Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pendleton--The Real West

After our tour of Hanford, we headed to Pendleton.  We have lived here for 20 years and have never visited Pendleton.  I was looking forward to seeing the home of the Pendleton Roundup.  That evening we went to Hamley's Steakhouse for dinner.  We were pleasantly surprised.  It was a relatively new restaurant built in 2006 but the Hamley name has been synonymous with Pendleton since 1883.  The family started out as saddle makers and had a Western store.  There is also a cafe in addition to the steakhouse and saloon.  Even though the steakhouse is a newly opened space, it is beautifully decorated in the style of the Old West.  And Bill was able to get his red meat fix.
Friday morning while Bill was doing some work.  I wandered around town taking pictures.  I did a little shopping at the Pendleton Woolen Mills and found the Roundup rodeo grounds.  Bill and I also took in the Umatilla County Historical Museum before we headed to our scheduled Underground Tour.
I've been on the Seattle Underground Tour and have been watching a lot of episodes of "Cities of the Underworld" so I was really looking forward to going on the tour.  As with any underground, there is a seedy history about it.  Chinese workers actually built the tunnels linking the basements to buildings all over the downtown.  There were some legitimate businesses.  An ice cream parlor made and stored its ice cream in the basement.  Empire Meat Co. had an ice water bath in the basement to keep its meat cold in the butchering process making them the most successful meat company in town because their meat lasted longer.  There was also a space that served as a shooting gallery at one time and then a pool hall and bowling alley.  But at various stages in history there were all kinds of illegal activities going on down there.  There were bars that took cowboys' gold as payment and there would be a little bit of over charging as the night went on.  The girls from the brothels would hang out in the bars as well.  During prohibition, there were speakeasies and illegal gambling rooms with secret passageways to escape when the police showed up.  And bootlegging whiskey. 
A big part of the underground involved the Chinese.  There was a group of about 90 Chinese workers that were basically indentured servants that built the tunnel system--partly so that they could move around town.  They were forced to live underground and there was a curfew at night that made it illegal to be above ground.  So they would use the tunnel system to get to where they needed to go at night.  There were also about a thousand Chinese workers in town at the time that they were building the railroad.  The Chinese that had paid for their own passage to America were able to live in homes above ground but at one point all their homes were burned to the ground.  The city did not allow them to rebuild as the property was pretty valuable by that time so they were forced to move to the Portland area.  Hop Sing had a laundry and bathhouse in the underground.  Near the Chinese worker living quarters was also a Chinese jail.  They Chinese dealt with their own prisoners.  And there was an opium den down there. 
The last part of the tour was seeing one of the 18 bordellos that existed in Pendleton.  We got to see the former Cozy Rooms.  It had a chapel for the girls to worship in because they were not welcome at the local churches.  We saw the parlor, madam's room, the working rooms and living quarters for the girls, and the secret passageways to get the prominent members of the community in and out of the building unseen.  The brothels officially existed until about 1953 when a Presbyterian minister blackmailed the city's prominent members to have them shutdown; however, the madam of the Cozy Rooms, Stella Darby, promptly moved around the corner and started Cozy Rooms 2.  It was open until 1967 when she decided to close for good.  Cozy Rooms 2 is now the Working Girls Hotel--also owned by the Pendleton Underground Tours company.  It was a very interesting tour for anyone who plans to travel to Pendleton.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had an awesome trip to Pendleton... glad to hear that you got back safely, and opted NOT to change careers! How fascinating all of this history is. I love the history of the West, with all of its colorful characters! Your photos and layouts are awesome!