There are a number of stories from the Underground Railroad that have diminished with time, but the truth is, Washington NC was a major passageway for abolitionists to free slaves. Slaves hid out in marshes, swamps, and the woods. Where the Pamlico River ends was where one of NC’s most dominant ‘freedom roads’ existed. Washington became ground zero for the Underground railroad.
Now, at the corner of Main and Gladden Streets in Washington sits a train car from 1965. Staffed by Leesa and her husband, as the supply of volunteers is limited, the Underground Railroad Museum is limited to being open Friday and Saturday, weather permitting.
Some of the artifacts displayed are very matter of fact for their time, such as advertisements offering a $100 reward for the return of a ‘negro girl’ named America. She ran away on the day after Christmas in 1853. It also asks for the conviction of any white man attempting to take her to a free state.
There’s also a ‘Cash For Negroes’ ad from February 19th, 1831 from someone looking to purchase ‘Forty to Fifty Negroes’ from the ages of 10 to 26, with applications being taken at a tavern in Washington or from subscribers in New Bern.
This history of slavery in Washington and Beaufort County is located in a restored Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Caboose. Thank you to Leesa and her husband for having us out.