WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – A local museum honoring slaves who escaped to freedom and those that helped them has officially opened its doors in the East.
The Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum held its grand opening Thursday.
Dozens filed into the iconic downtown caboose to learn about the town’s rich history in abolitionism.
As early as 1821, Washington was known as a destination for helping the enslaved escape to freedom. Slaves would travel to Washington and hide among freed slaves then get on a ship and travel as far as Maine, Philadelphia, and even Canada.
The museum’s founder Leesa Jones discovered Washington’s link to the Underground Railroad while writing a book for her grandchildren about their ancestors.
“It won’t be just a story to them,” Jones said. “They’ll understand how people helping people helped people get from that waterfront to their freedom.”
The exhibits include documentation confirming the waterfront as an underground railroad site, ads for selling and buying slaves, different codes used by slaves and much more.
The town of Washington and the Washington Harbor District Alliance were partners on the project.
In 2014, the National Park Service designated the waterfront as one of six Underground Railroad sites in eastern North Carolina.
The museum is open to the public Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is free.