Pendleton Underground

With the biggest storm blowing through the Pacific Northwest this year, Paul and I loaded our stuff into my trusty Nissan Versa to try and outrun the rain clouds. Our trip started this morning, with our first destination being Pendleton, Oregon. Sometimes living in Oregon you have to get creative with things to do during the winter months, so when Paul suggested checking out the Pendleton Underground tour, I was totally game!

Below the streets of Pendleton lies a secret world that once ran rampant with bootlegging, gambling and prostitution. The underground tunnels that were built by Chinese laborers, also housed the Chinese who were forbidden from showing their faces above ground once the sun went down. The tour also winds you through a bathhouse, a laundry facility, an ice cream parlor, a meat market, a Chinese jail, and a brothel.

Pendleton once housed 18 brothels in total, but the Cozy Rooms were the most popular. Men would climb the “32 steps to heaven” to the cozy rooms looking for company. Madam Stella Darby resided here from 1928 until she retired in 1967. Although many disapproved of Stella’s work, she was also known for being very generous to her community as well as helping her working girls transition to “civilian life”. It’s a fascinating tour that I would recommend to anyone.

Our evening in Pendleton was topped off by an amazing dinner at the famous Hamley’s Steak House. As you can see, Paul is very content with his butter rum coffee and creme brulee. 🙂


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