Pendleton, Oregon: Underground Tour

Chinese-built tunnels were conduits for illicit activities, gambling and prostitution. Actors perform a once-a-year reenactment of tunnel life.
Address:
37 SW Emigrant Ave., Pendleton, OR
Directions:
Tour entry is downtown, on the corner of SW 1st St. and Emigrant Ave., which is one block south of US 30/Dorion Ave.
Phone:
541-276-0730
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Pendleton Underground Tours. Underground Tour

I visited this attraction in 1993. Downtown Pendleton Oregon used to have a "city underground" that housed its Chinese population at night, in the interconnected basements of several buildings. Supposedly, there was an ordinance that Chinese were not allowed to show their faces above ground after dark, so they were housed in the city's basements. The local historical society researched the underground city, and persuaded several of the downtown building owners to allow the excavation of their basements. The Pendleton Underground attraction is the result.

You tour one room in which you see the traces of the bunks the Chinese slept in. There's also a (cheesy) speakeasy, a Chinese laundry (of course), and a former brothel in one of the buildings upstairs (which I couldn't visit because my underaged daughter was with me).

[Pat O'Connell, 01/17/2000]

June 2011: Photo added.

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October 25, 2014

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