Trail Rides Along the Underground Railroad Make a Good Day Trip
by Henry Burke
July 14, 1999
Copyright 1999. Henry Robert Burke, Marietta, Ohio
There are happenings in the Mid-Ohio River Valley concerning the Ohio Underground Railroad.
On Saturday, July 10, 1999, I guided two ladies. Ms. Darleen Innis and Ms. Joy Miller-Upton on a day-long trip of the Underground Railroad trail from Marietta to Fairview, which is located at the 198 milemark on I-70 near Barnsville.
Both ladies have ridden their horses on other trails of Ohio?s Underground Railroad, but now they are interested in riding the Underground Railroad trail through rural Washington, Noble, Monroe and Belmont counties.
Though I have made this trip hundreds or perhaps even thousands of times, this was the first time I had done so such a leisurely pace. At each Station, we stopped, snooped around and discussed different aspects of the Underground Railroad.
We began at the mouth of Duck Creek in Marietta and proceeded through Caywood toward Stanleyville. It was a gorgeous day with the temperature of 80 degrees. At Stanleyville we took Washington County Road 42 past the Pleasant Ridge Church and over to by the cave on Gaylord Layton?s property. Regrettably I am not able to walk down to the cave, so I was only able to point out where it is located.
From there we proceeded a few miles further to the former Jewett Palmer Station located near Germantown. After spending some time discussing the activities that went on at the Palmer Station, we moved on north toward the Stafford Station. I had not taken this trip for several years, and I could not help but notice beautiful new houses and farms located on Washington County Road 11. There was also the spectacular view of the rugged hills and deep valleys that are typical of southeastern Ohio.
We passed by Road Fork, at the junction of Ohio Routes 145 and 260 in Elk Township of Noble County. This is the place that my fugitive slave great-great-grandfather John Curtis and his two brothers stopped and hid from bounty hunters in 1846. A few miles up the road we visited the old Ross Curtis house located on Ohio Route145 a couple of miles below Stafford. This old house smells like Underground Railroad. One can visualize fugitive slaves arriving at dawn and leaving after dark.
A few hundred feet from the Ross Curtis house is what is left of the Reverend Joseph Markey?s house. I had thought that this house had fallen in, but a few boards are still standing in testimony that this place too was once a Station House on the Underground Railroad! It has bared it secret cellar where fugitive slaves once were hidden from searching bounty hunters.
Then we traveled up Sutton?s Hollow, which looks very much like it did during the Underground Railroad Era, except now it is covered with a thin layer of crushed limestone. Then on to the former John Curtis farm. The memories came flooding back about the tragic runaway horse accident along the Underground Railroad, that killed my uncle, Ed Curtis, while I helplessly watched back in 1951.
We visited the Stafford Cemetery where Underground Railroad Conductor and Civil War Veteran John Curtis is buried. By now it was time for lunch so we stopped by the Stafford Park where African American settlers had stayed when they first arrived in Stafford in 1849.
After a very good lunch, we headed over to Summerfield, back in Noble County, where we visited the grave sites of Thomas and William Horton and the Calland Family, who were Abolitionists in Summerfield.
We drove through Summerton in Belmont county, where a black community and Underground Railroad Station called Guinea once existed. Then on to the Judge Collins Underground Railroad Station in Barnesville. Unfortunately my longtime friend and present owner of the place, Mr. Tom Welch, was away fishing in Michigan.
Finally we traveled a few miles more over to Fairview on I-70. More memories about the years I spent reclaiming the strip-mined land, now a large ranch operated by the Dickinson Cattle Company. This was the end of the line for that southeastern Ohio Underground Railroad trail. We took I-70 west to Cambridge, and I-77 south back to Marietta.
The planned horseback trail ride is planned slated to begin in the latter part of August. For details on how you can participate in part or all of the this exciting trail ride, please contact Mrs. Angie Scott at the Marietta Tourist and Convention Bureau (740) 373-5178 for details.
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Henry Burke is a historian who speciaizes in Afro-American history and the Underground Railroad. His column appears each week in the Marietta Leader.
Henry Robert Burke
The General Benjamin D. Fearing Sons of Union Civil War Veterans Camp #2 (Historian), and the
OHIO BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION'S Underground Railroad and Civil War Advisory Councils
Phone: (740) 373-3125