My informant grew up in Portland, Oregon, and was fascinated with ghost tales and haunted areas. He told me about the Shanghai Tunnels in Portland, which are notorious around the city for being haunted and creepy. My informant told me that as the story goes, in the 1800s there were people known as “Shanghaiiers” who worked for the shipping industry that ran through Portland’s Willamette River. These Shanghaiiers would kidnap unsuspecting men and women from bars and other places around downtown, and bring them down through secret entrances to the underground Shanghai Tunnels.
These tunnels, which still exist today, were said to have been the preferred route to take these victims down to the river where they would be shipped out and used for slave labor, and possibly prostitution. These days, it is common folklore that these tunnels are haunted with the souls of those who were taken down these tunnels and shipped into slavery. They are said to be dangerous, and one of the “most haunted places in America”.
My informant has heard these stories from many friends and peers, who tell it as a part of social interaction. There are now tour groups that will take you on a tour through these tunnels, but my informant says that they are “only for the bravest of the brave. I’d never go”. My informant says that he believes that there really were Shanghaiiers who would kidnap individuals in the 1800’s, and says that he really does believe that the tunnels are haunted nowadays.
I believe that this story may be true, based on how widespread and widely popular it is around Portland. I believe that at one point, they likely were used as underground transports for kidnapped adults and children. On the other hand, I believe that the tunnels are likely not truly haunted by the souls of these individuals. Firstly, because the individuals were shipped other locations immediately after, and secondly because the whole idea of ghosts may just be a false identity, spread throughout folklore. Nevertheless, you absolutely won’t find me wandering these tunnels anytime soon, even on a tour.