UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TOUR
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY.
ABOUT THE TOUR
OUR UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TOUR WAS CONCEIVED, RESEARCHED, DESIGNED, AND ENACTED BY PAHMUSA.
Visitors can join local docents, reenactment actors, and historians for an engaging and enlightening stroll through the downtown area of Springfield, MA. You will never look at Springfield similarly after participating in this tour. Visit historical markers and meet people that salute the perseverance, ingenuity, and resilience of some of Springfield’s unsung early residents. The Underground Railroad was comprised of many people and places. Springfield was an essential destination for freedom seekers and activistactivists like Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, and John Brown. Tour begins at the Museums and ends at Riverfront Park.
On the third Saturday of every month, you have a chance to learn about the significant role Springfield, and its residents played in helping move Africans from slavery to freedom. Thanks to the Pan African Historical Museum (PAHMUSA), the Underground Railroad tour is available, free, and open to the public.
This fascinating guided tour begins at the museum located in Tower Square on the second floor. Here you’ll discover letters, photographs, maps, and artifacts that help set the stage for what you’re about to experience. Sam Bradley, PAHMUSA Executive Director and a host of docents, reinactment actors, and story tellers serve as tour guides on the two-hour walk along several city blocks.
At critical moments along the way, costumed actors help advance the story of the difficult and dangerous journey thousands of enslaved people took in search of freedom. They provide helpful insight into how the Underground Railroad managed to operate in plain view. Naturally, coded communication was critical. You’ll learn how couriers describe incoming passengers and their ultimate destinations.
The stretch of downtown from Main Street between Howard and Union Streets to the old Railroad Bridge at Gridiron Street is filled with points of importance to the Underground Railroad. Though only a few mid-1800s buildings still stand, locations relevant to this rich chapter in Springfield’s history are documented on a map created by Springfield Technical Community College. For example, the office of Dr. George White, which was, in part, a changing station for runaway Africans, is now the site of the MassMutual Center.
Old First Church, though it did not serve as one of the secret hiding places, contributed to the Underground Railroad through its minister, Reverend Osgood. He served as a conductor in the freedom movement.
Tour guides tell the story of an enslaver who came to Springfield to reclaim his property, a woman named Jenny Cumfrey Williams. Rev. Howard, also of Old First Church, negotiated a price for the woman and raised $100 to buy her freedom. The receipt with all of the names of those who contributed is on display at the museum.
Complementing the work of PAHMUSA is a book entitled "The Struggle for Freedom. " This book addresses the history of African-Americans in western Massachusetts. "The Struggle for Freedom" is available for purchase now from Pedimentbooks.com and is part of the Republican Heritage Series.