Friday, November 13, 2009

Ghost Hunting in Portland

So this post is about a month overdue - it's not all THAT fascinating but since I have absolutely nothing to blog about today, I thought this would suffice.

If you'll remember I went to Portland, Oregon, back in October, for our Canadian Thanksgiving. I was super excited - not only because it's Portland, which is just a terribly cool city, but because I was doing some research for my book.

As it happens, my main character in my series is from Portland. And one of the really neat ways to explore the city is to go on a walking tour.

Now, when I travel I'm usually alone and I'll usually go on a self-guided, wander around a place until I get my bearings. But because we were short on time, I had Mike with me and I had heard that there was one tour that dealt with the "ghostly" side of the city, I had to do it.

It was perfect...not only does my novel (and future ones in the series) deal with ghosts but it was right before Halloween and I just adore being all ghost huntery and shizz (as you probably know from this post here).

My planning, however, was a little bit off. The only tour available for the whole weekend was Friday at 10PM. That meant I had to get off work at 330PM on Friday afternoon.

We got through the border at 5PM which wasn't bad considering it was a long weekend after all, and from previous trips I knew it took "roughly" four hours to get to Portland along the I-5.

I didn't take into account though, stopping for gas and eating Jack in the Box, having to later stop at a gas station bathroom outside of Seattle for a bit (damn you Jack!) and then letting Mike drive for 20 minutes - in which during this time he SOMEHOW managed to get off the I-5 and was heading east for Spokane.

I do you do that? It's pretty straightforward...stay on the I-5...head south. That's it! But for the five minutes I was looking down because I was fiddling with my iPod, he managed to take some exit and we ended up on a half hour detour.

Enraged I threw him out of the driver's seat and got back in myself. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!

I don't know how we didn't get stopped by cops - I counted TWENTY police cars on the I-5 that night - but I put my foot to the pedal and vroomed down Washington State at 130KM an hour. I've never driven so fast for such a consistent period of time...I literally did not take my foot off the gas for two hours straight. I was super high on two giant cans of Rockstar, new MUSE was blaring through the speakers and I was just giving 'er.

We pulled into downtown Portland at 9:56PM. Parked it in a nearby parkade and ran down the street to the Old Towne Pizza Parlour where the tour was meeting. We were the last ones and everyone else was waiting for us.

Now I must say I was a bit disappointed when I found out that this tour wasn't going to take us through the Shanghai Tunnels - I was really looking forward to that. But we did get a glimpse of one of the Shanghai Tunnels in the scary basement of the pizza parlour. The restaurant used to be a brothel and is haunted by the ghost of the brothel's owner, Nina (pronounced Nigh-na), who was found dead at the bottom of the elevator shaft.

The basement was also made creepier thanks to the little ghost gadgets we were given - they basically lit up from green (mild) to red (wild) whenever electrical currents were found. There is a theory with ghosts and currents and all that and it was quite thrilling to have it light up in spots that there shouldn't be anything happening.

After spending sometime wandering around the basement, we learned more about "shanghaiing" and the tunnels of Portland:

"From the 1850s to the early 20th century, the tunnels were used to kidnap or "shanghai" unsuspecting laborers and sell them as slaves to waiting ships at the waterfront. According to folklore, as many as 1500 people per year were shanghaied out of Portland through the tunnels. However, there are no records to support this number. Allegedly, victims were drugged or knocked out, taken through one of the trap doors (or deadfalls), and held in a prison cell while they waited to be shipped off. Later, during Prohibition, the tunnels were inhabited by bars that literally went underground to sell alcohol."

Then it was up to the streets where we stopped by the Church of Elvis, a famous, wacky automated fortune-teller:

Next stop, the Benson Hotel, which has numerous ghost stories. One deals with a man who walks down this staircase in the lobby:

The others involve ghosts on certain floors and something very strange the receptionist saw one day...a very freaky story indeed, I'm using it in my next novel haha so I'm not enclined to share it!

The tour took us past haunted bars, such as Kellys:

Past more haunted buildings and stories about ghostly investigations in the area. At this point I was just blown away by the amazing history of the city. No wonder the city's motto is "KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD."

Being so close to the river, Portland has been known to flood, as you can tell by this high water marker. One clever entrepeneur would float down the streets in a canoe, selling beer to people.

One of the last stops we had was at the Portland Police Station. The parking lot across the street used to be where the prison was...and apparently was also built ontop of an "ancient Indian burial ground." As you do!

Nonetheless, when we walked around the parking lot our meters started going crazy. With the full moon in the sky and the dark, crisp night, we couldn't help but feel just a tad spooked out.

The tour ended with a stop at Voodoo Donuts and some more low-key tales. It was a long tour - almost three hours of walking - but was very enjoyable. Our only complaint was that we wished we could have explored more haunted sites instead of just the pizza place and hotel lobby but I guess they need permission...and more time! As a walking tour though, I really recommend it. I feel like I got to know Portland on a much more intimate level, and as I said before, I can't WAIT to go back.

SO - my question for you, dear reader, is this: have YOU ever seen anything ghostly or some strange experience you can't explain? I can't promise it won't end up in a future novel though, LOL.

OH YEAH! Winner of the Forever 21 Dress is....*Drumroll* 6:14PM.

Congrats!! Woot woot! Send me your deets via my email (see sidebar). CIAO!

You're listening to Retrovertigo by Mr. Bungle, another amazing song by Mike Patton and the Bungle gang. And just eerie enough for a ghost post.


Fashion Court said...

looks like a fun tour, i went to something similar in gettysburg and was freaked out that entire night hahaha

Couture Carrie said...

Spooky-fun post, darling!
Love your look :)

And congrats to the winner!


Anonymous said...

YAY!!! That's me! Will send you an email this afternoon... Thank you!!

Rachel said...

When I was a freshman in high school i was hanging out with my friend Danielle in her room in the basement. We lived in a REALLY small town (population less than 180) in eastern Colorado so everyone knew everyone and all of their business. We knew that the guy that had lived in the house before her parents bought it had committed suicide. Not in a scary story way - just very matter of fact. Danielle had told me that she thought she felt something "funny" in the house a couple of times but neither of us thought much about it. She had sheets hung up between two walls which seperated her room from the rest of the basement. We were talking and she looked over and saw a shadow on one of the sheets. We thought it was her brother so we started yelling at him to get back upstairs. Shadow didn't move. So I finally got fed up and walked over to the "door" to yell at him myself, lifted the sheet aside and there wasn't anybody there. Shadow was still there but we were the only two people in the basement. We both just sat there in shock until whatever it was walked away. Once the shadow was gone we proceeded to freak out and run upstairs. But at least we managed to stay calm while whatever it was was there.

Rachel said...

Interesting side note to my previous comment. Danielle was killed in a car crash about 8 months later. My twin sister and I were supposed to have been with her when it happened but we ended up having to go to see family that day. It probably saved us, but I still see her every once in awhile - just standing and watching. Not sure if its just my imagination, or if she is really there, but I like to think of her now as my own guardian angel.

kayla! said...

I grew up in Fort Worth, TX and there's a bed and breakfast in the Stockyards that's supposed to be haunted. My friend's aunt was in charge of the place for a period of time so all my girlfriends and I stayed there for the night. We played with a Ouija board to try to get some sort of reading, but didn't get anything. My friend claims to have seen someone riding on a saddle that was at the foot of our bed. She also swears the fuzzy things in the pictures were orbs. I didn't see anything, but she was pretty convinced.

Eyeliah said...

I HAVE to visit this city!

FabBlab said...

This looks like so much fun! Congrats to the lucky winner!

daisychain said...

wow, that sounds like a fantastic experience.

sadly nothing like that goes on here, I'd so be there if it did!

ldchristopher said...

Nice post. A couple of things you should know about. Nina was not a madam. Nina was sold by white slavers as a prostitute. She was not killed in that building but in one on that block. Since the basements were open to each other, at one time you could walk to the building where the elevator shaft was. It was not under Old Towne Pizza. I have seen three full body ghosts in the Shanghai Tunnels. One I saw, talk to, it talked back, and everyone with me saw it happen. If you are back in Portland you might want to look up and watch the Travel Channel's Most Terrifying Places in America 2.

Vegas Princess said...

I would love to take that tour! There are some great ones in Salem, MA.

There is a haunted inn in my hometown that housed part of the Underground Railroad. I have seen shapes and eerie things in there several times. Also, we have places around our town where witches fled the Salem Witch Trials and spooky stuff happens around there. These are just some of the things I love about growing up in a New England town full of history.

Anika said...

Wow, you learn something new every day! Thanks for the lesson in the wierd and wonderful: ghost hunting edition ;)

I don't have any spectacularly spooky stories. Look forward to hearing some though.

And congrats to the winner :)

Underfunded Heiress said...

Creepy! I love ghost stuff. I actually saw this on a show about Portland. Pretty cool.

Croaker said...

It all sounds like a lot of fun to me.

Alice said...

DC has lots of fun ghost stories, given its history, and i've been meaning to do one of these! maybe next halloween...

jann said...

Hon, y'all left out, or missed,the White Eagle bar in n.Portland, among multitudes of other places- those ya got are good, I also suggest the lot at west end of Lone Fir Cemetery, it was a Chinese burial ground turn of the last century, and not all were removed to send to China, especially females and children. This is a really haunted city, as is Vancouver, Wa.,across the river. Yeah, I live in Portland... and a very busy building... contact me, I can tell you more-