups or individuals. If your group has more than 25 members please contact Michael directly to discuss the best options for dividing your group. Registration is required, because all tours are by appointment only, however registration alone does not guarantee your place. In order to hold your spot on a particular day and time you must pre-pay. Cost is $12 for adults and $7 for children under 12. Pre-payment allows Cascade Geographic Society to better plan for the tour, without overbooking. Pre-payments must be mailed within 72 hours of reserving your tour. Please send check or money order to:
Portland Underground Tours
P.O. Box 398
Rhododendron, OR 97049
Be sure to include the tour date on your check or money order for easy tracking of payment.
For information on location, how to get there, where to eat, what to wear and other information please click over to our Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you would like to organize a tour for a group, please assist us to insure that everything is coordinated and that no one in your group is left out. As a leader for your group you are responsible for understanding the 18 key points outlined on the "group tour" page. Since the tours may involve individuals not associated with your own group, it is critical that you understand what our polices are. These policies have been implemented to both facilitate cooperation and to attempt to meet the individual needs of those people who are coming together for the tours. If you need clarification on any of the 18 points, or you do not understand something, please contact us immediately.


Go to CGS home    *    Go to Shanghai Secrets    *    Go to the Tour FAQ's   *    Read the 18 key points for success