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Underground Railroad Tour Map

1. Michigan Baptist Church
2. Broderick Park
3. Dollhouse Museum (Bertie Hall)
4. Negro Burial Grounds
5. Lewiston First Presbyterian Church
6. Freedom Crossing

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Underground Railroad Tour


The paths of freedom were the tracks of the Underground Railroad and many led to the Buffalo Niagara area as African-American slaves sought the best routes to Canada.

Begin your tour of the Underground Railroad at the Buffalo Niagara Visitor Center at the Market Arcade (617 Main Street, Buffalo). From the Arcade's rear entrance on Washington Street, proceed four blocks to Clinton Street. Go left to Michigan. Turn left and look for the Michigan Street Baptist Church, 511 Michigan Avenue in downtown Buffalo. A station on the Underground Railroad, it is the oldest property continuously owned, operated, and occupied by African-Americans in Western New York. Head north on Michigan turning left on Goodell Street, right on Delaware Avenue (Route 384) to West Ferry Street. Turn left on W. Ferry Street and continue to its end at Broderick Park on the Niagara River.

Fugitive slaves crossed the river to Canada from here before there was a bridge. From Broderick Park take Niagara Street south to the Peace Bridge and cross into Canada.

After clearing Customs (be sure to bring birth certificates or passports), turn right onto Goderich Street and go two blocks to Queen Street, turn right and proceed three blocks to the Niagara Parkway, one of the world's great drives. Take a left on the Parkway. A few miles to the north is the Dollhouse Museum (formerly Bertie Hall) which was known as a safe house and where smuggling operations were rumored to have taken place as well.

Continue north on Niagara Parkway to Niagara-on-the-Lake where you'll find the Negro Burial Ground which is all that remains of the Calvinistic Baptist Church. At its opening in 1831 the congregation was all white, but from 1849-1853 became all black. (An optional leg to the tour includes taking Route 55 from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the QEW to St. Catharines for a visit to the "Follow the North Star" exhibit at the St. Catharines Museum at the Welland Canal Centre.)

Return south on the Niagara Parkway to the Queenston/Lewiston Bridge and cross back into New York. From the bridge, follow signs to the village of Lewiston to visit the Lewiston First Presbyterian Church. Its pastor, Rev. Josiah Tryon, was rumored to have sheltered many slaves in a place called "Tryon's Folly" which was built atop the Niagara Gorge with four descending cellars leading toward the Niagara River which provided an excellent hiding place and escape route for the slaves' late-night crossing into Canada.

Leaving Lewiston, follow Robert Moses Parkway south to the Whirlpool Bridge exit in Niagara Falls. The first connection between the U.S. and Canada across the lower Niagara gorge, the Whirlpool Bridge was known as the "Freedom Crossing" and was used in 1849 by Harriet Tubman en route from slavery in Bucktown, Maryland to her first home in St. Catharines, Ontario. It was modified for train traffic in 1855 and became a major route for escaping slaves in cattle or baggage cars aboard the 4 a.m. Northern Central Railroad line.

From the bridge, take Whirlpool Street south to Rainbow Boulevard which will connect with Robert Moses Parkway.
Next, follow the Robert Moses Parkway south to the last stop at Niagara University. Exit and turn left at Power Vista Dr and turn right onto Senior Dr, following signs for the Castellani Museum.  The museum features 20th century and contemporary art from Andy Warhol to Pablo Picasso and is also home to the interpretive center “Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara.”   Freedom Crossing tells the story of the Underground Railroad Movement in Buffalo Niagara—and of the people who risked their lives, all in the name of freedom.

After your visit to the Castellani Art Museum, continue south on Robert Moses Parkway to I-190 south to return to Buffalo.

For additional information:
Motherland Connextions

Proper documentation is required to cross the Canadian/US border.

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