Experiences In The D | The Blog for Visit Detroit
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3 Ways to Experience Detroit’s Underground Railroad
Detroit’s Underground Railroad — codenamed Midnight — was the last stop on a long journey for many fugitive slaves looking to cross the river to Canada — and their freedom.
Many hid in the city’s churches by day or until they could arrange to safely cross the border. The First Congregational Church of Detroit and Second Baptist Church of Detroit, for example, provided food, clothing and shelter for refugees en route to boats at the foot of Wayne Street.
You can retrace their steps with visits to these and other historical Underground Railroad landmarks throughout the city by bus, by bike or on foot.
Learn what the Underground Railroad was like on both sides of the river with the Michigan Millennium Metro Tours Underground Railroad Tour. It offers a guided look inside Second Baptist Church and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The tour continues across the border with a visit to Windsor’s Sandwich First Baptist Church, the first Canadian stop on the Underground Railroad, and the North American Black Historical Museum, which houses Underground Railroad artifacts.
Enjoy the sites — and some exercise — with the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. This self-guided, two-wheeled tour utilizes the bike lanes along West Vernor and Michigan Avenue and pedals you past notable landmarks like Finney Barn and Elmwood Cemetery, the final resting place for many abolitionist movement supporters, including William Lambert, who managed the Detroit terminal of the Underground Railroad.
Experience the Underground Railroad as those who travelled it did — by cover of night — with the Detroit Underground Railroad Lantern Walking/People Mover Tour. Follow a lantern-carrying guide who shares stories of those who escaped to freedom while you visit documented hiding places, the spot Frederick Douglas and John Brown met to discuss methods of freeing slaves and where the race riot of 1863 erupted.
What is your favorite Detroit historic landmark?
Lori Bremerkamp is a metro Detroit-based wordsmith, MSU alum and beer snob. When she’s not covering things in and around The D, you can find her trying to wrangle her two kids or her addiction to caffeine — usually at the same time.