Take a trip along the Underground Railroad Heritage Trail—Upstate New York, and experience dramatic stories of the struggle to end slavery.
Freedom Seekers followed many routes through Western New York in the years leading up to the Civil War. Visit the exhibitions and historical sites listed below as you explore Upstate's important role in the fight for freedom.
This cultural tourism promotion is made possible by funding from :
Lloyd E. Klos Historical Fund, administered by the Community Foundation
Download a poster and brochure.
CASTELLANI ART MUSEUM OF NIAGARA UNIVERSITY—
(Regional Underground Railroad Interpretive Center)
PO Box 1938
5795 Lewiston Rd.
Niagara University, NY 14109-1938
Located at the center of the Niagara University campus, the Castellani Art Museum offers a collection of 19th century, modern, and contemporary art accessible to the public with no admission charge. Exhibitions and programming include contemporary art with visiting artists, historic art, traditional folk arts, and collaborative programs with area school districts.
Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara
The Niagara River was often the last crossing for people escaping slavery in America. The exhibition's video, artifacts, and audio stations invite you to hear the stories, learn the history, and appreciate the legacy of Harriet Tubman, William Wells Brown, Thomas Root, and many others who risked their lives for freedom.
THE HISTORY MUSEUM
BUFFALO AND ERIE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY—Erie County
25 Nottingham Court
Buffalo, NY 14216
The History Museum is the major collector and preserver of the artifacts and records of Western New York history. The museum houses the world's largest collection of Pan-American Exposition artifacts, as well as other objects of national significance, among the 80,000-plus items in our care. There is also a Research Library and Archive which maintains manuscript, photographic and rare book collections. Extensive genealogical resources help people find their roots.
LE ROY HISTORICAL SOCIETY—Genesee County
23 East Main Street
LeRoy, NY 14482
The LeRoy Historical Society maintains two 19th-century buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places: The LeRoy House and the Academic Building, first used in 1898 as a high school.
The Academic Building houses the Jell-O Gallery, a permanent exhibit on the gelatin dessert first formulated and marketed in LeRoy.
A well-used Underground Railroad route passed through the LeRoy area, and a recently installed historical marker indicates the route's crossing point on Route 5.
ROCHESTER MUSEUM & SCIENCE CENTER—
(Regional Underground Railroad Interpretive Center)
657 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
Strategically located on major routes north and west to freedom in Canada, Rochester was home to celebrated orator, reformer, and newspaper editor Frederick Douglass for 25 historic years (1847–1872). A leading conductor on Rochester's Underground Railroad, Douglass aided many freedom seekers on their way to Canada and was a powerful voice for abolition and equal rights for all.
His is one of the compelling stories revealed in the Rochester Museum & Science Center's exhibition Flight to Freedom: Rochester's Underground Railroad.
SUSAN B. ANTHONY HOUSE—Monroe County
17 Madison St.
Rochester, NY 14608
The Susan B. Anthony House shares the story of Susan B. Anthony's lifelong struggle to gain voting rights for women and equal rights for all. The organization keeps her vision and struggle alive by owning and protecting Anthony's National Historic Landmark home; collecting artifacts and research materials directly related to her life and work; and making these resources available to the public through tours, publications, the Internet and interpretive programs.
Best known for her tireless campaign for woman suffrage, Susan B. Anthony was also an ardent abolitionist. Tours of her historic home highlight Anthony's anti-slavery activities, including her friendship with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, and her work as an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.
HISTORIC PALMYRA—Wayne County
132 Market Street
P.O. Box 96
Palmyra, NY 14522
Historic Palmyra owns and maintains three museums:
Alling Coverlet Museum, 122 William Street
See the largest collection of colorful hand-woven coverlets in the US, plus a display of handmade quilts, miniature rugs, and spinning equipment.
Wm. Phelps General Store Museum, 140 Market Street
From the bottle of Witch Hazel on the shelf, to the egg carton on the counter, this museum offers a picture-perfect snapshot of a turn-of-the century general store. The building itself dates from 1826 (pre-Civil War). It became the Wm. Phelps General Store in 1868.
Palmyra Historical Museum
The Palmyra Historical Museum is in two parts, presenting history from 1826–1976. The impressive museum building was originally a hotel and tavern, constructed in 1826 and enlarged in 1898. Its display of elegant furniture, toys, dolls, household furnishings and more take you back to an earlier time in this thriving industrial and farming community. The museum also features artifacts related to the Underground Railroad.
Palmyra is located on a main Underground Railroad route north to Pultneyville, and was a logical stop for freedom seekers on their way to Canada. In particular, the Western Presbyterian Church located at 101 E. Main Street was an active Underground Railroad station operated by Rev. Horace Eaton, DD. Fugitives hid in the belfry of the church until they could be transported to the next station on the way to Williamson and Pultneyville. Local Quaker Pliny Sexton, whose house still stands at 322 E. Main St. in Palmyra, worked with Rev. Eaton in the fight against slavery.
The Palmyra Historical Museum has much information about Rev. Horace Eaton, Pliny Sexton and the Underground Railroad, including a book of memoirs written by Rev. Eaton's wife Anna.
PULTNEYVILLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY—Wayne County
4130 Mill St.
PO Box 92
Pultneyville, NY 14538
The Pultneyville Historical Society preserves and shares the history of the Township of Williamson, NY. Located in a landmark dwelling constructed around 1858 for a prominent businessman, the Society houses archive information and presents exhibits focusing on local history.
In the 1800s Pultneyville was a bustling commercial and shipbuilding port on Lake Ontario. Sailing schooners and steamers made regular passages to ports across the lake. When slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833, Pultneyville became a jumping off point for those seeking freedom in Canada. One of the Historical Society's exhibits focuses on the life and career of Captain Horatio Nelson Throop—ship builder, lake captain, and inventor, who transported many Underground Railroad travelers across the lake to freedom.
Sites of interest in the village include:
The Captain Palmer House, 4194 Washington Street
Freedom seekers were hidden in the attic of the rear section of this house before boarding ships at the pier across Washington Street.
The Captain Throop House, 4184 Washington Street
This cobblestone home was built in 1832 by Captain Horatio Nelson Throop who transported freedom seeking passengers to Canada aboard his ships.
B. Forman Park, East Lake Road, Pultneyville
Site of the Samuel and Julia Cuyler Home which is included in the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network To Freedom. Mr. Cuyler was known to transport freedom seekers to the piers in Pultneyville. As a New York State Senator he worked for freedom and liberty for all Americans.
Griffith and Eliza Cooper House, 5825 South Avenue, Williamson
Griffith and Eliza Cooper, Quakers associated with the Farmington Meeting, kept a major Underground Railroad Station linked to stations throughout the area.
WAYNE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY/MUSEUM OF WAYNE COUNTY HISTORY—Wayne County
21 Butternut St.
Lyons, NY 14489
Housed in the former Wayne County Jail and Sheriff's residence (built 1856), the Wayne County Historical Society/Museum of Wayne County History preserves and presents the history of Wayne County through a collection of thousands of artifacts, a reference library of over 1,000 volumes, and an archive that includes maps, photographs, personal documents and business records. The jail (complete with original cells) and residence offer exhibits on the life and people of Wayne County beginning in the 19th century, as well as an Ancient History Room featuring mastodon bones and Native American artifacts.
Lyons, New York was a stop on the Underground Railroad route to Sodus Point, Pultneyville, and on to Canada. Included in the museum's collection is a large framed portrait of Griffith Cooper, a Quaker abolitionist who lived in Williamson. Cooper and his wife Eliza reportedly housed freedom seekers in small spaces under the eaves of their attic. The museum also has hand-drawn plans of the Columbus Croul residence showing a section that was used as an Underground Railroad hiding place.
GENEVA HISTORICAL SOCIETY—Ontario County
543 South Main St.
Geneva, NY 14456
Through its collections, educational programs, historic properties, and collaborations, the Geneva Historical Society preserves and interprets the history and heritage of Geneva, New York and its environs. The collections encompass 30,000 photographic images as well as documents, furniture, decorative art, costumes, textiles, fine art, tools and equipment, and four historic properties: Rose Hill Mansion, Balmanno Cottage, the Johnston House, and a museum of the history of Geneva at the Prouty-Chew House.
Guided tours are available of Rose Hill, a restored 1839 Greek Revival mansion and National Historic Landmark. The property was named for Robert Selden Rose, a Virginian who immigrated to central New York in 1802 with his entire household, including slaves. These enslaved people were the nucleus of Geneva's early African-American community, one of the largest in the western half of the state prior to the building of the Erie Canal. In 1809, Rose erected a simple frame house, which later owners used as a carriage barn and which now serves as a visitor reception center. An exhibit in the visitor center tells the story of the Rose family and the African Americans they brought with them to New York.
SEWARD HOUSE—Cayuga County
A National Historic Landmark
33 South Street
Auburn, NY 13021
Seward House, a designated National Historic Landmark, was the home of William Henry Seward (1801–1872), a celebrated statesman, Secretary of State, United States Senator, New York Governor, and abolitionist. Today, Seward House interprets the life and accomplishments of William and Frances Seward and their immediate descendants. The museum features four generations of original family furnishings, art, and decorative arts.
In each of his political offices, William Seward worked to stop the spread of slavery. As Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State, he advised the President on the wording of the Emancipation Proclamation. Seward and his family socialized with a number of leading abolitionists including Gerrit Smith, Frederick Douglass, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In the 1850s, the Seward family opened their Auburn home as an Underground Railroad safehouse. During this time, William Seward became a patron of Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, encouraging her to settle in Auburn. Today, the Harriet Tubman Home is just two miles down South Street from Seward House and speaks eloquently to the supporting relationship that was forged between the two families.
Underground Railroad history is part of regular tours of Seward House. The House provides educational materials to schools and presents Underground Railroad-themed events to the public.
In 2004, Governor George Pataki recognized Seward House as one of twenty-four sites on the state's Underground Railroad Heritage Trail. In 2005, the museum joined the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program.
THE HARRIET TUBMAN HOME—Cayuga County
180 South Street
Auburn, NY 13201
The Harriet Tubman Home preserves the legacy of "The Moses of Her People" in the place where she lived and died in freedom. The site is located on 26 acres of land in Auburn, New York, and is owned and operated by the AME Zion Church. It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman.
ONONDAGA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION MUSEUM & RESEARCH CENTER—Onondaga County
(Regional Underground Railroad Interpretive Center)
321 Montgomery St.
Syracuse, NY 13202
The OHA Museum offers inspiring experiences with regional history through encounters with authentic objects, documents, stories, and ideas from the past. The museum presents engaging exhibits and programs covering areas of regional interest including the Underground Railroad, the Franklin automobile, Syracuse China, local brewery history, and various changing exhibitions.
Freedom Bound: Syracuse & the Underground Railroad
Central New York was a hub of dramatic anti-slavery activity in the days of the Underground Railroad as many freedom seekers passed through on their way to Canada. This immersive, multi-media exhibition explores this turbulent period through the true story of a group of fugitives who sought safety in Syracuse, and of the local citizens who supported or opposed them. Life-size cutouts, special visual effects, and audio dialogue bring the gallery to life with the images, voices, and music of the period.
MATILDA JOSLYN GAGE HOME—Onondaga County
210 East Genesee Street
PO Box 192
Fayetteville, NY 13066
Suffrage leader and abolitionist Matilda Joslyn Gage boldly signed a petition declaring her intention to defy the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. She publicly offered her home as an Underground Railroad safe house.
The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center is rehabilitating the Gage Home, which was the site of regular anti-slavery activity and a station on the Underground Railroad. The Center is dedicated to educating current and future generations about Gage's work and its power to drive contemporary social change.
NATIONAL ABOLITION HALL OF FAME—Madison County
5255 Pleasant Valley Road
Peterboro, NY 13134-0055
On October 19, 2004 the Smithfield Community Association assembled a committee to develop an Abolition Hall of Fame in honor of the inaugural meeting of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society. That historic meeting was held on October 22, 1835 in the building that is now the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro, New York.
The National Abolition Hall of Fame announced its first honorees March 5, 2005:
On January 31, 2007, on the anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, NAHOF announced its second set of honorees:
The Hall of Fame annual conference on abolition is held on the weekend closest to October 22.
The National Abolition Museum & Hall of Fame will be installed in the Smithfield Community Center , which is a site on the Heritage NY Statewide Underground Railroad Trail.
Peterboro is also the home of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, a designated site on the National Park Service Underground Railroad Trail—the Network to Freedom.
Rochester/Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission
For Information about Regional Attractions and Amenities:
New York State Tourism
Syracuse NY Tourism
Auburn NY Tourism
Geneva Chamber of Commerce
Finger Lakes Visitors Connection
Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance
Cayuga County NY Tourism
Wayne County NY Tourism
Palmyra NY Tourism
Rochester NY Tourism
Genesee County NY Tourism
Buffalo NY Tourism
Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitor Bureau
Niagara Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau
Niagara County NY Tourism