Lessons in the Geography of the 

Underground Railroad in New York State

Scenario 3: Northern New York

by Timothy McDonnell
New York Geographic Alliance

UGRR Station Map

List of UGRR Stations:

1 - Leonard Gibbs House (Greenwich or Union Village)
6 - Timbuctoo
(John Brown Home - Lake Placid)
11 - Clifford Laplant House (Champlain)
2 - Old Stone Library (Fort Ann)
7 - Wendell Lansing Farm (Wilmington)
12 - Major Dimmick Home (Malone)
3 - Old Fort Edwards Museum
8 - Samuel Keese Smith Home (Peru)
13 - Jacob Parkhurst Home (Ft. Covington)
4 - Canal Port at Whitehall
9 - John Townsend Addoms Homestead

5 - Darrowsville Wesleyan Methodist Church (Darrowsville)
10 - Beartown Settlement

There are several parts to this lesson. First you will decide on a route for a Freedom Seeker to take on his/her way northward. Then you will read about a real escape on the Underground Railroad in the Foothills of the Adirondacks. You will look over some primary sources (old map, census record, a journal) and see if the story makes sense. Ready? It's time to do some geography!

TASK 1: Look at the NYGA Elevation Map (by Carol Gersmehl). What does the landscape look like around Lake Champlain and the rest of Northeastern New York? Do you think that this would affect the routes Freedom Seekers took?

TASK 2: Help plan the escape route for a Freedom Seeker:
A husband and wife who escaped from slavery several years ago having been living in Troy for several years. Now their former master is in town claiming them. They are taken by wagon to the village of Union (now called Greenwich #1) in Washington County. It is not safe to return to Troy or Albany, so the agents in Union decide to send the couple north toward Lake Champlain and then on to Canada. They probably can slip over the border at the northern end of Lake Champlain.
How do you expect the accomplish this feat? List the stations you will use on the chart on your Student Worksheet.

TASK 3: It looks like the border crossing at Champlain (#11) is too dangerous. What alternative route can you take? Write your new plan on the Student Worksheet.

TASK 4: Now that you have determined a possible escape route for a Freedom Seeker, now it is time to compare it to an actual event in the real Underground Railroad. To view this document, click on this link: North Country UGRR

Primary Sources to Help in Verification

Photos of People and
UGRR Stations
Maps and Panoramic Views
Census Records
Samuel Keese Smith

Beartown Ruins

Keese Home

UGRR Plaque for Union Village (Greenwich, NY)

Guide Board (near Ft. Ann)

Old Stone Library (Ft. Ann)
1868 Canal Map of NYS

Union Village (Greenwich) UGRR Map

Clinton County Map (1875)

UGRR Centers of Beekmantown

Floor Plan of Townsend Addoms House
Obadiah Doody 1820

Beekmantown 1860 Census

Townsend Adams 1860

John Thomas Census Record
Quotes from Underground Railroad
by Tom Calarco

Article on the Black Communities of Clinton County

Bloomingdale African-American Hideout

Make sure you answer the questions on the Student Worksheet from Task 4. This includes filling in the chart on the primary sources included in this web page.

CONCLUSIONS: The wrap-up of this activity will be done as a class. Make sure you participate in the class discussion!

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