Milton, Wis. home to Underground Railroad stop

Posted at 6:57 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 12:43:41-05

The Underground Railroad was a system of safe houses that served as refuges for slaves trying to make their way north to freedom. One stop was the Milton House Inn which was built by Joseph Goodrich in 1844.

Goodrich was a 7th Day Baptist and abolitionist who was very secretive about harboring slaves.

Doug Welch assistant director of the Milton House Museum said legend has it, Goodrich told one of his workers to drive a wagon and its supplies to Elkhorn.

"He heard rustling. He heard whispers. He knew somebody was back there. Kept going. He stopped at the Inn as instructed. Went in and had a meal. Came back hour, hour and a half later and he drove the team of horses and wagon back, and he was certain there was nobody in the back," said Welch.

When slaves first arrived at the Milton Inn they were snuck inside a cabin just like the one that sits behind the current Inn.

The runaway slaves were ushered into a trap door which led to an underground tunnel. The tunnel was about four feet high and slaves had to crawl through the dark not knowing what was on the other side.

Once they got through the tunnel they found themselves in a room underneath the Inn. There they received food and hay or a pallet to sleep on. They would wait there until another form of transportation would come to take them to their next stop.

Welch said some museum visitors re-live those moments in the tunnel. "We have people who've actually dropped to their knees and crawled the 70 feet from the cabin into this room just so they can replicate what somebody would've gone through. When you see that it just kind of brings it home how important this site is and how rare it is."

The Milton House Museum is the only certified Underground Railroad site in Wisconsin that can be toured.

For more information about tours and visiting the Milton House Museum click or tap here.