Tuesday, September 6, 2016

HGB Ep. 147 - Shanghai Tunnels

Moment in Oddity - Indonesian Man is 145-years-old
Suggested by: Corbin, one of our listener's sons

News broke last week out of Indonesia about a very unique man. He is incredibly frail and the name on his identity card reads, Mbah Gotho. That identity card also identifies his date of birth. Unbelievably, the card states that Gotho was born December 31, 1870. That's right, Gotho is 145-years-old. He has outlived all ten of his siblings, four wives and his children. He has reached a point where his only desire is to die and he has been preparing for that for twenty-four years ago. If his age can be confirmed, it would mean that he would hold the world record for oldest human recorded in our present era. That record is currently held by Jeanne Calment, a French woman who died in 1997 at the age of 122. When asked what his secret to longevity was, Gotho remarked that is was "patience." Such an answer coming from a man who has wished and prepared for death over two decades, seems rather ironic and the fact that he has lived so long, certainly is odd!

This Day in History - US President McKinley Shot

One this day, September 6th, in 1901, United States President William McKinley is shot and mortally wounded. President McKinley was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo New York and he was shaking hands with the public inside the Temple of Music on that fateful day in 1901. The President had been re-elected for a second term in 1900 and he was a popular president because he liked to meet with the public. One member of that public waiting to meet President McKinley, was Leon Czolgosz. Czolgosz had lost his job during the Panic of 1893 and he was very bitter. He had turned to Anarchism and one goal of the political philosophy was to kill political leaders. Czolgosz shot the President when he reached to shake his hand. The bullet entered his abdomen. The President was rushed for medical care, but no one was able to find the bullet in his body and soon gangrene took hold. President McKinley died on September 13th. Czolgosz was sentenced to death and he met his end in the electric chair. President McKinley was the third president to be assassinated and it was his death that finally got Congress to charge the Secret Service with the duty of protecting the President.

Shanghai Tunnels (Suggested by C. Laurel Boaz, Lisa Lindermann and Michelle Vaugh)

Portland, Oregon was known in Victorian times as the "City of Roses" and it has retained that nickname for over a century. The Portland Underground is known more readily as the Shanghai Tunnels. These tunnels that snaked through what is today Old Town and Chinatown, were used for practical business purposes, but they also serviced the seedy side of things in the city. Some parts of these tunnels can still be accessed today and they reveal a dark, cob-webbed maze that one would not want to enter without a strong flashlight and a good guide. Spirits are reputed to lurk here. Is it because men and women were carried off for human slavery operations through these tunnels? Was it the era of Prohibition that has led to spectral activity? Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Shanghai Tunnels! *Fun Fact: "Keep Portland Weird" is its popular slogan*

Portland, Oregon early in its beginning was inhabited by the Chinook tribe. They were foragers and fishermen and it was this tribe that Lewis and Clark encountered on their expedition in 1805. The Chinookan people practiced flat-boarding, which is a process that would flatten the back of the skull. This would be started when a baby was 3 months old and continued until one year of age. The deformed skull was a sign of a higher social standing. For this reason, white explorers referred to them as "Flathead Indians." The Oregon Trail soon brought settlers to the area and the Chinook were pushed into a smaller region. The massive amounts of trees made Portland a lumber town. And the proximity it had to the Columbia River and the Williamette River gave it a foothold in shipping. Settlers flocked from the East Coast. Portland came by its name in a unique way. Believe it or not, it came down to the flip of a penny.  Two men, Maine merchant Francis Pettygrove and Massachusetts lawyer Asa Lovejoy, flipped a penny to decide if the town would be called Portland or Boston after their respective hometowns. Portland was incorporated in 1851 and today is Oregon's largest city.

During the 19th century, the demand for able-bodied men on ships grew. The best place to recruit these men was in port cities.  A practice began during this time because there were not enough men willing to go to sea. This practice was called shanghaiing and it took place in most major ports. Portland was one such place. Shanghaiing was at its base, kidnapping. In most places where this happened, men would be drinking in a bar and crimps or kidnappers would approach and offer them something else to drink. Usually this was drugged liquor. Other times, men were just knocked out or grabbed and tied up. The men would awaken to find themselves aboard a ship being ordered to work. Many would spend months at sea in servitude. Crimps were usually middlemen who would sell their victims to captains of ships. Shanghaiing had a unique twist in Portland, where this occurred from the 1850s to the 1940s, because there was an underground there.

Like most cities in the 1800s, Portland's streets were dirt, which meant that much of the time they were mud. This made it hard to transport goods in a bustling port city. A catacomb of tunnels was built beneath Portland starting in the 1870s with many finished by 1894, after the flood in the city that year. Chinese laborers built most of the substructure. The tunnels were brick archways built between basement areas of businesses. They snaked through the North End and South End of town. This basically would connect the modern day Chinatown to downtown Portland. In the North End of town was a bar known as Lazlo's Saloon. It is today a fusion restaurant known as Hobo's and this is where one of the main tunnels ran from. A trapdoor was located at the back of the saloon where victims were dropped down through, their shoes were removed and they were locked in a cell for a time. In case they woke up before they were moved to a ship that was ready to leave port, broken glass was spread on the floor, making escape difficult and leaving a trail of blood to be followed. That trap door has been tiled over at Hobo's Restaurant.

The main purpose of the tunnels was to connect the Williamette Riverfront to businesses in town, making the transport of goods easier. We have heard of similar tunnels in other cities and many times, these underground areas would be used for nefarious or secret purposes. They were used to carry people from gambling halls to opium dens to brothels, without being seen by the public. Access would come through the basements of these various establishments. During Prohibition, the tunnels were used to run liquor. Underground speakeasies were fashioned in the tunnels and barrels of booze were stored along the walls. Human trafficking continued until the early 1940s when it became no longer profitable.

The ease with which shanghaiing could be practiced in Portland because of the tunnels, made it one of the most dangerous cities to visit and it was considered the capital of shanghaiing. Men would be dropped through trapdoors down into the tunnels to be scuttled off to the port. Or at least, that is what the legends surrounding these tunnels claim. There is no actual proof that the tunnels were used for this purpose. While it is clear, that the tunnels were not specifically built for shanghaiing, they certainly could have been quite useful and we're sure that some kidnapped men and women were moved through them. Some researchers claim that number to be 1500 a year. And why wouldn't these tunnels be used? They are perfect for such a practice.

The tunnels are dim and dank, with cobwebs clinging to the dark corners. One can only imagine what the tunnels were like before they were finally closed off in the 1950s. Cascade Historical Society discovered the tunnels and opened up some of them and renovated them. These areas can now be toured. There are holding cells and unearthed artifacts from a bygone era in the tunnels. People reportedly died down here, either murdered or by accident. Something lurks here. Something not human and mainly unseen. Some experiences are residual and some are intelligent and violent. People excavating artifacts in the tunnel claim to have had bricks thrown at them. Paranormal investigators have set up wind chimes to indicate when a spirit passes by. This seems dubious at best since this area is under a shaking and vibrant city, but there is not suppose to be any air flow in the tunnels.

One of the spirits reputed to be here is found beneath the former Merchant Hotel. A young prostitute had been talking to some missionaries in the early 1900s and they told her that they wanted to rescue her from this life. Her employers discovered that she planned to leave and she was thrown down the elevator shaft. Her full-bodied apparition is seen not only in the Old Town Pizza that is located in what was the Merchant Hotel's lobby, but in the basement area connected to the tunnels. She has been seen in both black and white.

Those who died in captivity seem to remain in spirit form. They have been seen as full-bodied apparitions and felt as icy cold spots. Hulking dark figures are attributed to the crimps that ran people through the tunnels. Dark corners suddenly move as though the shadow has come to life. Some claim that these shadows have piercing red eyes.

The basement of the Lotus Nightclub is home to an evil and angry male entity that is reputed to be a bartender who worked in tandem with the crimps. Employees won't go into the basement alone. Glasses are thrown and moved around and CO2 tanks in the basement have been turned on by themselves. Glowing, human-shaped forms are seen climbing up stairs out of the tunnel. People have heard audible voices say both "stay" and "get out."

One of the most frightening experiences usually happens once a year on an anniversary. Back in 1902, the Jennifer Jo was a four-masted schooner that was leaving the port in Portland. On board was a crew of 100 men that had been shanghaiied. They were chained together in the hull of the boat. The ship sank in the Portland Harbor. The crew died. It is said that every year, on the day of the sinking, the crew runs through the entrance of the tunnels the closest to the water. They seem to be looking for the crimps that took them and enslaved them. Several people claim to have seen them and felt as though the group was going to run into them. Even more chilling are the claims of being touched by cold, wet hands.

There is a wolf associated with the tunnels, which seems strange. There is a legend about a Native American man who worked on a Longboat helping to turn the ships in the harbor and he was tall and strong. A crimp wanted to capture him because he felt he could get a lot of money for him. A group of men surrounded him on the streets. Suddenly, he shape-shifted into a wolf and got down on all fours. The men ran in terror. It is said that to this day, the cry of the wolf can be heard along the riverfront. Homeless people claim to hear the call on the night air. People who have heard it are sure that it is not a dog or a coyote. The wolf has been seen in the Underground.

The practice of shanghaiing was cruel and brutal. Such activity builds up strong negative emotions. How many men and women died wanting justice for what had happened to them? Were these tunnels used for shanghaiing? Do spirits of those who lost their lives in the tunnels still remain here? Are the Shanghai Tunnels haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:
Diane's article at Entwined Podcast:  http://www.entwinedpodcast.com/news/fingerfood10

Pictures from Christopher Klimovitz of Hunedoara Castle in Romania:


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