Basements That Are Scarier Than Any of the Ones You Remember From Childhood

Posted on 08/01/2010
Views 61,182
Shares 0

As a child it seems that everybody has many overlapping fears. We all had unwarranted fears of monsters under our beds or creatures hiding in our closets, but perhaps the most common irrational childhood fear is the fear of the rooms that lied beneath the first level of our homes. People have feared basements for decades and I imagine that you would be hard pressed finding someone who has never felt creeped out while in a basement. Most of us believe that these fears are irrational, but here a couple of basements that may prove that we absolutely should fear basements.

Shanghai Tunnels


The Shanghai Tunnels in Portland, Oregon is considered by many to be the most haunted site in the state. The tunnels connect several basements of local hotels and bars to the Willamette River. The tunnels run from Old Town to downtown Portland. They were originally constructed so business owners could quickly and efficiently send and receive goods from the shipyard in the Willamette River, but according to legend the tunnels also had a more sinister purpose.

From the 1850s to the early 1900s the tunnels were used in the atrocious practice of “shanghaiing”. What would occur is a drunk would come in for a drink at a bar. The drunk would eventually be forcefully taken from the bar and transported through the tunnels and placed on a ship. The ship’s captain would pay the men who brought the drunk to him and he would use the kidnapped drunk as slave labor aboard his ship. Many of these ships would be heading for Shanghai, China, which is where the term shanghaiing comes from. Many estimate that as many as 1500 men and women were kidnapped during this time period. The men used for slave labor and the women forced into prostitution.

Today it is said that the restless and angry spirits of those kidnapped and drug through the tunnels still remain there. People report hearing human moaning in pain, crying, and even screaming when they are in the tunnels. The most famous ghost is affectionately called Nina and is said to haunt the tunnels below a local pizzeria. People will often smell strong women’s perfume that has no source and this is often attributed to Nina. It is also said that she will often touch or tug on an individual.

Bobby Mackey's Music World

The building that is now Bobby Mackey’s was constructed in the 1850s to be a meat packing/slaughter house. The business prospered for many years before closing in the early 1900s. After its closing the building was rumored to be the meeting place of a satanic cult. Then, in 1896, this rumor gained clout when one of the most prolific murders in Kentucky history occurred. This murder reportedly has led to the basement of Bobby Mackey’s Music World to be considered the source of a malevolent paranormal activity.

Pearl Bryan was an attractive, educated, and well-off young girl, so when she graduated from high school she had many men competing for her attention. The man who ended up winning her attention was her cousin’s, William Woods, best friend. The man’s name was Scott Jackson. Woods and Jackson met as they had similar dreams. Jackson was studying dentistry while Woods was attending medical school. Jackson and Pearl grew very close and Jackson became part of the family, but their perfect world would soon came crashing down on them when Pearl became pregnant.

Pearl confided in her cousin William about her out of wedlock pregnancy. William then informed Jackson of the issue. Jackson decided that the pregnancy had to be terminated. On February 1, 1896 Pearl made arrangements to meet with Jackson and a man named Alonzo Walling, who was Jackson’s college roommate, in Cincinnati. She was five months pregnant at the time.

Jackson and Walling attempted to perform an abortion on Pearl using dental instruments, but botched the job. Pearl began bleeding and started to panic. Jackson and Walling now had to deal with a distraught young girl, who was screaming in pain. The trio fled Cincinnati at Jackson’s request and traveled to Kentucky. Jackson took them to a secluded spot near Fort Thomas. Jackson, believing there was no other option, murdered Pearl Bryan with the help of Walling. The two men removed her head using the same dental tools used in the botched abortion.

Authorities discovered Pearl’s body just off the Alexandria Turnpike, which is less than two miles from the abandoned slaughterhouse. The strange thing is that police only discovered her body; her head was nowhere to be found. According to Walling’s testimony during the murder trial, it had been Jackson’s idea to remove the head. Walling claimed that Jackson took the head for purposes that were unbeknown to him.


-Picture from local newspaper at the time of the murder trial-

Many believe that Jackson and Walling were both involved with the satanic cult that operated in the abandoned slaughterhouse near where Pearl’s body was discovered. It was theorized the Jackson used Pearl’s head in a satanic ritual and tossed it down the well located in the basement of the slaughterhouse. Jackson and Walling were hanged for their crimes. It is said that before his death that Jackson promised to come back and haunt those who executed him.

Today the slaughterhouse no longer stands. In its place is Bobby Mackey’s Music World nightclub. Part of the original slaughterhouse does still exist inside Bobby Mackey’s and it is the ominous well in the basement. Carl Lawson was one of the first employees hired by Bobby Mackey. Lawson also rented the loft above the bar and spent a lot of time working during the after hours. Lawson soon began hearing and seeing strange things.


One night while sleeping, Lawson was awakened by the sound of the jukebox. Lawson got up went downstairs to the club and unplugged the machine. He was awakened again a couple hours later by the jukebox. Something or someone had plugged it back in and restarted the song. The paranormal activity increased as time went on and Lawson began hearing a disembodied voice talking to him. The voice identified itself as Johanna. Johanna and Lawson would carry on conversations with one another even during business hours leading many to believe that Lawson was talking to himself and perhaps losing his mind.

Many soon began understanding that Lawson was not crazy at all but was in fact hearing something very real when they also began experience paranormal activity. Janet Mackey, Bobby Mackey’s wife had a terrifying experience where an invisible entity shoved her down the stairs while screaming, “Get out!” She was 5 months pregnant at the time of this incident. Other guests and employees began having experiences as well, like seeing apparitions and witnessing poltergeist activity. One customer even attempted to sue Bobby Mackey when he claimed a ghost wearing a cowboy hat attacked him while he was using the bathroom. The case was dismissed.

Many of the paranormal investigators who have visited the nightclub believe that the paranormal activity is centered on the well in the basement. They believe that the well is a gate to the spirit world that was opened, accidentally or otherwise, due to the occult rites that were performed using the well.


-Pic of the now concrete sealed well-

The terrifying basements from your childhood probably never had slaves trafficked through them and it most likely did not have a door to the afterlife in it either, but many people believe with great convictions that these basements are haunted by some unseen entities, so who is to say that the irrational paranoia and fear that you feel in your basement also is not caused by something real.

Author: Jonathan Kaulay Copyrighted © One page article

Latest Articles