SALEM, Ohio (WYTV) – For the past ten years, the Salem Historical Society has been offering underground railroad trolley tours. Saturday marked the first tour to be offered in the winter.
“From history, we learn things we’ve done well and things we’ve done poorly, and that we want to avoid making the same mistakes over again,” said Historical Society President Ginger Grilli.
Grilli is also the lead tour guide at the Salem Historical Society.
On Saturday, she led the Underground Railroad: Escape to Freedom tour through town.
This year, thanks to a new trolley, the tours are offered year-round, which comes with an advantage.
“We decided we would offer this tour in the winter because you actually get a better view of some of the houses when the trees are not in bloom,” Grilli said.
The tour looks at 14 buildings in Salem, all with ties to the Underground Railroad or Abolitionist Movement.
The most famous is a building known as Unserheim, which was the home of Daniel Howell Hise, one of the primary conductors of the Underground Railroad activities in Northeast Ohio.
“You’ll read in the literature many people coming and going from his home, and he was involved in conversations and supervising the work of the volunteers,” said Grilli.
Among other facts, riders learned Sojourner Truth lived in Salem for two years. Plus, a major newspaper “The Anti-Slavery Bugle” was printed in Salem and sent across the country.
“There’s no absolute number of people who escaped during that time period. It ranges anywhere from ten thousands to hundreds of thousands of people. The truth probably lies somewhere in between,” Grilli said.