Sharing its southern border with two slave states, Ohio was a key player in the operations of the Underground Railroad in the years leading up to the Civil War. Many different routes runaway slaves followed crisscrossed the state with several ultimately passing through Cleveland, or "Station Hope" as it was codenamed, a city that teemed with abolitionists and Underground Railroad conductors. Once in Cleveland runaways were sometimes guided eastward to Buffalo and onward to Canada or west towards Sandusky and into Canada by that route but steamers docking in the city's harbor often ferried the fugitives across Lake Erie to freedom.
This tour presents some of the events, people, and places in Cleveland that connect with the abolitionist sentiment and Underground Railroad presence that existed in the city. From the abolitionist community that resided in what is now known as University Circle to harrowing reports of runaways hiding in St. John's Episcopal Church's bell tower through the dramatic sequence of events surrounding the arrest of Lucy Bagby, Cleveland played a prominent role in the drive toward national emancipation of its enslaved population.