The Underground Railroad
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The artist shows hidden messages that, according to oral history, communicated to the slaves the route and timing for passage to freedom. For example, the quilts hanging on the split rail fence carried encoded messages as well as the Big Dipper constellation which showed fleeing slaves whose direction was north. Across the river and high on the bluff is the small house belonging to the Reverend John Rankin, a noted abolitionist and stationmaster conductor of the Underground Railroad.
A light in the window indicated the timing was safe for passage to the house. The escaping slaves’ freedom was still in jeopardy until they reached Canada.