Shanghaiing at Oregon ports


A scene from Astoria during the golden age of shanghiing

Portland and Astoria were infamous ports for shanghaiing sailors.

Men known as “crimps” used knockout drops, alcohol and other means to obtain crews for sailing ship captains. Once the bodies were delivered on board ship and the crimp was paid the ship set sail.

At the height of the shanghaiing days crimps charged as much as $135 per man and stories were told of dead men, and even a cigar store wooden Indian, having been taken aboard by gullible captains. As steamships became more popular, the sailing era began to fade and large crews were no longer necessary.

In time the Portland and Astoria waterfront became relatively safe places, where a man no longer needed to worry about waking up with a hangover and being a hundred miles out to sea.

Rick Steber is an award winning writer of contemporary western stories. To find out more about his books, including non-fiction biographies and novels, audio books and DVDs, visit his website:  Writing the West

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A Moment in Oregon’s History: May 1905

Groundbreaking ceremony at the Expo

Groundbreaking ceremony at the Fair

A group of Portland’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens decided to attract attention to their city by having an international fair, with the theme built around the 1905 centennial anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Forestry Building Exterior

Forestry Building Exterior

Funding was acquired from federal and state governments, as well as from local businesses and citizens.The extravaganza featured the largest log structure in the world, over one hundred thousand light bulbs outlining the many temporary buildings, and extensive exhibits on topics ranging from agriculture to technology. The Lewis and Clark Exposition was a huge success with attendance of more than three million visitors.

Rick Steber