Sarah and her husband James' contributions to the abolitionist movement were felt throughout the young country. They would make trips to various cities in Pennsylvania from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and Gettysburg to Erie to represent those being persecuted and needed support. Sarah McKim's roadtrip takes you along the trails of the Civil Rights struggle in Pennsylvania. And guides you through the story of how the country made its way to true equality.
Cumberland County Historical Society – Carlisle
The central route of the Underground Railroad led freedom seekers up our current Rts. 11 and 15 with Carlisle as the safe community before heading for Williamsport and beyond. Carlisle was a hot bed of abolitionist activities. It was here that the famous McClintock Court House riot against the bounty hunters took place and where abolitionist James McKim first read Garrison’s newspaper while in a barber shop owned by John Peck. The Cumberland County Historical Society, a PA Civil War Trails Gateway site and Network to Freedom location, is located in Sarah McKim’s hometown. And it has a new dynamic, award-winning museum that houses these great stories while it engages, inspires and educates visitors of all ages. Visitors will experience stories of a changing world, evolving lives and the dreams that shaped local, state and national history. The newly redesigned facility is on the second floor, expanded to 6,300 square feet and encompasses 16 galleries with nine windows to history and two changing galleries. Dedicated to preserving, collecting and interpreting county history, CCHS maintains the library, photo archives, hands-on educational center, museum shop and historic Two Mile House, located on Walnut Bottom Road in Carlisle.
National Civil War Museum – Harrisburg
The National Civil War Museum sits majestically atop Harrisburg's highest point at the head of the Cumberland Valley. Step out of your car and experience the beautiful hillsides of Cumberland where Civil War soldiers clashed. Take a stroll around the building and see just how close the Confederates came to conquering Harrisburg. The museum holds collections of artifacts, manuscripts, documents, photographs, and other printed artifacts. Sarah McKim and her husband James played an important role in Harrisburg participating in the Negro Conventions for civil rights in 1850, 1856, 1861 and 1865. The National Civil War Museum is the largest in the world solely dedicated to the American Civil War, and it proudly provides an unbiased look at the war from both Northern and Southern viewpoints. Outside the museum is the Walk Of Valor, an arc of red bricks commemorating those who served.
John Brown - Mary Ritner House – Chambersburg
This quaint and modest boarding house belonged to Mary Ritner. This is where John Brown formulated his plan and secured weapons for his attack on the Federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry on October 16, 1859. During the trial and execution of John Brown, Sarah McKim and her husband provided emotional support to Brown’s wife. Mary Ritner was the widow of Abram Ritner, a railroad conductor whose father was governor of Pennsylvania and a well known abolitionist speaker. Upon his death on 1851, Mary expanded the house to accommodate boarders. The house survived the burning of Chambersburg on July 30, 1864. The house is now part of the Chambersburg Heritage Center and has been restored with period furniture. If John Brown visited Chambersburg today, he’ll feel like things haven’t changed much at all in the Mary Ritner House.
Eat HereThe Golden Sheaf - Harrisburg
Harrisburg's only AAA Four Diamond restaurant, The Golden Sheaf serves American Regional Cuisine and boasts a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list. Open for lunch and dinner.
Sleep HereThe Milestone Inn on the River - Harrisburg
A distinguished riverfront mansion, with four overnight guest rooms that are simply perfect for romantic getaways and restful weekend escapes. With luxurious amenities and full breakfast every morning is the perfect place to recharge during your trip.
Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia
The Philadelphia region was also witness to Sarah McKim’s abolitionist activities and fervor. History acknowledges her role in controversial legal cases such as the trial of William Still and 5 Black dock workers, accused of helping in the liberation of Jane Johnson. The Atwater Kent Museum tells the 300-year history of Philadelphia and its people. Included in that history are the stories of the city’s early African American inhabitants – many of them enslaved and the abolitionist struggle from its inception in America. You’ll see artifacts like a silver bowl that accompanied an enslaved child to Philadelphia, as well as wrist shackles from the 1700’s and African American Quaker dolls. There’s also a banner commemorating the life of Civil Rights leader, Octavius V. Catto, an activist for abolition and equal rights. He helped raise eleven United States Colored Troop regiments, and was commissioned as a Major himself. Catto’s life was cut short when he was shot on his way to vote on Election Day. The museum and its galleries will be renovated and reopened to the public in September 2011.
Belmont Mansion – Fairmount
Sarah McKim could relate to the Civil Rights battles waged at the Belmont Mansion. Sarah’s passion for a truly free country helped to solidify Pennsylvania’s role in the Civil Rights movement. Her assistance along the Underground Railroad helped change the course of many lives. The Belmont Mansion was an important stop along the Underground railroad freedom seekers had to follow. Judge Richard Peters inherited this 18th-century home from his father during the turmoil of the Revolutionary War. One of the first non-Quaker members of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, Judge Peters entertained a number of leaders and dignitaries here, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. Belmont Mansion is located in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. The mansion is now an Underground Railroad Museum where visitors can tour the property and learn how the mansion became a vital part of the Underground Railroad by receiving freedom seekers and hiding them in the third-floor attic. Judge Peters is credited with purchasing and then freeing an enslaved woman named Cornelia Wells and her daughter. A washerwoman, Wells later became an entrepreneur by selling her horseshoe-shaped ginger cakes and spruce beer. Today, descendants of Peters are active with the American Women's Heritage Society, the association that maintains the estate.
Independence National Historical Park & Liberty Bell Center – Philadelphia
The most historic square mile in one of America’s oldest cities. Independence National Historical Park, locally referred to as Independence Mall, covers several blocks in the middle of the shops and restaurants of Old City Philadelphia. Independence Hall became an important place for abolition protest against federal laws. Sarah and James McKim were involved in some of these protests and high-profile legal cases pertaining freedom seekers in Philadelphia. Part of the Liberty Bell Center teaches visitors about the enslaved Africans who labored at the President's House during George Washington's tenure, plus the 21st-century controversy swirling around the National Park Service's efforts to tell their stories. The National Park Service offers a "Quest for Freedom" guided walking tour throughout the spring, summer and autumn.
Eat HereMac’s Tavern
Located in historic Old City, Philadelphia, Mac’s Tavern offers tavern fare with a true blend of comfort and quality whether you are looking for a fantastic sandwich, a unique beer, a ball game to watch, or a jukebox. Mac’s tavern is a recipe for complete satisfaction.
Sleep HereSheraton Society Hill Hotel
Enjoy a warm welcome and step back in time to colonial Philadelphia at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel. Create memories with loved ones as you stroll along cobblestone streets and visit America’s most historic square mile, which includes such sites as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, just four blocks away.
Underground Railroad Museum – Blairsville
The Cumberland trail Underground Railroad route started in Maryland, made its way to Uniontown, PA and then wove through Indiana County with its safe house destination – Blairsville. The Underground Rail Road Museum located in Blairsville is open year round and makes for great field trips, group outings and a backdrop for events. The Passport to Freedom is dedicated to the lives of brave men and women who believed that any type of slavery was wrong. At the risk of being fined and arrested, they willingly aided enslaved people in their quest to find safety and freedom. As these freedom seekers traveled north through Indiana County, they were sheltered and moved from one safe place to another. The "Rescue of 1858: Newton's Escape" occurred in Blairsville and is reenacted annually during the town's Diamond Days Celebration in August. The historic marker is located just west of the bandstand near the Conemaugh River. The McKims also served an important role on the Underground Railroad in the Western part of Pennsylvania, helping freedom seekers like Henry Brown make their way to safety as they overcame Southern enslavement.
John Heinz History Center – Pittsburgh
On the eve of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, free men from Arthursville, a community on the ridge above where the John Heinz History Center is today, met at the Monogahella hotel on what is now known as Smithfield Blvd. to discuss their fate. In the morning, 900 Black families left Pittsburgh for Canada. Today, the History Center keeps record of their stories. The John Heinz History Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the largest history museum in Pennsylvania. At the Heinz, you can find hundreds of artifacts and interactive experiences for visitors showcasing 250 years of the region's history. Also features traveling exhibits and the interactive Discovery Place for children. Stroll over to Heinz headquarters and view the plaque in honor of Jane Swisshelm a radical abolitionist and outspoken Civil War heroine. Dedicated to ending slavery, Swisshelm faced countless threats as editor of several radical abolitionist newspapers including the Pittsburgh Saturday Visitor. The History Center’s “Points in Time” exhibit includes information about the Underground Railroad, including displays and features a timeline of African-American history in Western PA. The History Center’s “Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom” tour examines the institutionalization and economy of slavery, the rise of abolitionist activism, and the roots of the Underground Railroad. Important underground routes through the region, conductors on the railroad, and notable historical sites are also presented. Sarah and James McKim would often make trips to Pittsburgh to participate in important Civil Rights cases. Sarah became well acquainted with Mary Peck Bond, an abolitionist African American woman who established a center for elderly African Americans in the region, in addition to being an Underground Railroad conductor.
LeMoyne House - Washington, PA
The LeMoyne House, in the City of Washington, is Pennsylvania’s first National Historic Landmark of the Underground Railroad. It was built in 1812 by John Julius LeMoyne, the father of Francis Julius LeMoyne, the successful 19th-century doctor, reformer and builder of the first crematory in the western hemisphere. He opened his home and properties as stops along the Underground Railroad as they trudged north on their precarious journey to Canada and freedom. The LeMoyne House is operated as a historic house museum by the Washington County Historical Society, which offers guided tours year round. The house contains period artifacts and is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne. It is designated as a historic public landmark by the Washington County History & Landmarks Foundation.
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 HereOmni William Penn - Pittsburgh
The super-comfortable accommodations of Omni William Penn have been attracting distinguished guests since 1916. During your overnight stay here, you’ll be tempted by award-winning food and spa treatments. But keep your eyes peeled - the hotel is rumored to be haunted. Try to sleep tight. Your next busy day on the road will be here before you know it.