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Underground Railroad in New York

Explore AKWAABA, Murphy Orchards, & Other Historic Landmarks

For many escaped slaves, New York was the last stop before freedom in Canada, and a long list of notable New Yorkers risked their own freedom to help them escape slavery. 

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Today, you can Freedom Trail Niagara Fallsvisit historic sites and preserved New York Underground Railroad safe houses that remind us how fragile freedom is.

At Auburn’s Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged you’ll discover one of our most famous Underground Railroad exhibits. An escaped slave herself, Harriet Tubman made 19 daring rescue trips back to slave-state Maryland and guided 300 people to freedom as far north as Canada.

Social reformer Gerrit Smith played a critical role in the Underground Railroad. His Peterboro estate provided safe haven for many runaway slaves, and the land office from which he sold one-dollar tracts to 3,000 African Americans is a National Historic Landmark. Volatile abolitionist John Brown made his home near Lake Placid prior to his infamous raid on Harper's Ferry. Today, his farm and gravesite remain a point of pilgrimage for many.

At interpretive centers like the Fenton History Center you’ll encounter interactive displays that engage and inspire, like “Underground Railroad, Intersections in Chautauqua County.” At Murphy Orchards in the Greater Niagara region, you can tour the 1850 Farmstead of Abolitionist Charles McClew; still a working fruit farm with tours by reservation.

ur-statue-of-Liberty-and-FireworksHistoric Brooklyn, New York reveals this borough’s role as a hub of underground railroading in the restored homes of Weeksville, a community of free African Americans.

A guided tour can bring the history of the Underground Railroad alive. In 1849, a pregnant Maryland slave woman and her seven-year old daughter escaped to freedom in Warsaw, New York, hidden for 22 days in a produce wagon. Hers is one of many stories you’ll learn in Warsaw’s Abolitionist Tour as you locate the graves of freedom fighters like Seth Gates, the Smallwood family and Daniel Hodge.

Between 1849 and the outbreak of the Civil War, New York’s Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims was a national beacon for antislavery sentiment, voiced by its minister, Henry Ward Beecher. Midday tours are offered after Sunday services. Ghosts of the past speak again in reenactment tours by Rochester’s AKWAABA: The Heritage Associates. You’ll hear stories of the Underground Railroad in the words of those who lived it, while visiting historic sites.

Related Sites:

New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation 

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