Retracing the Underground Railroad
experience is being studied
(June 2005) A group of students, historians
and educators got a sneak preview May 21 of what could become a regular
heritage tourism event to promote and interpret the Underground Railroad
history of the region.
The Rivers Institute at Hanover College sponsored a day-long
educational crossing of the Ohio River on a customized barge
sent up from Jeffersonville, Ind. The barge, owned by American Commercial
Barge Line, was retrofitted with carpet, new paint, and wooden benches
surrounded by hand rails to ensure the safety of the passengers, said
Chris Primm of ACBL. The barge was powered by the 3,800-horsepower James
Nivin towboat, whose normal task is to push 15-16 loaded barges between
Louisville and Pittsburgh.
Following the program at Preston Plantation, the group
boarded the barge and traveled upriver to Hanover Beach. From there,
they traveled to Hanover College where they had lunch. In the afternoon,
they visited St. Stephens A.M.E. Church in Hanover, where Sue
Livers explained its history. The group then traveled 13 miles to Lancaster
in northern Jefferson County to visit Historic Eleutherian College,
where president Jae Breitweiser spoke about the colleges history
while portraying Lucy Nelson, a period figure.
This invitation-only event was centered on the historical
significance of the slaves who escaped to freedom along the secret routes
along the Ohio River. Madison and Hanover played key roles in those
missions in the 1860s. The program was videotaped and will be studied
for refinement by Rivers Institute staff and others via focus groups
through the expertise of their individual organizations, said Michelle
Purvis, program coordinator for the Rivers Institute.
Learn more on the Rivers Institute and its programs at: www.riversinstitute.org.