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Dark Destinations > Locations - P > Pendleton Underground Tours


 
Pendleton Underground Tours Other destinations within a
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Availability: Open to the Public
Filed Under: Historical Locations > Tours
Paranormal Hot Spots > Tours/Ghost Walks
Added By: TheCabinet
Added On: August 25, 2007 - 09:29 PM UTC
Last Modified: October 10, 2010 - 01:31 PM UTC
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Address
37 SW Emigrant Ave, Pendleton, OR 97801, USA (Pendleton, Oregon)
 
Information
Pendleton Underground Tours
This popular tourist stop has been taking their guests to the underground tunnels beneath Pendleton, Oregon since 1989. Pendleton-resident, Pam Severe, grew up on stories of the underground and ultimately founded the non-profit organization, Pendleton Underground Tours, to finally let visitors explore the truth for themselves. The tour probes into Pendleton's sordid past and takes guests down below the former "red light" district, where a lot of action was happening beneath the streets. At one point in its history, the city boasted 32 saloons and 18 bordellos to serve the population, which flourished to around 4,500 people around the turn of the 20th century. It is no surprise that the town advertised itself to be the entertainment capital of the Northwest.

Stories of gambling, bootlegging, prostitution, and opium dens surround the tunnels built by Chinese labor between 1870 and 1930. Over 70 miles of underground tunnels exists below Pendleton's historic district, though only a portion were restored for this tour (other areas have been bricked up or have collapsed and are no longer accessible) along with recreations of the businesses that used to be located there. Along with the tunnels, the group purchased a former bordello that had been known as The Cozy Rooms in 1997 that had been restored and reopened as a hotel by Severe only six years prior. The Working Girls Old Hotel Bed & Breakfast is just four doors down from the Pendleton Underground Tours office and gives interested guests an overnight taste of that "Old West" lifestyle.

The tours were an immediate hit for curious tourists, although it did not come without a little controversy. The prevailing themes of booze, prostitution, opium dens, Chinese oppression, gambling, and more did not sit well with some in the city. Part of the controversy may have been the fact that the "historical" aspects of the tour were still fairly fresh in the memory of the citizens. Bordellos continued to run in the city until 1953 when a local Presbyterian minister threatened to read a list he compiled of patrons and employees of the brothels during a Sunday sermon. By order of the mayor, the establishments quickly closed down or moved out of town, marking the end of the "red light" district. Despite this, the Cozy Rooms's madam, Stella Darby, merely plastered over the main entrance, but kept her business open through 1965 until she too finally left Pendleton behind.

Ghosts Below the Surface
Not surprisingly, stories of ghosts and strange occurrences inside the tunnels and rooms emerged once the tours reopened the underground world to the general public. The focal point of the activity seems to be based in the Chinese quarters part of the tour. As mentioned earlier, the underground network of tunnels was mostly built by Chinese labor. In a sad irony, the same workers that established the underground were ultimately forced to live there as, like many cities in the Old West, Pendleton had strict laws forbidding the Chinese residents from walking the streets of the city at night. As such, the group moved underground after dark where they established their only little world; complete with jail cell, opium dens, and packed sleeping quarters.

Today, one of these living quarters is a major stop on the Pendleton Underground Tours. It is here that some people report feeling an overwhelming oppressive feeling or heaviness, while others have been said to hear conversations from areas of the room where no one is standing. Despite the whispers, it is said the voices are quite clearly speaking Chinese. If that was not enough, yet others have reported seeing an apparition of one or more of the Chinese laborers watching the tour groups that pass through from elsewhere in the room only to vanish before their eyes.

Yet another story of spooky occurrences has emerged from the first stop in the tour in the saloon known as The Shamrock Room. The spirits of long-ago gold miners who were cheated out of their earnings of gold dust by a crafty bartender and tilted scale reputedly haunt the room. There are stories of people hearing the disembodied voices of men arguing and still claiming that they were wronged.

Information
The Pendleton Underground Tours are open year-round and offer a chance for tourists to explore the underground tunnels of the city. Once a year, the organization holds the special event, Comes to Life, which brings in over 75 live actors to populate the tunnels and bordello above to recreate life as it was 100 years ago. The event is typically held in May, but it is best to check the current schedule before making plans. All other information, including dates, times, and prices can be found on their site below.
 
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Related Sites
Pendleton Underground Tours
Tours that explore the tunnels and seedy past below the city of Pendleton, Oregon - also the location of rumored paranormal activity.
 
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Images
 
The Jail Cell in the Pendleton Underground
Photo from inside the jail cell in the Chinese section of the Pendleton Underground - 09/10.
From: TheCabinet
 
Haunted Chinese Section of Pendleton Underground
Photo of the reputedly haunted bunking quarters of the Chinese in the Pendleton Underground - 09/10.
From: TheCabinet
 
The Natural Lighting of the Pendleton Underground
Photo of the natural lighting underground connected to the sidewalk above in Pendleton, OR - 09/10.
From: TheCabinet
 
The Building Above Pendleton Underground Tours
Image of the sign above the main entrance to the Pendleton Underground Tours in September 2010.
From: TheCabinet
 
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The above content is for informational purposes only. Before making any travel arrangements, it is highly recommended that you contact those in charge of the property to check for updated availability and hours of operation. While we do our best to keep this information updated, we cannot guarantee that it is completely valid and up to date. Any destination marked "Closed to the Public" is marked that for a reason and we discourage any visits or attempts to gain access to that facility. Similarly, take note of any "Travel Advisory" that may be associated with a destination. Finally, treat any location and its local residents with respect. Any vandalism and/or unruly behavior is completely despicable and only ruins the experience for future visitors.

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