The Pendleton Underground reveals Oregon history
written by Sheila G. Miller
Pendleton, like many old cities, has a sordid secret.
Underneath its city streets, it hid tunnels and a red light district built at the turn of the twentieth century.
Discovered when potholes started showing up on the streets in the 1980s, the tunnels were used in the early 1900s primarily by Chinese living in Pendleton to avoid interactions with locals, and other people taking part in less-than-legal activities.
Pendleton Underground Tours is a nonprofit that started giving tours of the tunnels in 1989. The tour provides historical context to the dark side of Pendleton, including bootlegging, prostitution and gambling. It also tells the story of the Chinese who lived in Eastern Oregon and helped build the state to what it is today.