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Pendleton Underground Tour

I took a trip to Pendleton, OR with my mom and dad last week and we did the Pendleton Underground Tour with my aunt and uncle. This was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I’ve always been fascinated with the old west so this tour was right up my alley. There is so much history, much of it beneath our very feet. Oh, most has been covered by the progression of time but every now and then there are these nuggets of treasure that have been preserved so that we can get a glimpse into the past.

The tour began above ground with a little video about the history of Pendleton and some of her most notable notables. The guide regaled us with tales of life in the west and during Prohibition. The underground rooms we visited had artifacts from the time periods, making it all the easier to imagine what life must have been like. This tour was definitely fodder for the imagination! I may have to incorporate this area into a future novel πŸ˜‰

gold dust


In the first underground saloon we visited, the tour guide did a demo of the barkeep taking pinches of gold dust and weighing it out for drinks. Turns out that most folks were paid in that rather than coin and kept it in small sacks on their belts. The barkeep would spill the dust on the bar, wipe it on the floor, get his boots covered in mud, traipse through the dust, and scrape if off when he got back to his room. Pretty slick way to make tips πŸ˜‰



The Chinese often ran the bathhouses and laundry. But sometimes a bath wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Imagine having gone without a bath for a year (perhaps longer). You come into town, get a few drinks at the bar, spot a whore you’d like to get to know a little better, realize you stink worse than the cattle you’ve been tending and decide to go have a bath. Well, it’s all well and good if you’re the first guy. He gets fresh water. But the guy running the bath and laundry doesn’t have time to heat water and each patron. So he charges the most for the first bath, a little less for the second since the person is bathing in water the first guy used, the third cheaper still, and on it goes.

Major ewwwwww!



This was taken in a room just outside a speak easy. It had a super high floor and no lights other than the sunlight filtering from the skylight. They were made of manganese-infused glass that gave the light this neat purple glow. They were placed strategically near windows into the underground rooms to provide light. All but this one have been removed from the streets of Pendleton. When you see it on the sidewalk looking down on it, you’d never imagine that light would be able to shine through this well.

speak easy


This was a hidden door in the speak easy. On the other side is the room with the neat skylight. When the cops would come sniffing around, the drunks would be ushered through this door and into the room. The speak easy had tobacco bags with moth balls in them to hide the smell of the booze.

chapel at Madam Stella's


This was a chapel in the brothel belonging to Madam Stella. She was in business until the 1960’s. Her girls were very well taken care of. They learned to cook, sew, type, save money. When Madam Stella passed away, hers was the second most attended funeral. The first was Sheriff Tillman.

This was such an amazing trip through time. I’d highly recommend this to anyone in the Pendleton, OR area. You won’t be disappointed πŸ˜€

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3 Comments on “Pendleton Underground Tour”

  1. lisafender July 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Great pics! I was wondering where you disappeared to!

    • drshaywest July 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

      Between moving and the vacation, I was a busy girl πŸ˜€ Enjoying the little touch-ups and painting


  1. What’s Your Favorite Souvenir? | Dr. Shay West - July 15, 2013

    […] posted recently about my trip to Pendleton, OR and the visit to the Pendleton Underground. While browsing through the gift shop I came across a totally silly souvenir that said […]

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