Origins of the Underground Railroad


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Tour historic places that gave rise to the Underground Railroad movement in Lancaster County and Southeastern Pennsylvania

Customized tours and presentations offered by Randolph Harris of Lancaster, PA, a consulting historian, heritage conservation advocate, journalist and Partner, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, a program of the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

During these journeys, heritage travelers will examine the impact of anti-slavery activities and the rise of Abolitionism in the Southeastern Pennsylvania Region along the Mason-Dixon Line, which divided the free Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from the slave-holding states to the south.

Visitors will gain deep insight into this vibrant historic landscape and learn how ideal conditions came together to create a key location in the development of the nation’s first religiously-inspired and racially-integrated civil rights movement.

We will explore the key factors that supported this movement: the region’s unique geography; the legacy of religious freedom in the Commonwealth and as the center of progressive politics in Colonial America; and ingenious transportation systems built and managed by black and white inventors and entrepreneurs that allowed the fastest and most secret flights to freedom anywhere in the country during the late 18th and early 19th century.

Some of the sites and communities to be experienced can include the Borough Columbia on the Susquehanna River, the historic City of Lancaster, Villages of Bird-in-Hand, Georgetown and Christiana, where many believe a key spark was lit that brought on the Civil War. Others can be explored as well.

Among the stops are historic properties recognized by the National Park Service as authentic sites associated with the Underground Railroad, based on research and documentation supplied by Mr. Harris. At these sites some of the earliest and most nationally significant episodes of resistance occurred against the institution of slavery.

Tours can be on foot, as well as step-on services in motor coaches or private vehicles. Call to arrange a tour or visit the website for more information.