As a congressman and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens made it his life’s goal to obtain Civil Rights and equality for all Americans. His passion for the cause often put him in perilous situations. The Thaddeus Stevens roadtrip takes you to the site of his office, his business, as well as places that commemorate the effort put forth by all abolitionists.
Home and Office of Thaddeus Stevens – Lancaster
Recently authenticated among the newest additions to the National Network to Freedom, these adjoining buildings were the former home and law office of Lancaster attorney, U.S. Congressman, and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens from 1843 until his death in 1868. This is also where Stevens assisted Oliver C. Gilbert and his group find shelter along the Underground Railroad in 1848. During the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, Stevens served as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. After the Civil War, he led the Radical Republicans and pushed for strict enforcement of civil rights for freed African Americans, guiding the passage of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. It is hoped that the façades will be restored to their nineteenth-century appearance and incorporated into the planned Lancaster County Convention Center, with interpretive displays about Stevens' life and career, including his evident involvement in the Underground Railroad along with Lydia Hamilton Smith, Thaddeus Stevens' housekeeper and business manager, and a likely "conductor" for the Underground Railroad. These buildings are Stop #7 of South Queen Street in the Walking Tours. Take some time to remember the crucial role that Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith both played in the development of our nation. They championed equal rights for Americans of all colors and backgrounds although such views were unpopular at the time. This site stands in honor of their journey and sacrifice in making America a better place.
Bethel AME Church – Lancaster
Bethel AME is the oldest AME Church in Lancaster. As oral tradition, as well as the mission and traditions of the AME church indicate, Bethel sheltered Africans who sought freedom along the Underground Railroad and served as a center of spiritual renewal for free African Americans who lived in Lancaster. Today, journey back to the time of the Civil War and experience first-hand the plight and struggle of escaped Africans while viewing and participating in the living history production "Living the Experience." This production runs each Saturday, February through December and begins at 1:00 p.m. The performance including the meal after the show (meal available for groups of 35 or larger only) lasts approximately three hours. Bethel AME Church’s Living The Experience, is a Network To Freedom-content authenticated program – Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith are interpreted as key people involved in Underground Railroad activities in Lancaster in the live performance.
Thaddeus Stevens Gravesite at Schreiner-Concord Cemetery – Lancaster
Along with being a lawyer and an avid abolitionist, Thaddeus Stevens also served as Lancaster's representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was instrumental in advancing the great civil rights amendments to the U.S. Constitution banning slavery, providing equal protection under the laws, and expanding the right to vote. Stevens died in Washington, D.C., at midnight on August 11, 1868. Over 20,000 people-half of whom were free Black men-attended his funeral in Lancaster. Pay your respects and take a look at Thaddeus Steven’s famed epitaph, which is also part of “his story” in this site.
President Buchanan's Wheatland House – Lancaster
The events that led up to the civil war and the powder keg that Lincoln inherited were set in motion during the presidency of James Buchanan, the only U.S. president to come from Pennsylvania. Thaddeus Stevens’ role in congress and his views on equality made him a prominent and controversial figure while President Buchanan was in office. South Carolina and Georgia seceded from the Union during Buchanan’s term causing tensions to rise between the North and the South and james Buchanan allowed the confederate troops to amass for months around Fort Sumnter.. Wheatland, President Buchanan’s former residence, is a beautiful four-acre park located on the grounds of the Louise Tanger Arboretum. Today it stands restored to its 1856 glory. Inside, visitors can see many of the home’s original furnishings and magnificent architecture. Wheatland gives a rare glimpse of the home of the 15th President of the United States. Other Buchanan historic sites can be viewed in Franklin and Bedford counties.
Thaddeus Stevens Iron Works – Chambersburg
Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith, a free woman of color who acted as Stevens' housekeeper and confidante, worked as conductors on the Underground Railroad and assisted many freedom seekers. Even though the Thaddeus Stevens/Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site is currently under construction and restoration –their home will become a historical museum-- the ruins of Thaddeus Stevens’ Iron Works, an official Network to Freedom site, can still be seen at Caledonia State Park near the Price of Freedom CMU Story site, a legacy of Pennsylvania’s past as a critical source of raw materials to the Union war effort. Steven’s manager and crew gave employment and shelter to freedom seekers here at Caledonia State Park. The history of the park is both colorful and varied. The park is named for Thaddeus Stevens' charcoal iron furnace which began operation in 1837. The Honorable Thaddeus Stevens was born in Caledonia County, Vermont and became a famous abolitionist, statesman and father of the public school system in Pennsylvania. During the Civil War, the area was invaded by Confederate troops and the furnace was destroyed, in part due to Mr. Stevens’ anti-slavery views. In 1927, the Pennsylvania Alpine Club reconstructed the stack of the old furnace as a reduced scale monument. The reconstructed scale model stack and blacksmith shop are the only visible reminders of the early iron works. The scenic watercourse along PA Route 233 was once the millrace that operated the furnace waterwheel.
Eat HereCarr’s Restaurant - Lancaster
Surprise and delight your taste buds. Carr's offers a menu which is simple, direct, yet fine-edged, with respect for local suppliers of fresh meats, vegetables, fruit and fowl. A local favorite is the Eberly Farms French style chicken, an organically raised bird, pure in flavor, prepared in an herb-infused marsala jus and served with a chive potato purée. And how satisfying it is to go to a new restaurant and find something for everyone!
Sleep HereLancaster Marriott at Penn Square
It's a brand new, landmark hotel sitting proud amongst the vibrant Lancaster city streets. You're walking distance to Gallery Row and the Arts District where you can experience firsthand the flourishing downtown arts scene. And right next door is Central Market, the oldest, continuously operated farmers market in the United States and a perfect place to grab breakfast before starting another day of your Civil War Trails journey.
McAllister's Mill Underground Railroad Site - Gettysburg/Rock Creek
McAllister’s Mill, 1.5 mile south of Gettysburg on Rock Creek, off -Baltimore Pike, was an Underground Railroad safe house and site of the formation of Adams County Anti-Slavery Society in 1836. Here resolutions were passed reportedly ghost-written by Thaddeus Stevens. You can truly feel the solemn history of the past. The whispers of the secret meetings held in the old mill to plot the way to freedom. The baying of the hounds following the freedom seekers along the creek. The light from the lantern of the bounty hunters, flickering through the trees. The young McAllister boy, would stand in the shadow of the mill, waiting, and then hiding those who were on the run under the mill wheel for a short rest before they continued their journey north. This was also a place where Union soldiers and confederates fought. The wounded, both blue and gray, laid on the floor of that old mill, and those who died were carried to the hill beyond for burial. The old wagon with the body of young George Sandoe passed through here. He was the first one to be killed. This is a stop that should be added to any trip to Gettysburg. Guided tours available. Nowadays, it is recognized by the National Park Service as part of the UGRR Network to Freedom. The famous mill pond was also featured on History Channel’s "Battlefield Detectives".
Underground Railroad Center at Historic Zercher Hotel – Christiana
The self-guided museum provides fascinating evidence of the Christiana Resistance; bibliographies of those involved in the resistance, and the locations of more than 20 Underground Railroad Stations in the surrounding countryside. Opened on September 11, 2006, the anniversary of the Resistance, the Center's information is well documented in an easy to follow educational format. Many historians consider the Christiana Resistance in 1851 to be the first battle of the Civil War, for it was here that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 was tested for the first time when Edward Gorsuch, a Maryland farmer, came in search of four freedom seekers formerly-enslaved to him. After neighbors gathered to oppose his posse, Gorsuch was shot and killed. Federal authorities charged participants with treason, but all were acquitted.
John Harris / Simon Cameron Mansion – Harrisburg
This quaint stone residence was originally the home of John Harris Jr., the founder of Harrisburg. He settled this land and built his house around 1766. It was later bought by Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator and Lincoln’s Secretary of War, and is now headquarters for the Historical Society of Dauphin County as well as a museum. Black veterans who were not invited to march in Washington, DC at the end of the Civil War held a parade in Harrisburg on November 14, 1865, where Thomas Morris Chester, Harrisburg's most distinguished African American, served as grand marshal. The parade formed at State and Filbert Streets (now Soldier's Grove), and the soldiers marched through Harrisburg to Simon Cameron’s South Front Street residence. Cameron reviewed the troops from his front porch and thanked them for their service to the nation with an epic speech.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania – Harrisburg
The highlights of The State Museum of Pennsylvania's Civil War Gallery are the paintings of the Battle of Gettysburg by artist Peter Frederick Rothermel. At the conclusion of the Civil War, the Pennsylvania legislature commissioned Rothermel to execute paintings that would commemorate Pennsylvania's role in the Battle of Gettysburg. Completed in 1870, Rothermel's monumental Pickett's Charge depicts the climactic conclusion of the battle when the Union line turned back a determined Confederate assault. While the cyclorama in Gettysburg is the largest painting in the country, the Rothermel painting is the largest battle scene on a single canvas in North America. Rothermel was also commissioned to produce four smaller paintings of other scenes from the battle, which are also seen in the Rothemal Gallery across from the panorama.
Eat HereBricco - Harrisburg
Downtown Harrisburg’s premier world-dining experience, located at International Place on Chestnut Street. Fine Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, with a menu that rotates seasonally to deliver rustic, soulful dishes from the South of France, Italy, Greece and Spain. Open for lunch and dinner.
Sleep HereCrowne Plaza – Harrisburg
Walk to Downtown Harrisburg's history and attractions, including Restaurant Row, the Susquehanna River, and The Whitaker Center with IMAX. You won't find more to do right outside the door anywhere else in the area.
John Heinz History Center – Pittsburgh
A trip into Pittsburgh brings you to the Senator John Heinz History Center, proud keeper of Pennsylvania’s largest collection of original artifacts and documents including the papers and early writings of Martin Delaney who together with Frederick Douglas published the landmark newspaper The North Star. Delaney sold his first publication, the Mystery to the AME church. It became the Christian Recorder. All three papers as well as an impressive early collection on the Pittsburgh Courier can be found in the archives and libraries at the History Center. It’s practically bursting with knowledge of Pennsylvania’s role in the Civil War. The museum’s History Center presents interactive, engaging exhibits on some of the most compelling and unforgettable stories from American history. Check out amazing rare original copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment --part of Thaddeus Stevens’ legacy to this country, Lincoln's writing desk (complete with scribbles), and that iconic top hat. It’s easy to lose yourself for hours reading and learning about Pennsylvania’s past in their fantastic reading room. Heinz is also the Western Pennsylvania anchor for the Live & Learn Program and hub for Civil War 150 activities.
The Somerset Historical Center - Somerset County
There were three principal Underground Railroad escape systems during the years of 1840-1865, the greatest freedom seeking activity in Pennsylvania. The western route from Maryland, Virginia and Ohio took travelers through the heart of the Laurel Highlands and current day Somerset County. Pennsylvania’s gradual abolition act insured that freedom seekers could make a good life for themselves if they escaped into the Allegheny Ridge. The Somerset Historical Center is a 150 acre rural history museum located 4 miles north of the town of Somerset, Pennsylvania. The Somerset Historical Center preserves the history of life in rural southwestern Pennsylvania from the times of the region's first farmers to the present day through exhibits, workshops and educational programs. The Historical Center serves as the headquarters of the Historical & Genealogical Society of Somerset County. Permanent orientation exhibits and videos can be seen in the Visitors Center, constructed in 1997. The Visitors Center is also home to the Historical Society’s Genealogical Research Library and additional changing exhibits. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor exhibits like an 1830s Farmstead and a 1860s Maple Sugar Camp. Guided tours are available April through November.
Eat HereChurch Brew Works - Pittsburgh
Sip namesake microbrews beneath gothic chandeliers and fancy arches at the former St. John the Baptist, the same land where Allegheny Arsenal once manufactured supplies for the Union troops. Now interesting sandwiches and brick oven pizzas, along with some artisanal brewskies populate these pews.
Sleep HereShadyside Inn & Suites – Pittsburgh
This chic, contemporary hotel is within walking distance of the best dining, entertainment and shopping in Pittsburgh. It's like having your own place in the city's best location.