Just outside of Gettysburg National Battlefields in Pennsylvania, are historic sites that served as stations for the “Underground Railroad.” The “Underground Railroad” is a part of our nation’s history that is still shrouded in mystery. The mythical “underground railroad” was a series of safe houses that sheltered slaves who were running from their southern homes, northward, to freedom.
Just on the other side of the Mason Dixon line from Maryland, is Adams County, Pennsylvania, which was at one time a Quaker stronghold and a place where the Underground Railroad was active. William and Phebe Wright were two Quakers in the area who figured prominently in the Underground Railroad activities. They worked closely with sympathetic people in and near the town of Biglersville to help slaves find their way to freedom.
Student travel groups interested in exploring black history, the Civil War period, and the way in which in slavery has affected the fabric of the United States, will benefit from the Underground Railroad Tour of Adams County near Gettysburg. This tour works well with a student group travel tour of Washington D.C., Philadelphia, or New York City, because Gettysburg is just a two to three hour bus ride from these student travel destinations.
Here are some of the highlights of the Underground Railroad Tour:
Yellow Hill (church and cemetery)
Yellow Hill was a central location for the Underground Railroad. Nearby resident Basil Biggs guided many fugitive slaves there. At Yellow Hill, slaves were given refuge until other residents and Quakers in the town hid and cared for them, protecting them from harm. Yellow Hill Church was burned at one time as a racist act. The Yellow Hill Cemetery contains the remains of many who lost their lives due to the tense circumstances of their time.
Quaker Meetinghouse (1880s)
The Quaker faith proclaims an aversion to violence and a peaceful resistance to oppression. The Quaker Meetinghouse in Adams County served as a place to publicly voice opinion about the Abolitionist movement, and to organize effective acts against it. Throughout U.S. history Quakers have always been conscientious objectors to war. Student travel groups will learn about the Quaker perspective on Civil Rights and violence while touring the Underground Railroad and how their viewpoint directly impacted the Abolitionist movement.
U.S. Colored Troops
Adams County was a central location between North and South, and Yellow Hill Cemetery is a historic site where many mysteries of that era are buried. Many students are unaware that U.S. Colored Troops who served in the Civil War are buried at Yellow Hill as well. This site serves as a reminder to student group travelers that there were indeed many casualties of racism in the United States and they date to the earliest periods in this country’s history.
The Mathews, an African American family who lived near Yellow Hill during the Civil War era, were destined to be involved in the secretive Underground Railroad. Student tour groups will listen to stories about many of the local families, including the Mathews, who helped over 1,000 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad in this area of Pennsylvania.
The Underground Railroad Tour of Adams County is perhaps one of the best active learning tools available to teach students about Black History. In addition to reading about the Underground Railroad, students may visit the historic sites and learn the stories about real people who helped operate the Underground Railroad. This adds a tangible element to learning about African American history and instills in students a real sense of the diversity inherent in our nation’s beginnings.
To request a quote combining the Underground Railroad Tour of Adams County with a student travel tour of Washington D.C., Philadelphia, or New York City, visit Request a Quote and fill out the form for group travel.