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'Road to Freedom' video recounts Underground Railroad

September 02, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • A video recounting the history of escaped slaves using the Underground Railroad in the South Mountain region featured Thaddeus Stevens' blacksmith shop at Caledonia State Park, which has been designated as part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
By Roxann Miller

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. — A video recounting the history of escaped slaves using the Underground Railroad in the South Mountain region was unveiled Friday to educators and other community members at a private showing at Caledonia State Park.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau and the South Mountain Partnership's 15-minute DVD, titled "Road to Freedom," was shown to school administrators, library directors and others at the ranger station in the park off Pa. 30 in Fayetteville, Pa.

The video featured Thaddeus Stevens' blacksmith shop at Caledonia State Park, which has been designated as part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

"That was quite an impressive video," said C. Gregory Hoover, Greencastle-Antrim schools superintendent.

 He planned to meet with Greencastle school administrators and teachers to determine the best way to use the video.

 "I don't think people realize (what happened here). How many of us drive Rt. 30 to Gettysburg a couple times a year? You see Thaddeus Stevens (blacksmith shop) sitting there to the left, but you really don't know what took place there. So, much history took place there," Hoover said.

Shippensburg Area Middle School eighth grade teacher Nancy Bender liked the video for its "short, informative" format.

"It will hold the kids' attention, and it gives them what they need without a lot of fluff," Bender said.

She plans to use the DVD during her second semester when she teaches her students about the Civil War.

 "This area has so much history. But, the whole idea of the Underground Railroad is the people felt so desperate that they had to escape. They would put their lives on the line to try and gain the freedoms that so many of us take for granted," Bender said.

"These kids and even some adults don't think that people were owned by other people — and in America. This was part of our history, and we need to make sure we don't repeat it."

Janet Pollard, director of tourism and communication for the Franklin County Visitors Bureau, gave 36 complimentary copies of the video to those present at the private showing to share with the community.

The $20,000 DVD was paid for by a $10,000 grant from the South Mountain Partnership. The Franklin County Visitors Bureau paid about $10,000 in cash and in-kind matches.

 If you are a resident of Franklin County, Pollard said you owe it to yourself to learn about local history.

 "Because you pass it everyday, because you live beside it; you owe it to yourself and you owe it to your children to at least have an understanding of what made the area that you live in," Pollard said.

"These aren't just our local stories. These are stories of America's history, and as residents of this South Mountain region, it's a reason to understand the landscape you live in."

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