Infamous underground shenanigans & wool blankets
Pendleton is famous for three things; the Roundup (or a giant piss-up with a rodeo to justify it), wool blankets and whisky. Not a bad mixture. The reason we rushed to Pendleton was to make the last outing of the Pendleton underground tour. We like to try to discover the history and culture of the places we visit and this journey into the seedy underbelly of Pendleton’s culture fitted our purpose perfectly. The tour takes us down into the rooms and passages that hide below the streets of Pendleton in what used to be a bustling area of town and also doubled as the red light district. We visited several rooms that acted as bars during the prohibition years. These were staged with furniture, props and manikins to capture the spirit of the period. Beyond these underground drinking establishments there were rooms where the Chinese laborers lived. These were very cramped and unpleasant. The expansion of the railroads into the Western states bought the Chinese to town and when that work was done they remained to undertake other construction tasks. The final part of the tour was above ground and we got to visit a former bordello, one of the many that were active in the area. The local cowboys worked hard and played harder! Regular businesses, such as candy stores and butchers shared this secret underground world with the secret bars and bordellos. It is interesting to see how daily life and the nefarious coexist in what was a small, tight- knit community.
After the tour we went the Pendleton wool mills, where they make the famous blankets. Sadly it was during the summer shutdown, so no tours! We had to satisfy ourselves with the outlet shop.