Underground Railroad Days celebrate Cass County history
VANDALIA, Mich. -- Underground Railroad Days in Cass County are days to celebrate the area's history. The county has 19 sites on the Underground Railroad. Some of those are open for visitors.
Friday will kick off the weekend of events with a documentary on the Kentucky Raid of 1847. It will be shown at the Ross-Beatty High School at 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday will have activities all day in the Village of Vandalia. There will be Kentucky Raid tours, Civil War encampment, craft demonstrations and much more.
"We're having a lot more activities this year for children," said Village of Vandalia President Beverly Young. "We'll be having train rides and horses and the soul food dinner."
The celebration is important for the small community.
"It means a lot being that we only have a population of 301," said Young. "To have 2000 people in the village is really wonderful."
This is the 9th year the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County has put on Underground Railroad Days. Last year 2000 people attended the event. The society expects at least that many people again this year.
"This seems to have a destiny of its own," said Cathy LaPointe with the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County. "It just keeps growing."
LaPointe says a main attraction during Underground Railroad Days is the bus tours the society provides. Each bus tour makes stops at local Underground Railroad sites.
This year, two new sites will be available for visitors. Those include the recently donated Bogue house, home of well-known Underground Railroad Conductor Stephen Bogue. That home allows visitors to step into the attic where freedom seekers hid.
The second floor of the carriage house at the Bonine home is also available this year. Freedom seekers were kept on the third floor of the carriage house. LaPointe says they hope to have that floor open next year.
LaPointe says stepping into the history that still has deep roots in the community means a lot for those living there.
"For the community it's a whole new sense of pride of place," she said. "The kids being involved with the wax museums and involving their families, their parents and grandparents, I think people have just a real sense of pride in their heritage."