PORTAGE COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – Another piece of American history was unveiled in Northeast Ohio.
Governor Mike DeWine and dignitaries showcased a historical marker that will forever be displayed at the Portage Service plaza of the Ohio State Turnpike, at milepost 197, which was formerly part of the Underground Railroad.
The site of the new plaque, which is one of four to be installed at Ohio turnpike plazas, is at a place where an estimated 22 million people visit annually. Now, they will all be able to read a story rich in history that’s about triumph, courage and freedom.
“I can just envision families coming here and stopping in, looking at this plaque. I know Fran and I do that when we travel across the country. We see a lot of plaques and this is really an amazing story,” said Governor DeWine.
Northeast Ohio played an important part in the abolitionist movement and in the Underground Railroad during the mid-19th century.
Ohio had the most active network in the secret railway, with approximately 3000 miles of routes running from the Ohio River to Lake Erie.
Nelson said, “It’s because of the way the state is positioned it’s between to Quaker states, Indiana and Pennsylvania you’ve got to slave states to the south Kentucky and Virginia and then Ohio River which was called freedom river those crossing that river would find shelter in those whose mind said was abolition,” said Cathy Nelson, founder and president emeritus of the Friends of Freedom Society.
The Friends of Freedom Society has studied and researched Ohio’s role in the Underground Railroad over the past two decades.