Let’s Take This Conversation Underground
17 Towns all over Connecticut
These 29 sites, scattered all over the state, comprise an important part of the greater Connecticut Freedom Trail. This trail (along with the Amistad and Freedom Trails) were updated and expanded in early 2011. So at one point I was “finished” with the URR Trail, but now suddenly I’m not! Such is my life. Here’s the official list of URR sites..
Slavery existed in America from the earliest period of colonial settlement at the beginning of the seventeenth century until it was abolished in 1865 by passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. While some slaves became free through legal means, many who wanted freedom chose to escape from their owners and find a safe location. This system began during America’s colonial period and led to laws that penalized persons who assisted runaway slaves. In 1793 the United States government passed its Fugitive Slave Act that allowed for the capture and return to slavery of any runaway slave living in a free state. As it developed over the years, the Underground Railroad, which was neither under the ground nor a railroad, provided a series of safe havens, or stations, for fugitive slaves who were making their way to the Northern states, Canada, or other locations.
The North Star was a guide for runaway slaves leaving the South, but once in the Underground Railroad system the participants were conducted by foot, wagon, horse, or boat to a private house, barn, or church where they would be hidden until it was possible to send them to the next northward-bound location. This operation required the cooperation of free African Americans, Native Americans, and whites. It also required secrecy since free participants could be charged with breaking the law in helping slaves escape their owners. This secrecy has made it difficult to document fully what buildings in Connecticut were used in the Underground Railroad, and often this information has survived only in oral tradition.
Fugitive slaves entered Connecticut at a number of points. Some passed through the state by way of Stamford, New Haven, or Old Lyme, often traveling on to Farmington, the “Grand Central Station” in Connecticut. From there they headed north to Westfield or Springfield, Massachusetts. Some traveled to Springfield by way of Middletown, Hartford, and other communities along the Connecticut River. Those who passed through the state by way of New London or Westerly, Rhode Island, went north to Norwich and Putnam, and then to Worcester, Massachusetts. A western Connecticut route included Waterbury, New Milford, Washington, Torrington, Winchester, and Winsted.
Some of the buildings listed below cannot be documented with precision. However, their inclusion on the Freedom Trail is based on written histories, studies, and traditions.
Most of the buildings listed here for the Underground Railroad are privately owned and are not open to the public – making my goal to photograph each a little more exciting. I will present them as I “visit” them, more or less.
Connecticut Underground Railroad Trail:
Links take you to my visits
Underground Railroad Trail
CTMQ’s Freedom Trail Page
Rob Forbes saysNovember 29, 2008 at 3:41 pm
Great stuff, Steve. Keep on truckin’!
debbie (guidone) stein saysMarch 6, 2011 at 5:06 am
I am interested in learning more about a home my grandparents, Thomas and Winifred Guidone, owned in East Haven (125 Southend Road). As children we knew this house was built in the 1850’s and had hidden passges behind the closet doors. One such passage way was rumored to be located behind the fire place off the kitchen and lead to the basement and perhaps to the beach.It was a three story home. Unfortunately it has since burned to the ground some years after my grandparents passing. My grandfather was a well known muralist and many of his religious murals can be seen today (St. Bernadettes). If you could help get some information or pictures of this home I would appreciate it. I am 4th grade teacher and would like to share this informatio with my students.
Barat saysSeptember 21, 2011 at 11:00 am
This is wonderful information. I am a teacher and am looking for information about underground railroad sites in western Ct specifically Washington and New Preston. Do you have any information on these towns? I appreciate any and all help you can give. Thanks.
Patricia Fargnoli saysDecember 17, 2011 at 8:42 am
any information about underground railroad houses in Windsor, CT. I grew up in a house built in 1757 by a Capt. Benjamin Allen on Deerfield Rd (it’s been torn down). It was near the railroad tracks and the CT River. And had a dirt cellar floor (and no furnace). We never went down there and I’ve often wondered whether there might have been some tunnel there…or whether it could have harbored runaway slaves.
rita summers-page saysJanuary 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm
I need a guest speaker for a program my church is having Sunday February 26 3:00p.m. can you please get in touch with me THIS IS GREAT STUFF!!!! OMG it woukd be sooo awesome if you could make it th etopic is the CT Undergroung railroad. in the event you can’t make it any assistance you can offer in leading me to a speaker would be great Thank you have a great day I truly enjoyed this thanks very informative
murrell gionfriddo saysNovember 14, 2013 at 9:12 am
there are homes for the underground railroad in the town I live in. I would like to get more information on what is available in northeast ct.
murrell gionfriddo saysNovember 14, 2013 at 9:13 am
there are homes in Coventry that were part of the underground railroad that would be great to include in your report.
Steve saysNovember 14, 2013 at 9:42 am
I have nothing to do with the trail and sites themselves. I just drive by them and try to write something mildly interesting about them. There are people you can contact through the link in the first paragraph.
DEC saysMay 9, 2015 at 1:07 am
I’ve herd from people I work with that there’s a house In Plainfield ct. On route 12 near the shell station that was part of the underground rail road .from what thay say,there’s tunnels and passages under the house
Jay saysApril 20, 2016 at 5:56 pm
Follow me on Facebook at Jay Tor or I.G under True_to_myself I live in the New London area and want to see these places but inside IDC what it takes hmu asap
Ken Bourt saysApril 19, 2018 at 10:06 pm
My great grandparents live on Salem st new haven ct the story that there were slave tunnel in that area. Look for maps
HOPE KILLEN saysAugust 23, 2018 at 5:51 am
Do you have any information on the Marsh family travelling thru Canaan, perhaps thru Norfolk onto to Hartford and Springfield?