Underground Railroad

Aside from getting my glasses repaired, one of yesterday’s highlights was staying at the Pine Grove Furnace Iron Master’s Hostel. The mostly restored 1820’s house is huge even by today’s standards. The Iron Master was one of the original one percent.

Whatever else be was or did, his house was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The basement actually has three chambers. The normal one is walled off in such a way that you wouldn’t suspect there was more to it.

The entrance to the secret chambers is through a closet floor. The low ceiling suggests a WWII Stalag 17 escape tunnel. The second chamber is entered through a small square opening I tried to capture with my iPhone camera.

One can only imagine the hope, fear, and resolve that passed through those rooms.

What ever else be was, the Iron Master did the right thing.

The iron works lasted until 1894 when it Bessemer process rendered it uneconomical to operate.

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4 thoughts on “Underground Railroad

  1. The title of your post startled me. I’ve done extensive study recently about the purported use of quilts to help slaves escape, a so-called Underground Railroad quilt code. I’ve been prepping a post on it, and I was SURE I didn’t accidentally publish it! (spoiler alert, there is NO evidence of a quilt code that helped slaves escape.) In my reading, I’ve seen that perhaps most locations that claim use in the UGRR have no proof of that, either. I’ll take your word for it that the Iron Master’s mansion does.

    You may have imagined before now, or if not, can imagine now, what slaves from S and No Carolina went through. Though they would not have crossed the mountains but traveled up the coast, the length of journey would be quite similar to yours.

    One more note, while I’m talking… in 1860 the census counted nearly 4 million slaves at that moment in time. Best estimates of successful escapes puts the number at fewer that 100,000 across all years of African slavery on this continent. It was a daunting task, certainly.

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