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The National Park Service preserves and protects powerful places - the physical memory of our nation's history. Locations related to the Underground Railroad are part of the Network to Freedom program. The locations in this program include National Park units, as well as locations with a verifiable connection to the Underground Railroad. Visiting these places - virtually or in-person - allows you to form your own connections to the story of the Underground Railroad in America.
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Stop 1
African-American Quilt Museum
2001 Suite 206 Haskell Ave. Lawrence, KS
Meet the world renowned visual narrative artist and quilter Marla A. Jackson, in her art studio and teaching gallery. Marla is a community-based visual art educator. Her works have been exhibited in over thirty-five national and international venues, including the American Folk Art Museum, The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. One of her most famous works, is part of the permanent collection, at Smithsonian's Anacostia Community.
Her narrative quilts are inspired by the oral histories of her ancestors and the Kansas region. Her work has been featured in the Kansas History Society Quarterly, Threads of Faith, MS Magazine, Speaking Out of Turn Magazine, PBS programs, local and regional syndicated press, as well as exhibit catalogs. Marla's company, Marla Quilt's Inc. African American Museum and Textile Academy is an impetus for developing artistic skills, enhancing individual and communal expression and furthering intellectual awareness.
Marla donates art supplies and her expertise to Liberty Memorial Central Junior High School, in Lawrence Kansas.
​Make an appointment to meet Marla, and view her recent works now on display at her African American Museum and Textile Academy, part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
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Stop 2
Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site
4837 NW County Road 1002, Butler, MO
Visit the site of the first engagement of African American troops during the Civil War. Take a short walk on the trail and learn about the regiment that made U.S. history.
The Battle of Island Mound marked the first time that African-American troops were engaged in Civil War combat, nearly a year before the battle depicted in the film Glory. Battle of Island Mound State Historic site encompasses Fort Africa, where the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry were camped in 1862 before a pitched battle with pro-Confederate forces near a low hill named Island Mound.
Walk the interpretive trail loop and learn about this battle as well as the effect that the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry has on later Union decisions to allow African-American units to fight. A memorial monument and interpretive kiosk explain the battle and a .6 mile long trail includes interpretive panels; there is also a picnic shelter, picnic pads, vault toilets, water faucets and taps.
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Stop 3
Constitution Hall
429 S Kansas Ave #427, Topeka, KS
Here in Topeka in 1855, delegates elected from across Kansas Territory banned slavery in the Topeka Constitution for Kansas statehood. This opposed the pro slavery, federally appointed Territorial government in nearby Lecompton. Visit both sites and the Kansas Statehouse.
On the National Register of Historic Places for "well-documented and highly important events of national significance that focused the nationwide attention of slavery proponents and abolitionists on the issue of Kansas sovereignty and territorial law. The issue became one of the nation's leading and most widely debated political crises in the years prior to the Civil War, and this property alone represents the important events related to the free state movement and the drafting of the first antislavery constitution took place in Topeka between 1855-1860." Constitution Hall became part of the first Kansas Statehouse in 1864. In 1869, state government moved to the East Wing of the present Statehouse on Capitol Square at 8th and Van Buren. Since 2001, Constitution Hall-Topeka is a partner site of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, National Park Service.
Constitution Hall is undergoing phased restoration for use in heritage tourism about the Kansas Free State movement, the Jim Lane Trail, the July 4, 1856 Dispersal of the Free State Legislature and early Kansas statehood. The west and south walls were restored in 2012. Facade restoration is in planning.
The Downtown Topeka Rotary Club built its pocket park "Crossroads to Freedom" in the outdoor green space adjoining Constitution Hall. Here, interpretive signage explores Topeka's nationally important freedom events, including the 1951 Brown v. Board of Education federal trial held in the Old Federal Building across Kansas Avenue. This trial preceded the 1954 landmark Supreme Court ruling.
The Free State Topeka Constitution declared "There shall be no Slavery in this State." This narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Pro slavery leaders prevented passage in the Senate.
Proclamations by President Franklin Pierce attempted to prevent Kansas settlers from assembling the Topeka Free State legislature. This led to the Dispersal of the Topeka Legislature on July 4, 1856. On this date Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner, U.S. Army, marched 400 troops to Constitution Hall and with cannon fuses lit, prevented the first meeting of the Free State legislature.
Constitution Hall was the southern terminus and base of operations for the Jim Lane Trail, a critical free trade and escape route to freedom in the North.
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Stop 4
Fort Scott National Historic Site
1 Old Fort Blvd. Fort Scott, KS
Explore this restored frontier fort and its role in westward expansion, Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War.
Promises made and broken! A town attacked at dawn! Thousands made homeless by war! Soldiers fighting settlers! Each of these stories is a link in the chain of events that encircled Fort Scott from 1842-1873. All of the site's structures, its parade ground, and its tallgrass prairie bear witness to this era when the country was forged from a young republic into a united transcontinental nation.
The story of Fort Scott is the story of America growing up. When the fort was established in 1842, the nation was still young and confined largely to the area east of the Mississippi River. Yet within a few years, Fort Scott's soldiers became involved in events that would lead to tremendous spurts of growth and expansion. As the nation developed, tensions over slavery led to the conflict and turmoil of "Bleeding Kansas" and the Civil War. Fort Scott takes you through these years of crisis and beyond to the time when the United States emerged as a united, transcontinental nation.
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Stop 5
Grover Barn
2819 Stone Barn Terrace, Lawrence, KS
The Grovers
Joel Grover was born in 1825 in New York. He came to Kansas Territory in September 1854 in the 2nd party of emigrants from the New England Emigrant Aid Company. He claimed a 160-acre homestead, which he named Prairie Home, located about three miles southwest of Lawrence, in Wakarusa Township, Douglas County, Kansas Territory.
In 1855, Emily Jane Hunt, daughter of George W. Hunt, an anti-slavery pioneer, arrived in Kansas Territory. She had been born in 1839 in Massachusetts. She had come to the Kansas Territory in the company of Charles and Sara Robinson. Emily became active in the Free State cause.
Through their Free State activities, Joel and Emily met, and on October 13, 1857, they married. They took up residence on Joe’s claim southwest of Lawrence. Both Joel and Emily were staunch abolitionists, and they went to work in the Underground Railroad network that formed in the territory, using their farm as a station.
The Freedom Seekers, John Brown, and Their Journey
On December 19, 1858, Jim Daniels, who was selling brooms in southeast Kansas Territory, sought the aid of abolitionist George Gill to free his family from slavery in Vernon County, Missouri. Gill alerted the noted abolitionist John Brown, and the next night, Brown and his men entered Vernon and Bates counties, Missouri, and helped liberate the four members of the Daniels Family and seven other enslaved people from three farms, including one owned by David Cruse.
“…Capt. Brown wanted to know if we wanted to be free and said he’d take us where we would be free.”
— Jane (Barton) Harper, one of the freedom seekers, in an interview by Wilbur H. Siebert at Windsor, Canada, 1895.
The group fled into Kansas Territory and then carefully traveled north, moving mainly at night to avoid being spotted by slave catchers who were known to be looking for them. One freedom seeker drove a wagon, and the group stopped at safe houses along the way.

In early January, near Garnett, Kansas Territory (K.T.), Narcissa Daniels, Jim’s wife, gave birth to a free-born son, who the parents named John Brown Daniels. Brown insisted that the group not move to the next station until Narcissa regained her strength, because “I would no more endanger a poor negro woman than a Princess of the Realm.”
After the freedom seekers left the Garnett area, they sheltered in the home of John Brown’s half-sister and brother-in-law, Florella and Samuel Adair, near Osawatomie, K.T., and the home of Native American abolitionist, John “Tauy” Jones, near Ottawa, K.T.

Brown intended for the group to travel to Lawrence and take shelter with the Grovers, so he and several of his men made a trial run to Lawrence. On January 14, 1859, he spent time with the Grovers to make plans for the arrival of the now twelve freedom seekers.
“I am now three miles from Lawrence with Old Brown as they call him. We are looking out a railroad route establishing depots & finding watering places. Our road is a long one, terminating in Canada. . .”
— From a letter by abolitionist Jeremiah Anderson to his brother, John Anderson, while visiting the Grover farm with John Brown.
“January 14, 1859, 3 PM”. . . “Joel has gone to town, [his] wife down stairs cooking and Old Captain John Brown is sitting near me reading the Lawrence Republican. . .There is a young man with him [Jeremiah Anderson]. Both are armed to the ‘teeth.’ ”
— Samuel P. Reed, a hired hand staying with the Grovers, in a letter to his sister.
The group arrived at the Grover farm sometime around the third week of January 1859, and the freedom seekers took shelter in the newly completed stone barn. Independent accounts by Samuel P. Reed, George B. Gill, Dr. John Doy, and Annie Soule Prentiss all confirm the group’s stay at the Grover Barn and John Brown’s involvement. This rich documentation gives the barn its national significance in Underground Railroad history.
“The colored folks cooked food, a supply of provisions, mostly obtained through the generosity of the Grovers and Abbotts.”
— George B. Gill at Grover’s barn in late January 1859, in Richard J. Hinton, John Brown and His Men.
During their stay at the Grover farm, John Brown went into Lawrence, sold the oxen, and bought horses and provisions for the next leg of the trip.

Accounts differ on how long the group stayed in the Grover Barn. Still, according to Samuel Reed, an eyewitness who recorded his information as it happened, they left the Grover farm on January 24, 1859.

On the evening of the departure, John Brown met with abolitionist Dr. John Doy. The latter was leaving on his Underground Railroad journey to Holton, K.T., with thirteen freedom seekers.
After leaving Lawrence, the freedom seekers, led by John Brown, traveled to Topeka, K.T., then to Holton. North of the town, the group encountered more than forty proslavery men dug in on the far side of a creek whose intent was to capture the freedom seekers and return them to slavery. Brown announced, “The Lord has marked out a path for me, and I intend to follow it. We are ready to move,” and began advancing on the creek. John Brown and his men neared the stream, and without anyone firing a shot, the proslavery men suddenly all broke into a wild panic, abandoning their positions along the creek and charging towards their horses that, in turn, were spooked by the charging men. The men desperately mounted the frightened horses and used their spurs to encourage their mounts to get them as far away from John Brown as they could. The incident has been called “The Battle of the Spurs,” as those were the only weapons used that day.
The party of freedom seekers crossed the creek. They proceeded into Nebraska Territory, which ended John Brown’s last visit to Kansas. The journey was not over, though, and the group stayed a night at an Otoe Indian settlement near Nebraska City before crossing the Missouri River into Iowa on February 4, 1859. While in Iowa, Jane Barton married fellow freedom seeker, Sam Harper, who was 18 at the time.
They continued east across Iowa in February and March, stopping at several stations, including Tabor, Grinnell, and Springdale, where they spent about two weeks. At nearby West Liberty, the group was provided with boxcars to ride to Chicago, where Detective Allen Pinkerton arranged for the freedom seekers to ride on to Detroit. On March 12, 1859, John Brown watched as the twelve freedom seekers crossed the Detroit River to freedom in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
After the Journey
After seeing the twelve freedom seekers cross the Detroit River to freedom in Canada, John Brown began work on a plan that would recreate the successful rescue but on a national scale. Six months later, this would culminate with his raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in October of that same year.
Not long before that, Brown had observed, “No, the war is not over. It is a treacherous lull before the storm. We are on the eve of one of the greatest wars in history, and I fear slavery will triumph, and there will be an end of all aspirations for human freedom. . .”
— John Brown, in an interview with William A. Phillips, 1859.
After Joel and Emily Grover
Joel and Emily Grover reared a family of eight children. Grover also held county and state offices. When Joel Grover died in 1879, the family retained ownership of the land and kept the farm in operation for more than 70 years. Following Emily’s death in 1921, two Grover sons farmed the land until they died in 1953. Over the next decade, the property was owned by the Edgar and Dorothy Salsbury family. Bernard “Poco” Frazier, a sculptor, purchased the Grover barn in 1963, using it as his studio. The area that encompassed the original farm was subdivided into residential lots in 1967. A large portion of the 80-acre property was donated to the City of Lawrence. It became Holcom Park in 1976, the same year that Frazier died.
Due to efforts led by Mayor Barkley Clark, in 1980, the City of Lawrence acquired Lot 20 in the Springwood Heights subdivision, which included the barn. Significant alterations were made as the structure was repurposed for use as Fire Station #4 that opened in 1983. An earlier addition to the east was removed, and a new addition was constructed to the south of the building. The large barn door opening on the north was enclosed with a large window. As the city’s westward growth required a larger facility, the City of Lawrence ceased using the building as a fire station in 2006. The city then used the building for police equipment and vehicular storage.
In 2017, a citizens group called the Guardians of Grover Barn was organized and began to work with the City to preserve the barn and promote its history.
Though modified over time, the stone walls and wooden beams of the original territorial period structure remain. Today, the barn stands as a nationally significant legacy of the pre-Civil War Underground Railroad network in Kansas. It offers an opportunity to experience a place where John Brown and freedom seekers risked their lives in pursuit of freedom.
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Stop 6
Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie
29000 Mt Mitchell Rd, Wamego, KS
Located in the endangered tallgrass prairie of eastern Kansas, and once part of the farm of William Mitchell, who was an Underground Railroad Stationmaster, the Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie Historic District is a remarkable resource offering visitors a blend of nature, culture, and history. Comprising 165 acres, this hilltop prairie has been sacred to Native Peoples for hundreds of generations. The Prairie Guards respect and honor this distinction. Envisioned over 50 years ago as place to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of the pioneers who helped defeat slavery, the Park now fulfills that purpose and much more. The mission of the Park’s managers, the Mount Mitchell Prairie Guards, has been to create a resource that community groups and individuals can use for educational and recreational purposes. The Park is now enjoyed by classes from multiple school districts, homeschoolers, scouting groups, travelers and tourists, birders, prairie enthusiasts, walkers, and geocachers. The Park provides educators with an outdoor classroom for teaching history, geography, geology, biology, astronomy and civics. During their visits children also receive the benefits of exercise and fresh air.

The Mount Mitchell Prairie is:

  • Recognized by the National Park Service as a site of national importance to the commemoration of the Underground Railroad. The Topeka Fort Riley Road, which runs through the Park, was the westernmost route of that trail to freedom. Captain Mitchell hid escaping slaves in the loft of his log cabin north of the Park.
  • One of the most popular attractions in the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.
  • An attraction of the Native Stone Scenic Byway.
  • A hands-on resource for the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
  • A feature of the Kansas River Trail, a National Water Trail.
  • A major feature of the envisioned Kaw River Historic Corridor between Topeka and Fort Riley.
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Note: This stop is currently closed.
Stop 7
Quindaro Underground Railroad Museum
3432 N 29 St, Kansas City, KS
The Quindaro Underground Railroad Museum is housed in the Vernon Multipurpose Center. The Center was designated as an historical site by the State of Kansas on August 21, 2004. The center was built in 1936 and formerly served as an elementary school. Bishop and Mrs. Harrison J. Bryant of the African Methodist Episcopal Church established the Vernon Center in May, 1975 as an outreach program to meet the needs of senior citizens in the Northeast and Quindaro areas of Kansas City, Kansas.
The Quindaro Underground Railroad Museum began collecting artifacts in 2000. The museum houses archeological ruins of the Underground Railroad that serve as a monument to racial harmony and to freedom. The displays have cultural and historical value for the descendants of Native Americans who once owned and occupied the site, for African Americans whose ancestors once looked to Quindaro as a gateway to freedom, and for the descendants of Euro-Americans who saw the need to found a Free State port and fight slavery. At the museum, you can also see plaques and monuments reflecting the history of the Western University.
The Quindaro Underground Railroad Museum holds a portion of history significant not only to the state of Kansas, but to the nation as well. The entire Quindaro area has become a regional tourist attraction and there are few sites and structures from 19thcentury Kansas City that remain as well-known throughout the nation as the town site and ruins of Quindaro.
Tours of this site and the Quindaro Townsite National Commemorative site by appointment. The townsite is not open to the public at this time, but weather, trail conditions, and guide availability permitting, site tours are sometimes arranged. The number listed below is for the Kansas City Kansas Convention Visitors Bureau. Contact the bureau for more information.
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Stop 8
Quindaro Overlook
3507 N 27th St, Kansas City, KS
Dedicated in 2008, this overlook presents a vantage point to survey the ruins of Quindaro, a Wyandot community and Underground Railroad landmark.

Interpretive signs at the overlook tell the story of “Old Quindaro,” a briefly thriving river port town founded in 1857 to provide a safe harbor for free-soil migrants after pro-slavery residents blockaded all the other ports on the Missouri River.
As you approach the site, note the statue of John Brown. It was erected by Western University in 1911. Originally a Freedman’s School, Western University became the first historically black college west of the Mississippi. Its music school was nationally recognized, but financial difficulties caused it to close its doors in 1943.
Using land purchased from local Wyandots, the town grew quickly along the steep hillside, with a population that was part Indian, part white, and part free black. Many stories have been passed down about the cooperative efforts of these three groups in the work of the Underground Railroad.
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Stop 9
Ritchie House
1116 SE Madison St, Topeka, KS
The Historic Ritchie House was owned by early Kansas Territory settlers, John and Mary Jane Ritchie. The house, the only Underground Railroad stop in Topeka that remains standing, and the Cox Communications Heritage Education Center next door are located in Topeka, Kansas.

250 fugitive slaves came through the house on their way to freedom in Canada. In the 1850s, it was a periodic meeting place for John Brown, Jim Lane, and other abolitionists.
The Historic John and Mary Jane Ritchie house, built in 1857, is a project of the Shawnee County Historical Society located in Topeka, Kansas. It was acquired by the Society in 1995 and has undergone restoration and preservation. The stone house which stands at 1116 SE Madison serves as an interpretive site of Kansas area heritage and serves also as an important landmark in Shawnee County, Kansas.
This historic stone house was built by John and Mary Jane Ritchie and represents the legacy of the generation of pioneers who founded Topeka and shaped its early directions. The house has been included on the Kansas Register of Historic Places as well as the National Register of Historic Places. Standing next to the stone house is the Shawnee County Historical Society's Cox Communications Heritage Education Center.
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Stop 10
Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum
716 N 1190 Rd, Lawrence, KS
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 brought settlers to the Wakarusa River Valley, where fertile land stretched west of Lawrence and east of Topeka. The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails were the "highway" thoroughfares stretching East to West.
Many communities were established in the Wakarusa River Valley in those early days just west of Lawrence and usually with a strong point-of-view on pro or anti-slavery beliefs. During the Bleeding Kansas Era, this area was rife with conflict between abolitionists and pro-slavery residents.
The Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum pays tribute to the communities and the founding settlers for their perseverance of defending their staunch beliefs in difficult times. The two permanent exhibits showcase the area's unique local history. "Angels of Freedom, Heros Along the Underground Railroad in the Wakarusa River Valley" showcases the people who fought for their own freedom and those who took a stand for other's. "The Wakarusa Valley Communities - The First 20 Years, 1854-1874" tells the history of the 10 main communities that dotted the valley. Each year a featured exhibit delves deeper into the history of one of these communities or an aspect of settler life.
While the valley's history is monumental, a commitment to preserve it may not have come to fruition until the Clinton Reservoir and Dam began construction. Community members realized stories may never be preserved once generational families were displaced and artifacts disappeared or were destroyed. The Clinton Lake Historical Society, a non-profit organization, was organized solely for the purpose of documenting community and family histories through stories, photos and documents in the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum.
The museum is located inside Bloomington Park on the west side of Clinton Lake. The sculpture, Freedom Rings by Stephen Johnson, greets visitors at the entrance. The scenic museum grounds look over the western shores of Clinton Lake and are surrounded by parkland. Old Kansas Avenue, that ran to Lawrence, crosses the grounds and is the background for the butterfly garden and the Bidinger Bluebird Sanctuary. Community events and picnics are held on the courtyard and stage.
Feel free to visit the museum during operating hours to learn more. We are open to the public from May through October, Saturday & Sunday 1-5pm. Please call for research information or tours.
The Angels of Freedom exhibit at the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum shares narratives of the heroic men and women of the Wakarusa Valley who showed extraordinary courage and commitment to freedom for all. Many who settled in the area were avid anti-slavery supporters, therefore it comes as no surprise that the transport of freedom seekers passed through the area via the Underground Railroad.
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Stop 11
Watkins Museum of History
1047 Massachusetts St, Lawrence, KS
Discover stories of the settlement of Lawrence, Kansas, and the development of Douglas County in an 1888 building that housed the headquarters of a successful land mortgage and banking business that helped finance settlement of the west.
The Museum hosts exhibits and programs exploring the cultural heritage of Douglas County from its settlement in the "Bleeding Kansas" period through the Civil War, reconstruction, westward expansion, and Civil Rights eras.

The Watkins Museum of History is housed in a building commissioned by Lawrence financier Jabez Bunting ("J.B.") Watkins. The future Land Mortgage Company and Watkins National Bank was constructed between 1885 and 1888.
A classic example of the Richardsonian Romanesque influence on Kansas’s architecture, it was considered one of the most magnificent buildings west of the Mississippi River at the time of its construction.

The third floor of the building served as the home office of the J.B. Watkins Land Mortgage Company, which solicited funds from the east to lend to farmers in the Midwest. The Company, one of the largest of its kind, had branch offices in London, New York City, Dallas and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
In 1888 the Watkins National Bank was established on the ground floor of the building. The original cost of the building was $100,000; however, replacement cost today would be over $20,000,000.

J. B.’s wife, Elizabeth Miller Watkins, donated the building to the city in 1929, and it was used as City Hall until 1970. After restoration, it became the home of the Elizabeth M. Watkins Museum in April 1975. Approximately five years ago the name was changed to the Watkins Museum of History to clarify the Museum’s focus.
As you tour the building notice the architectural details. Doors have brass dressing plates, keyhole covers and ornamental hinges. Floors, walls, and ceilings have intricate finishings. There are three stained-glass windows may have been salvaged from the former Methodist church (owned by J. B. Watkins) that was located on the southwest corner of 10th and Massachusetts streets.
Feel free to visit the museum during operating hours to learn more. We are open to the public from May through October, Saturday & Sunday 1-5pm. Please call for research information or tours.
Some exhibits change on a regular basis, but you will always find information about the August 21, 1863 Quantrill's Raid that left nearly all of Lawrence burned to ashes, and more than 180 men and boys dead. Other exhibits and displays include an antique car on an upper level of the museum, and a life-size, furnished Victorian playhouse that children can enter.
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