White Eagle Saloon - Portland, Oregon

Across the river from Portland's shanghai tunnels, the White Eagle Saloon welcomed the seedier side of frontier life in the early 20th century. After the work whistle blew, men left docks hungry and searching for more than food. They'd board the trolley that lumbered up Mississippi Avenue and leapt off in droves as the conductor yelled out, "Next stop, Bucket of Blood!" So named for the brawls that erupted in the saloon and crept out into the night, the White Eagle's less than pristine reputation rivaled the infamous tunnels in Portland's Chinatown.

The two-storied brick building housed a "white" brothel upstairs and a "black and Chinese" brothel in the basement. The lonely spirit of Rose wanders the thirteen rooms upstairs, her weeping heard to echo the silent rooms. Rose was a "working girl" and considered the personal property of the saloon manager. One of her paying customers had fallen in love with the girl and wanted to take her away from this life of danger and dead-ends. Frightened by the prospect of confronting the manager, Rose refused. When her young lover faced his cruel adversary, he was beaten nearly to death. Undaunted and sure of his love, he again pleaded with Rose to run away with him. When she refused, he grew enraged and stabbed her to death in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Rose didn't let that little mishap daunt her spirit, patrons have reported being propositioned by a woman that could only be the ghost of the long-dead prostitute.

Now owned by the McMenamin Corporation, the previous owner had ventured upstairs only when needed. The rooms all have working locks though each time he attempted to enter the rooms, some would refuse to open while others stood ready for visitors. He closed off the upper level and simply let the inhabitants be. Another spirit that haunts the upstairs is that of Sam. Taken in as a child, he worked in the saloon the length of his life. When he died an old man, his shade continued to watch over his home. His belongings remained in his room though they have been found moved to other rooms on the second floor. Passersby have reported seeing the image of a man gazing from the second floor windows as they pass by, perhaps he's watch over them too.

The basement held the secrets of saloon. The black and Chinese women brought in from the docks or sold as virtual slaves were held in tiny rooms and made to sell their bodies in lieu of beatings from the management. Children born to the women were disposed of quickly so they could return to work. The spirits of these desperate women clog the atmosphere, their pain etched into the walls and mark the air. A tunnel was dug to assist the owners in their nefarious deeds of drugging men and selling them to ship captains a quarter of a mile away on the Willamette River. Snaking through the banks of the river, the men never had a chance. One owner of the saloon in recent times had an office in the basement. At night, he would hear over the low hum of his television, music cascading down from the bar after closing. Another time, coins would fall from the ceiling into the basement. At one time, he felt what appeared to be a strong earthquake that shook the building to its core. When turning to the television, he could find no reports for what he had just felt. A waitress, beginning her decent down into the basement was shoved from behind, in full view of the owner. She tumbled the length of the stairs and sustained minor injuries.

The bar section is a long, narrow band that spans the building front to back. Tequila was the beverage of choice for many years, the patrons lining up to match the row of shot glasses on the bar. There is a small dance area near the back and live music dominates on many nights. The spirits apparently have frequented the bathrooms. One lady, while using the facilities, entered into a toilet paper fight over the stall walls with a friend, only to discover there was no one there after her friend had left ages earlier.

Luckily for us, McMenamin's has decided to open up the rooms upstairs for nightly visitors. Rates are incredibly cheap so if you'd like to stay after imbibing a bit too much Jose, please contact their website and make a reservation for a room with a BOO! (Sorry, I just had to do it)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

BOO!

Bk30 said...

hmm a great place to visit..but not sure I want to sleep there lol.

Peggy said...

The saloon has such a sad and fascinating background - it seems you are as much historian as you are ghost hunter. Very interesting.

Stacey said...

I loved going to this place though at the time we couldn't go upstairs. I did, however, check out the ladies room but nothing exciting happened, lol.

Harbormaster said...

Seems like many ghost stories are the aftermath of a tormented life and an unsettled spirit. The living conditions and desperate lives lead by these women could easily make us believe they would come back and haunt this place.

Like bk says, I might visit, but I'm not staying!

Anonymous said...

I recently stayed in Sam's room, it was nice, comfortable, and the only sound I heard was some birds nesting on or in the ceiling!

Stacey said...

Thank you for your first-hand account! I hope you had a great time!

Stacey

Peaches_LaRue said...

I've been lucky to stay there a couple times. The first time nothing exciting happened...but this last time my boyfriend and I both experienced our bed moving in an odd manner. After mentioning to him that this place is haunted we went to sleep. Later that night he claimed to have either drempt of a man in a suit standing at the foot of our bed looking at us with a blank stare...or really saw him. Suggestive thinking or the real deal? Guess we'll never know :)

blueclams said...

My girlfriend and I stayed in room 5 last week... We both felt the bed move forward and back, gently swaying from the head and to the foot. It wasn't frightening, but there was NO explanation for the movement. Eeery.

LionessEatsToads said...

Can kids go to the White Eagle Saloon? Because I think it'd be cool to go over the summer!

stacey said...

I believe you can! It's been a while since I was there but McMenamins welcomes everyone, have a Ruby for me! :)

Roberta said...

We just stayed at the White Eagle last night. We did not know that it was haunted or we never would have stayed!. The first incident happened as my daughter had her head on the pillow. She felt someone lift the corner of her pillow up. She was so scared she couldn't move or do anything. We tried to just make light of it and go to sleep. As we were lying there, very tired and trying to sleep I was surprised that my daughter had her back resting against mine, but I figured since the bed was so small and since she was probably scared she liked having the contact. It wasn't until the next day that mentioned something about how we went to sleep with our backs leaning against one another. She said she never was touching me - she doesn't ever lay on her side only her stomach and she would never have imposed on my side of the bed. I guess I was sleeping with a ghost last night! Then in the middle of the night, the window in our room started banging wildly and woke us up at 5AM. The skylight in our room showed that we were having a lot of rain and a storm outside. I figured there was a lot of wind and that's what accounted for the window going crazy and making all that noise. In the morning (this morning) we opened the window and looked out and up - it didn't open to the outside at all. It is a triangular corner that has a skylight at the top. The area isn't exposed to the outside at all! The window had to have been moved by something or someone - very violently.
We were in room #13. I have to say we were very naive - we won't be staying there ever again.

Sheryl said...

I just stayed in room #2 (Sam's room) this last weekend. Had a great time, its a quaint little hotel. I really didn't experience much, except I heard music coming from downstairs after hours, but I believe that may have been the employees playing the radio while they closed up the bar. We stayed two nights and the second night we came upstairs after the bar closed and my boyfriend took his key card and headed down the hallway to the restroom. A few moments after he left, I heard the floorboards creaking at our door. I waited for him to use his key card and enter. I continued to wait about 5 more minutes and finally heard the key card unlock the door and he came inside. I asked if he had come to the door a few minutes earlier and left and he said he hadn't. I am anxious to go stay again.

Stacey Graham said...

Excellent stories, keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

#2 is were Rose died Same killed here can u guess were Jakes room is?

Yvette Lockett said...

In 1996 I was in the rehabilitation center up the street from The White Eagle. I could see the front of the saloon from my window. When I couldn't sleep, I would sit at my window and watch a very tall, maybe black man, with a hat of some kind on and he was holdindg a cane or umbrella, standing on the right side of the front entrance of The White Eagle. I was confident that he could see me too. In 2005, I got a job at the treatment center, graveyard. One night, I thought of the man in the doorway while I was working. I went and look ed out, he was not there. I felt surprised that he wasnt

Kathryn Kemp said...

We recently stayed two nights at the White Eagle Saloon in Portland - one night on the way down to San Fran & one night on our way back. I want to start by saying that the bar & hotel are beautiful and the price is right but we now believe the hotel is haunted. Neither my boyfriend or I believed in ghosts, we are very logical people and we hadn't read anything about the hotel being haunted when we booked it. Our first night in room 1 was wonderful and uneventful but our 2nd night in room 3 was down right scary. We had just got in from a brutal 10 hour drive and went straight to bed. We were lying in bed trying to fall asleep and the bed started moving up & down for no reason - we tried to rationalize that it was probably due to the bar below but it felt pretty creepy. My boyfriend proceeded to fall asleep but I was a little rattled and couldn't sleep, I kept feeling like something was tickling my toes. I eventually fell asleep too and in the morning we were abruptly awoken by what felt like a object hitting the bed very strongly from below! We were both freaked, so much so that my boyfriend was looking under the bed. When we got up we also found that the water in the sink was running. My boyfriend felt that there was something in the room that just wanted us out so that's what we did - no shower, no nothing - we high tailed it out of there! It wasn't until today that we read many articles about the hotel being haunted. It's too bad because we loved the place and the price was right but we won't be able to do another night there. If you do chose to stay - don't stay in room 3!