Indiana Landmarks recently announced it would provide a $5,000 grant to the Calumet Heritage Partnership (CHP) through their Black Heritage Preservation Project, to help fund CHP’s and the Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project’s joint venture in identifying and documenting the Underground Railroad trail through Northwest Indiana.
Through research and community engagement, the Underground Railroad Project seeks to describe two major streams of movement used by freedom seekers through the region, and to identify significant sites along these routes that are connected to their journeys – eventually listing them on the National Parks Service’s (NPS) National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Among other objectives, they’ll also recommend sites for historic markers, interpretive materials, potential exhibits, and develop connections beyond Northwest Indiana as part of a larger Chicago to Detroit Freedom Trail. You can learn more about this project’s ambitions at calumetheritage.org/freedom-trail.
The effort is a continuation of the Underground Railroad Project’s work in Illinois, where several years ago they identified the Jan and Aagje Ton Farm site as a stop along the Underground Railroad’s trail in what is now a part of Chicago’s far South Side. Thanks to funding from the NPS, a marker now notes the significance of the site, and the NPS lists it on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
Gary Johnson, CHP’s board president, applauds the efforts of his fellow board member – the Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project’s Tom Shepherd – and his colleague, retired professor Larry McClellan: “Of all the stories of perseverance that exist in the Calumet Heritage Area, none are more significant than those that help us understand the risks people took to flee slavery, and of the people who helped them on that difficult journey. This is critical work that Tom and Larry have taken on, and what they’ve achieved so far speaks to their own perseverance, and their dedication to unearthing and interpreting an important part of our history.”
About CHP: The mission of the Calumet Heritage Partnership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is to identify, preserve, and interpret the natural, industrial, labor, and other cultural assets of the Calumet Region to advance economic opportunity and enrich the lives of its residents and of visitors from across the nation. For more information, visit calumetheritage.org.
About the CHA: The Calumet is a region of diverse communities, innovative industries, and resilient ecosystems. To highlight the region’s significance, partners are working to create a Calumet Heritage Area (CHA). The CHA will bring people together across state lines to conserve natural and cultural heritage, improve recreational opportunities, promote regional arts, support sustainable economic development, and create heritage-oriented educational programing. Learn more at calumetheritagearea.org.
Indiana Landmarks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supported by members and led by a volunteer board, with a main office in Indianapolis and nine regional offices, staffed by professionals, who help people save and revitalize historic places. Learn more at indianalandmarks.org.