The history of the Underground Railroad runs through Niagara County. With its proximity to Canada, the area became a prime location for hundreds of abolitionists to help fugitive enslaved people escape to freedom across the border. Churches, homes, farmhouses and other dwellings were used as hiding places along the Underground Railroad in New York, as leaders like Harriet Tubman would help escaped slaves make their way into Canada via the Niagara River. Visitors can now learn about this period in Black American history through interactive exhibits, monuments and experiential museums. Read on to learn about Underground Railroad locations and exhibits around Niagara County and take a self-guided journey through time.
Located inside the former 1863 U.S. Customs House (attached to the Niagara Falls Amtrak Station), this permanent exhibition tells the stories of how the actions of the community — particularly the free Black American residents — coupled with the region’s natural geographic benefits and location on the border to Canada were critical in bringing countless individuals to freedom. In this rich learning experience for kids and adults alike, visitors can enjoy a variety of interactive exhibits, hear the stories of prominent historical figures such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and sign up for a tour to learn more facts about the Underground Railroad.
Centrally located in Niagara Falls, NY, the NACC offers visual and performing arts events to the public, as well as artist residencies and workshops, across its 180,000-square-foot building. The exhibit “Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara” tells the story of how thousands of freedom seekers passed through the area to Canada, as the Niagara River was often the last crossing to freedom. The exhibit tells this story through historic photographs, artifacts, books, interactive stations and contemporary artwork.