Copy of Sandusky AerialSandusky, Ohio, boasts significant ties to the Underground Railroad movement, offering compelling opportunities to delve into its rich historical legacy. During the mid-19th century, Sandusky emerged as a pivotal hub along the clandestine network that provided sanctuary to enslaved individuals seeking freedom. Its flat terrain and strategic location near Sandusky Bay facilitated swift passage for those journeying towards liberation in Canada. The city abounds with private homes and businesses that served as safe havens, with citizens playing vital roles in the Underground Railroad's operation. As we celebrate Black History Month, take a stroll or short drive through the city and discover the sites that played a crucial role in helping people escape to freedom. You don't need a guided tour – just grab a map and explore at your own pace. These sites are more than just old buildings; they're a tangible link to the past, showcasing the determination and resilience of those who sought a better life.

However, if a guided tour is more your pace, check out the Port to Freedom Underground Railroad Tour offered by Firelands Adventure Tours. This 18-passenger, ADA compliant, bus offers a variety of tour options around Firelands Adventure Tours UGRR Facer ParkSandusky and throughout the Shores & Islands Ohio region, led by knowledgeable and informative guides. Their Port to Freedom tour lasts approximately 2 hours and departs from the Jackson Street Pier in downtown Sandusky.  

The Maritime Museum of Sandusky serves as an insightful introduction, showcasing the area's maritime heritage through interactive exhibits covering diverse topics such as ice harvesting and passenger vessels. An extensive exhibit dedicated to the Underground Railroad sheds light on Sandusky's pivotal role in this historic movement, offering poignant insights into the challenges faced by freedom seekers crossing Lake Erie.

Next, visit Facer Park, home to the stirring "Path to Freedom" sculpture by local artist Susan Schultz, symbolizes the courageous journey of individuals breaking free from enslavement, surrounded by pedestal displays paying tribute to those who shaped Sandusky's Underground Railroad narrative.

A short drive through town passes significant homes instrumental in the Underground Railroad movement. The Rush R. Sloane house, listed on the National Historic Register and soon-to-be-available as a Bed & Breakfast, highlights the sacrifices made by 2d698e7e-7fa1-40ee-9cf5-98da3804e6fd_Square%20Maritime%20UGRR%20display%20squareabolitionists like Sloane, who faced trial and fines under the Fugitive Slave Act. The Joseph M. Root house, once home to a radical abolitionist, attorney, and Mayor of Sandusky, offers further insights into the city's history.

Make a stop at the Follett House Museum, housed in the former residence of Oran and Eliza Follett. Eliza's compassion for escaping slaves led her to shelter many in their home, underscoring Sandusky's pivotal role in the Underground Railroad. The museum's exhibits span Sandusky's history from the War of 1812 to the Civil War era, offering a comprehensive understanding of the region's heritage across four floors of artifacts.

The Second Baptist Church was founded in 1849 as Zion Baptist Church by a group of seven former enslaved people and freeborn blacks. It was also known, prior to the Civil War, as the First Regular Anti-Slavery Baptist Church. The church was an active “station” in Sandusky and many freedom seekers were hidden, fed, and clothed here. The present-day church is constructed around the original church’s wooden framework, and along with the adjacent parsonage, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Facer Park statueSandusky’s famed Jackson Street Pier is a popular space where you can enjoy the Sandusky Bay waterfront. As a final tie to the Underground Railroad history, this spot is between the dock described by Stowe in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the “Big Four” dock at the foot of Lawrence Street where many “fugitives” came in by actual rail car and escaped via abolitionist boats.

Join Shores & Islands Ohio on a self-guided or chauffeured journey through Sandusky's Underground Railroad sites, where every step tells a story of resilience and hope.