HANOVERTON, Ohio (WKBN) – They would hide by day and run by night.
Dave Johnson owns the Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton. It’s one of several buildings in town where slaves hid for their lives in the 1800s.
A reconstructed tunnel in the basement of the tavern gives you an idea of what slaves used just down the street.
“There was a tunnel underneath the street that connected these two houses where slaves were taken from one house to the other,” Johnson said, pointing to nearby homes.
On Plymouth Street in Hanoverton, pretty much every building is somehow connected to the Underground Railroad.
The idea was never to be seen on the dangerous road to freedom.
One of the key houses that was part of the Underground Railroad had a smokehouse around back where slaves were hidden in a room underneath the smokehouse. It has been said when bounty hunters would come to town, they’d move the slaves down into that room then start the fire above it.
There would be smoke billowing out of the smokehouse so no one would know what was underneath.
Johnson estimates that they helped hundreds, if not thousands, of slaves eventually gain their freedom.
It took an entire town to make it possible.
As for the Spread Eagle Tavern, it’s open for lunch and dinner.
Johnson said if he’s there when you stop by, he’ll take you on a mini-tour of the historic tavern.
It’s located at 10150 Plymouth Street.