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William Goodridge

William Goodridge made his place in history as an entrepreneur, social organizer and advocate for civil rights in his time. In addition to being one of the most successful men, of any color, in Pennsylvania, he risked it all to help freedom seekers along the underground railroad reach safe destinations in the North. Your journey along his roadtrip will take you to memorials and museums dedicated to Goodridge's legacy as well as sites that mark the times that he lived through.

The William Goodridge Freedom House & Underground Railroad Museum

Visit the home of William C. Goodridge, one of the area's most active Underground Railroad stationmasters. A prominent African-American businessman in York, Goodridge built the tallest building of its time in York City, and often hosted anti-slavery meetings with noted abolitionists. Goodridge’s history was linked to a legacy of leadership that spanned the Pennsylvania railroad lines from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. He worked in a variety of fields during his life, but the one most connected with the Quest for Freedom involved Goodridge's work with the railroad industry — the Goodridge Reliance Line comprised 13 railroad cars serving 20 Pennsylvania communities. Goodridge used his rail cars with false bottoms to transport freedom seekers along the Underground Railroad. Goodridge also hid them inside his house, in a secret room in the basement, and in a straw lined trench located under a building at the back of his house. Among those helped by Goodridge was Osborne Perry Anderson, one of John Brown's Harpers Ferry raiders who escaped to Chambersburg on foot. From there he turned to the Underground Railroad for safety. Goodridge, hid him in York. Anderson eventually escaped to Canada. Today his home still stands as evidence to the drive and ambition necessary for a Black man in his time to build the kind of wealth and standing that Goodridge possessed in the York community, but also as a testament to the extreme humanity he exhibited through selfless acts as he risked his own life to guide those escaping the horrors of slavery. Don’t forget to also check out the Goodridge mural a short distance away on West Market Street. Self-guided and guided tours are available.

York County Heritage Trust Museum

This museum and library holds artifacts and documents tied to Goodridge’s contributions to York’s industrial development. In addition, archives in their library provide evidence of the legacy of his life and work throughout all sectors of daily life. Exhibits range from York's Native American settlers through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and into the early 20th century. The building, constructed in 1921 as an automobile dealership, still has the original showroom floor in the spacious two-story entrance hall. In the lobby is the 1804 Tannenburg organ, still played for seasonal concerts. This building also houses the main offices for the York County Heritage Trust. Of particular interest are the Cassandra Small displays. Cassandra Small was the daughter of leading York County merchant P.A. Small, and she left behind the most complete and revealing first-person account of the Confederate occupation of York in her letters to her cousin Lissie Latimer.

Agricultural and Industrial Museum – York

With his entrepreneurial spirit, Goodridge was a major contributor to York’s economy. Whether it was his shops or his railroad line, it’s hard to find a piece of York’s past that wasn’t tied to him. The Industrial and Agricultural Museum is a set of historic buildings housing York County's rich industrial and agricultural heritage. It holds exhibits that show the history of the industries that made York an international name in manufacturing, as well as the area's agricultural giants that inspired their machinery. York County's Agricultural and Industrial Museum features hands-on exhibits of industrial artifacts dating from the early 19th century to the present. The Museum offers a fine series of Family Programs called 'Lunch and Learn' and workshops with plenty of hands-on activities that get kids, 3-11 years old, involved. Programs last four hours. Several other exhibits are available. This museum also includes a Gift Shop, a large Atrium and Lobby for private events, and an old-fashioned Ice Cream Parlor. This museum offers the opportunity to see and sometimes handle the 'real thing.' A visit is exciting and a family or group could easily spend hours exploring all the things of yesteryear. Self-guided tours are ongoing; guided tours can be arranged for groups.

Hanover Junction - York County

Hanover Junction Train Station, linked William Goodridge’s family line to other rail lines across Central PA. The junction was a major telegraph office where African American Thomas Chester, first Black war correspondent of the Civil War, filed his reports on the adventures of the Army of the Potomac. It also linked important routes for the transport of wounded soldiers from Gettysburg to hospitals in Harrisburg, York, and other locations. A huge rotating disk would meet trains heading east or west, and rotate them to tracks heading north or south. Stand on the platform, now a stop for bikers on the York Rail Trail pathway, and imagine the hustle and bustle of 19th century travelers speeding from place to place, many of them freedom seekers in search of a safe haven. It was also here at this junction that President Abraham Lincoln changed trains en route to Gettysburg to deliver the Gettysburg Address.

Eat Here
Roosevelt Tavern - York

This historic family-owned and operated restaurant is located on the corner of Philadelphia and Penn Streets, in the city of York. Open for lunch and dinner, Roosevelt Tavern offers delicious soups, appetizers and entrées.

Sleep Here
The Yorktowne Hotel – York

Within walking distance of various attractions, this prominent landmark reflects the history of another nostalgic era, the roaring twenties. Built in 1925, The Yorktowne Hotel stands 11 stories tall in the heart of downtown York’s historic neighborhood. Twenty foot high ceilings, ornate chandeliers, and wood paneling welcome you as you enter the lobby of The Yorktowne Hotel.

First National Bank Museum – Columbia

This Heritage site, built in 1814, retains the original teller's cage and bank vault from the 19th century and is the only known bank still preserved in its original setting in the United States. William Whipper and Steven Smith, both successful African-American businessmen, kept accounts at the First National Bank. Funds from these accounts assisted Africans along the Underground Railroad. The Old Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge
was financed by First National Bank. It was once the main passageway between Columbia (known as the Gateway to the West) and Wrightsville and was burned on June 28, 1863, when Columbia residents and Union soldiers fleeing the Confederacy set the bridge ablaze to prevent the Confederate advance toward Philadelphia. Ironically, newly trained United States Colored Troops from Philadelphia’s Camp William Penn were on site to dig defense trenches and participated in both the defense first and then the burning of the bridge. Prior to that, railcars owned by William Whipper and Steven Smith crossed the Susquehanna River via the bridge with hidden freedom seekers.

Zion Hill Cemetery – Columbia

This cemetery is the final resting place of many soldiers who fought with the eleven United States Colored Troop regiments trained at Camp William Penn during the Civil War. Among those buried there are also African Americans who distinguished themselves with the legendary Massachusetts 5th, 54th and 55th regiments immortalized in the film Glory. USCT soldiers and free men in the Black militia fought against Confederate troops advancing along the Wrightsville-Columbia Bridge. Among those buried at Zion Hill is Robert Loney, a Civil War soldier and conductor on the Underground Railroad whose own family was among the first group of enslaved people to be freed in the early 1800s.

The Chambersburg Heritage Center - Chambersburg

The Heritage Center is an excellent starting point for exploration of the region, particularly its history. This historic building located on the southeast corner of Chambersburg’s Memorial Square in the National Historic District is a renovated 1915 marble bank building. The Chambersburg Heritage Center serves as an interpretive center for Franklin County, focusing on frontier, architecture, Underground Railroad, Civil War, and transportation history. The Chambersburg Heritage Tour focuses on the unique role the area played in the war against slavery. Featured destinations in this tour include sites associated with John Brown's Harpers Ferry Raid, such as the house where he stayed and the meeting place between Brown and Frederick Douglass, as well as the Quaker abolitionist Wertz Farm, an Underground Railroad site.

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, at left, depicts the climactic conclusion of the battle when the Union line turned back a determined Confederate assault. Ironically, parts of the battleground were owned by African American free man Basil Biggs and Abraham Brein as well as Quaker pacifists and Mennonite consciousness objectors. 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 this panorama.

Eat Here
Stock's on 2nd - Harrisburg

Stock's is a well-known favorite of the Harrisburg dining scene. The cuisine is eclectic American fare with Asian and Southeastern influences. The granite bar features Harrisburg's first martini bar, well complemented by the high ceilings, exhibition kitchen, and mahogany woodwork. And if the weather is right, take your meal and drinks outside on Stock's sidewalk seating.

Sleep Here
Hilton - Harrisburg

The Hilton is conveniently located at the south end of Restaurant Row with plenty of options for breakfast in the morning. Notice on the far corner outside the hotel, one of the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails Gateway Signs, one of six placed throughout the many counties of Civil War Trails. Get some rest. Big roadtripping days are ahead.