Niagara Gazette


February 12, 2013

BRADBERRY: Underground Railroad sites dot city, region


Niagara Gazette — Built of local limestone, the three-story Colt Block has anchored the north end of Main Street since its construction in 1855.

Lewiston Landing

Seven miles north of Niagara Falls, the village of Lewiston stands at the intersection of the Niagara Escarpment and the Niagara River.

Historically, this was the landing place that Seneca Indians guarded as the western door of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. A pre-Iroquoian ancient burial mound still stands near the carrying trail, now part of the Lewiston Artpark.

Many freedom seekers used the ferry at Lewiston or the Lewiston Suspension Bridge (from its construction in 1851 to its destruction in 1864) to cross into freedom in Ontario. Steamboats also stopped here six days a week, making a regular circuit of both U.S. and Canadian ports on Lake Ontario. U.S. captains such as Horatio Nelson Throop (master of the Rochester and the Ontario) and Canadian captains such as Hugh Richardson (master of the Chief Justice William Robinson) willingly picked up people escaping from slavery at the Lewiston landing and took them to Toronto and Kingston.

Today, the area near the historic landing and suspension bridge is marked by a bronze, larger than-life statue, designed by sculptor Susan Geissler and erected in 2009 to commemorate Margaret Goff Clark’s Freedom Crossing (1969).

Site of the Ferry Landing at Youngstown, Youngstown

Near the junction of Niagara River with Lake Ontario, the ferry across the Niagara River at Youngstown was an important crossing point for freedom seekers, particularly before completion of the Suspension Bridges at Niagara Falls in 1848 and Lewiston in 1851.

It remained an alternative even when these other crossing points were patrolled by slave catchers. There are several references to freedom seekers who escaped to Canada across the Youngstown Ferry. The earliest was Thomas James, who escaped from slavery near Canajoharie and Fort Plain, New York, in June 1821.

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