Ohio, and Northeast Ohio in particular, played a major role in the "Underground Railroad," that secret route to freedom in Canada for many black slaves who escaped from the southern states in the 19th century. Many of the homes that hid this precious human cargo still stand today. The Follett House Museum in Sandusky, the Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum in Ashtabula, and Rider's Inn in Painesville (pictured at left) were all stops along the route. Extreme Northeast Ohio was a logical escape route as it was just under 100 miles from the south (northwestern Virginia, now West Virginia).
You can learn more about these brave Ohioans at the Western Reserve Historical Society in University Circle as well as on one of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's narrated rail tours, where costumed docents tell stories from the abolitionist era.
(Photo courtesy of Rider's Inn)