Best Places to Live

Portland, OR

Population: 612,206
Photo courtesy of Evan Reeves

Shanghai Tunnels

In Portland, OR's Old Town area, there's something dark and mysterious lurking just below the surface. It's the Shanghai Tunnels – a network of secret passageways alive with unsettled spirits.

Between 1850 and 1941, men were “shanghaied,” or kidnapped, typically through trapdoors in bars and saloons, and held in the tunnels until they were sold to sea captains as slaves. Women were also captured and sold into prostitution, often transported to other cities. However, many people never made it out of the tunnels alive, and they are believed to haunt them and the surrounding establishments today. The best-known Shanghai spirit is Nina, an American Indian who was sold into prostitution and thrown down an elevator shaft in the Merchant Hotel, which is now Old Town Pizza, after getting caught revealing her captors' identities to Christian missionaries. She's been spotted by restaurant patrons and employees, usually wearing a long black dress.

In 2012, the popular Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures shot an episode inside the Shanghai Tunnels and investigated the area. The crew saw apparitions, heard unexplained noises and footsteps, and picked up mysterious voices using an electronic voice phenomena machine (EVP). Tunnel workers have also experienced paranormal activity, reporting bricks thrown at them by invisible forces.

Want to experience it for yourself? Take a tour with the Cascade Geographical Society or the Portland Walking Tours group, both of which operate year round.

See where Portland ranked on our list of Top 10 Spring Break Destinations for Families, 2013: Quick Getaways, and check out more local attractions.

*Photo courtesy of Evan Reeves.