Underground Railroad history tour at Beaubien Woods scheduled for November 20

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On a November 2018 Freedom Trail tour, Dr. Larry McClellan points to a significant spot along the Little Calumet River. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Information provided by the Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project

LANSING, Ill. (November 10, 2021) – The Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project is “Hiking the Freedom Trail” at the Beaubien Woods on November 20 at 1 p.m. The project is inviting the public to join in the fascinating story of the hundreds — perhaps thousands — of escaped slaves and “Freedom Seekers” that came through the Calumet region prior to the Civil War. Many of these sojourners often found refuge and replenishment from local abolitionists, one being the Jan Ton family who owned a farm near Beaubien Woods Forest Preserve on the Little Calumet River.

The focus of the hike is educating participants about the Underground Railroad history in the Calumet region.

Professor Larry McClellan, an authority on the Underground Railroad in Northern Illinois, and Tom Shepherd of the Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project will be narrators for this hike and tour.

The narrated tour and hike will depart from the Beaubien Woods boat launch and will last roughly 2 hours. The tour will be partially done by bus — please observe the requirement to wear a mask while on the bus — with a limited amount of walking as we talk, so weather-appropriate clothing is recommended.

Registration is required for this free event and seating is limited. Call Tom Shepherd at 773-370-3305 for reservations or email [email protected].

The Beaubien Woods boat launch is located near the intersection of E 132nd Street and S Doty Avenue in Riverdale.

1 COMMENT

  1. I wish I could be there for this event. I would love to know to know more details about the Underground Railroad. I’m not sure I have my facts right, but what I do know so far is that before the Underground Railroad, there were runaway slaves. One of those runaway slaves was Harriet Tubman, who managed to escape with a few of her siblings, but she later came back to rescue more siblings and other slaves who wanted to be free. Because of the Quakers and other Abolitionist groups, the runaway slaves had allies all the way up to Canada, and some were successful in becoming free. I had no idea until recently that the Calumet Region had anything to do with those Underground Railroad stations. One thing I do know is that slave owners and their supporting organizations set up KKK groups near those Underground Railroad stations, and the last one going north that I knew of was near or in Muncie, Indiana. I have also been tolf that there was an Underground Railroad station near Morgan Park in Chicago That sums up about all I know concerningt the Underground Railroad. About the only other thing I do know is that Colson Whitehead’s ridiculous book is pure fiction and not a very good read. the Underground Railroad he identified he described in his book would have the 8th Wonder of the World, as it contained real underground trains that took off from underground stations yet were never found by the slavers and their supporters. Oh. And there is one more amazing thing I know about the Underground Railroad: Harriet Tubman suffered from narcolepsy, and at various times during the night or in the day — she would have control over when it happened — she would fall asleep. Imagine how frightening that would be to runaway slaves when that happened!

    As I said, I would love to be there to learn about the Underground Railroad in northern Illinois, but it is 2,000 mile trek from here in Las Vegas to the shores of the Little Calumet River.

    Frank Fetters

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