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African American Heritage Itinerary

Start the day off by heading from your hotel to Whirlpool St. and Ontario St. to the Whirlpool Bridge. This was the former site of the Suspension Bridge which was used to transport escaping slaves from the United States to freedom in Canada. (20 minutes)

Use the Robert Moses Parkway to travel the scenic route along the Niagara Gorge as you head to the Castellani Art Museum to view their exhibit "Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara." There you'll find historical photos, artifacts, and video stations that tell the story of the Underground Railroad in the Niagara region. Part of the New York State Heritage Trail. (FREE) (30-40min)

Continue heading north to Lewiston, a quaint historic village situated on the Lower Niagara River that tells its own story of the village's role in the Underground Railroad.

  • Contact Marble Orchard Historic Walking Tours for a guided living history tour with captivating characters that will educate you on Lewiston's role in the Underground Railroad and the slaves and abolitionists that were significant during that time. (1+ hrs)
  • Customized tours available. 10 people minimum. For pricing and appointment scheduling, call (716) 754-0166.

Visit the Freedom Crossing Monument located on the bank of the Lower Niagara River in Lewiston. The monument, based on the book "Freedom Crossing," by Margaret Goff Clark, honors the fugitive slaves and the locals who protected those slaves as they sought freedom in Canada. (30 min)

*Dine on the waterfront at the Silo Restaurant, a casual restaurant with a unique setting or Waterstreet Landing for a sit-down dinner

Next it's off to Murphy Orchards, the Historic Farmstead of Abolitionist Charles McClew. The site is recognized as part of the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail. There, they offer an Underground Railroad History tour which includes a presentation of Underground Railroad history, a tractor drawn wagon ride, a short walk along Hopkins Creek to experience the landscape traveled by people escaping from slavery, and a view of the entrance to a secret room under the barn which was used to hide and shelter people escaping from slavery.

Nash House
Reverend J. Edward Nash, Sr. was the pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church from 1892-1953. Reverend Nash's statewide and national reputation allowed him to host national civil rights leaders like Booker T. Washington and many others. A wealth of speeches, noted and letters have been preserved highlighting Buffalo Niagara's importance to the nation's civil rights movement.

Michigan Street Baptist Church
Built in 1845, it is the oldest structure in Western New York that was built for and continuously occupied by African Americans. It was a legendary stop on the Underground Railroad. It was also a meeting place for 19th century abolitionists.

Broderick Park
Slaves gathered here to cross the Niagara River to freedom in Canada.

The Colored Musicians Club
Because of its central location - and role as a railroad hub - Buffalo became a popular stop and since 1917 the Club hosted Jazz legends Dizzie Gillespie, Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.

Helpful Hints

Consider using tour companies with step-on guides to narrate your tours -

*Encounter Niagara Tours: The Region’s most unique, exciting and innovative tour programs and guides. History & Heritage, Legend & Lore, it all becomes a living encounter with Niagara through Encounter Niagara Tours. Services include Step-on Guides (including characters from Niagara’s History). Phone (716) 462-4402 /

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