CAIRO – 23 February 2022: Archaeologists and historians have discovered new insights about the underground railroad and the people who risked their lives to escape slavery in 19th century America.
Using technologies such as thermal drones and laser pulses, scientists peered through overgrown and underground vegetation to find tunnels, caves, and shelters that provided respite and escape routes for slaves along the perilous journey to freedom.
Many freedom seekers fleeing slavery in the United States found difficult ways to achieve freedom through a system of secret roads, safe houses, and hidden road stations known as railroad subways.
This escape network operated from approximately 1830 until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 and originated during the brutal period in the United States when whites in southern states routinely kidnapped, tortured, and enslaved Africans and their American-born descendants.
Since secrecy was critical to ensuring the safety of freedom seekers and keeping the roads open, many details surrounding the underground rail networks were thought to be lost.
However, recent archaeological discoveries and new analyzes of historical archives shed light on the individuals who dug and followed the secret routes where their stories were revealed in the new four-part documentary series "Underground Railroad: The Secret History," which first appeared on January 30 on the Science channel.
The routes along the underground railway line often followed natural waterways as well as man-made roads and paths. It led from the places of slavery in the south to the northern and western states where slavery was illegal.
Freedom seekers also used these escape routes to Canada, Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Some well-known underground rail destinations are now recognized as historic landmarks such as Jackson Homestead in Newton, Massachusetts, and Bethel AME Church in Greenwich Township, New Jersey.