Pennsylvania April 06, 2018
7 Incredible Places Around Pennsylvania That Were Once Part Of The Underground Railroad
Pennsylvania is rich with history. In fact, it was the first free state that escaped slaves would come to when fleeing the south. The Underground Railroad, unlike its name might suggest, was not a railway that slaves used to flee to the north. Rather, it was a series of homes, schools, churches, and other buildings that were used to house fugitive slaves on their journey north. Abolitionists and other community members would provide shelter, care, and transport to the next stop on the journey to freedom. Here are seven incredible places around Pennsylvania that were once part of the Underground Railroad.
1. Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church – 419 South 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Mother Bethel African Methodist Church (AME), the first African-American congregation in the U.S., played a significant role, offering substantial financial backing, in the Underground Railroad. Following the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Mother Bethel AME assisted former slaves who had made their way to the Philadelphia-area. Among the well-known speakers at the church throughout its history include Martin Luther King, Jr. and Frederick Douglass.
2. White Horse Farm/Elijah F. Pennypacker House – 54 S Whitehorse Rd, Phoenixville, PA 19460
White Horse Farm, home to well-known abolitionist Elijah F. Pennypacker, became a pivotal stop on the Underground Railroad in 1840. Prior to opening his home to shelter fleeing slaves from as far away as Delaware, Pennypacker was a Congressman from 1831 to 1838. He gave up his political aspirations in 1840 to focus solely on the antislavery movement. What's more, he helped take the fugitive slaves to the next destination on their journey. None of the slaves he assisted had been arrested when with him.
3. John Brown House – 225 East King Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201
Famed abolitionist John Brown, known by his alias Isaac Smith while in Pennsylvania, spent the summer of 1859 in a bedroom in a Chambersburg home. By the time Brown arrived in Chambersburg, he was already a prominent abolitionist, thus the need to use an alias. Brown spent the summer meeting with other abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass. In addition, he gathered tools and weapons he would then take with him when he lead the Harpers Ferry Raid in West Virginia. Unfortunately, the raid at Harpers Ferry failed.
4. Oakdale – Chadds Ford, PA
Slaves fleeing from the south often made their first stop heading north at Oakdale in Chadds Ford. Well-known abolitionists Isaac and Dinah Mendenhall built Oakdale in 1840. Oakdale was along the Underground Railroad's Delaware Line. The home offered a unique feature: a hidden room for the fugitive slaves. Today, Oakdale is privately owned and is not available for tours or for visitors.
5. William Goodridge House and Museum – 123 East Philadelphia Street, York, PA 17401
William Goodridge, born into slavery in Maryland, eventually rose to prominence as an esteemed and wealthy Pennsylvania businessman. He started working with the Underground Railroad in the early 1840s. Most people know Goodridge for having assisted the survivors of the Christiana Riot in Lancaster County, in 1851. He helped in their escape on the first part of their travels to Canada. In fact, Goodridge hid the fugitive slaves in one of the freight cars of his railcar Reliance Line.
6. Hovenden House, Barn and Abolition Hall – Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
Hoveden House, Barn, and Abolition Hall played an important role during the Underground Railroad. For example, abolitionists met at the Abolition Hall to plan their strategies in helping escaped slaves. The entire property became an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Unfortunately, in 2017, the property was added to The Pennsylvania At Risk List. (Developers want to replace it with townhouses.)
7. F. Julius LeMoyne House – 49 East Maiden Street, Washington, PA 15301
The F. Julius LeMoyne House in Southwestern Pennsylvania pays homage to the work of LeMoyne and his family. The LeMoyne family were highly involved with the Underground Railroad. In fact, upon his death, LeMoyne left behind letters from former slaves who the family had helped flee the South.
Are you fascinated by Pennsylvania’s history? Have you ever been to any of these incredible places around Pennsylvania that were once part of the underground railroad? Share below! Then,
click here to read about the deadly history of Austin Dam Park.