Tag Archives: Underground

Bomb Shelter High School – Legend


This legend is from K’s friend of a friend. K was born in Canada but moved to southern California when they were 10 where K went to school. K is currently a sophomore studying Screenwriting at SCA.


K’s high school circulated a story about a bunker under the auditorium that had built as a bomb shelter that had been built during the Second World War. “Which, in retrospect doesn’t really make sense because our high school was built after that.” Basically, one of K’s friends wanted to confirm if it was true. There was an upper-field area that he searched in, the auditorium area that he searched underneath, and eventually he gave up trying to find it. But, K’s AP Environmental Science teacher was like “Hey, don’t worry, it definitely exists.” So, K’s friend went back and tried to find it. K believes it might have originated from the orchestra pit, and a student seeing something freaky down there. Regardless, the story has become something the seniors tend to pass on to the freshman.


This narrative is a legend; it is set in a time in history that’s remained to the present and the basis of the story is whether or not it is real or fake. Legends often explore if the improbable or impossible is, in fact, possible and in doing so make their audience question whether or not the impossible truly is possible in the real world. The readers can examine their perception of what the real world may be. In the case of the school, the students will always have something to be curious and engaged about. Most children’s lore, including teenagers, are anti-hegemonic for the larger education system. For high school, this evolves into a more intentional and rebellious perception of the outside world. To have a story that introduces inherent falsehood in the school, I believe these teenagers will have something to place their growing pains and rebellious energy in. The backstory of the bomb shelter being built during World War II, or even the Cold War, easily becomes both a flashback into the power of the past and also the absurdity of it; the very thought of a nuclear bomb now seems ridiculous and unlikely. When students place their interest or belief into this possibly true blast from the past, they will place themselves on a high moral pedestal from which to judge history. This encourages childhood anti-hegemony and confidence in themselves, that we have evolved past a time where we needed bomb shelters.

Shanghai Tunnels

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.