Each summer North Coast audiences are amused by the story of a young man who barely escapes being kidnapped and sold to a sea captain. "Shanghaied In Astoria" draws inspiration from the practice of human trafficking that was common along the city waterfront a century ago.History buffs and volunteers in Portland are hauling out new items from a tunnel section beneath their city that has been closed off to the public. It could prove just how deep a secret underground business of human trafficking seeped through the city of Portland.
History aficionados are finding some interesting items of historic importance, but the section is also different than others in the city because of how it was used to kidnap people roughly 100 years ago.
"It was very dark and dreary in Portland's past," said Michael P. Jones, curator of Shanghai Tunnel/Portland Underground.
An entryway leads to the section of the city's underground tunnels beneath the Rich Hotel in Old Town. So far, they've found precious items like dated initials from 1918 and 1930 scribbled on pillars.
They're preserving anything they can, including a bottle dating back to the 1880s. It was used up to the time of prohibition. There's still more digging ahead for the group and more history to uncover underneath modern Portland. The work will include more cleanup work and restoration.
Jones is planning on giving tours to the public in the near future. He says hopes to open a museum below and one above.