The Haunted Past of the Shanghai Tunnels

Men looking to make a quick buck would prowl Portland’s bars, saloons, and taverns. Looking for young able-bodied men who were alone. These ‘Shanghaiers’ would wait until their target was drunk and then take him down to the basement. They would knock the man unconscious and drag him through the Shanghai Tunnels to the docks. Once on-board the ships these men chose labor over starvation. Some men managed to escape the ships and warn the public about the Shanghaiers. Stories about the Shanghaiers circulated Portland and soon men became more cautious when drinking out at the bars. When abducting men became difficult savvy Shanghaiers kidnapped women instead. Women who frequented bars alone became easy prey for Shanghaiers. Many bars had trap doors that were sprung on unsuspecting women. Once the woman fell into the tunnel it was impossible to get back out. Prostitution rings often used the tunnels to hold groups of women in cages for long periods of time. This gave them enough time to secure buyers outside of Portland. Chinese gangsters were also known to Shanghai people after doping them. Chinatown had many different conflicting gang groups who oftentimes had their own separate tunnels towards the docks. They used the tunnels to sneak in immigrants as well as goods and drugs. The many different brothels, bars, and gambling lair’s received these goods and people through their own personal tunnels and trap doors. Like most of the gangs in the area, using these methods prevented them from being busted by the police.

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