Walking tours of Gettysburg’s only Underground Railroad (UGRR) site recognized by the National Park Service Freedom Network will begin Saturday, May 7 at 11 a.m., according to a statement from the Historic Preservation Society of Gettysburg–Adams County. . The public is invited to attend.
Tours of the site were first hosted by Historic Gettysburg-Adams County (HGAC) in the summer of 2011 and since then hundreds of visitors have enjoyed the unique opportunity to visit a rarely seen part and deprived of the battlefield. The walk to the mill from the historical marker in the parking lot is a somewhat strenuous round trip of about half a mile.
Tours depart from the historic marker at the south end of the old Mulligan MacDuffer Adventure Golf parking lot at 1360 Baltimore Pike in Gettysburg. The parking lot is at the intersection of Baltimore Pike and McAllister Mill Road. There is no need to make a reservation for the tour, and a guide will be on hand regardless of the weather.
“Just show up for the tour and enjoy an informative and enlightening walk through the woods,” the statement read.
Curt Musselman, McAllister’s Mill Underground Railroad tour coordinator of the Gettysburg-Adams County Historic Preservation Society (HGAC), said hour-long tours will be given by professional guides every Saturday. at 11 a.m. from May to August.
Suggested donations for the visit are $5 for students and $10 for adults. Everyone who joins the tour will receive an NPS Underground Railroad brochure in addition to a souvenir brochure for the McAllister’s Mill site which was created exclusively for HGAC and is illustrated with a map, photographs and artwork by historical artist Bradley Schmehl. Junior Ranger booklets and badges are available for students taking the tour.
The site, now a ruin with foundations and waterways still visible, was most likely one of the first stops made in Adams County by people seeking freedom on their escape north from slavery in South. About two miles south of Gettysburg and four miles north of the Mason-Dixon line, McAllister’s Mill was home to hundreds of freedom seekers in the years leading up to the Civil War.
After receiving help at the late 18th century grist mill, freedom seekers were guided north through Gettysburg in Upper Adams County to the homes of free African Americans and abolitionists Quakers, forming vital links in one of the first regional networks of the Underground Railroad in the nation.
The property now includes the remains of the mill building and related mill structures, all located amid large boulders that line Rock Creek in a densely wooded area where the mill once stood.
On July 4, 1836, McAllister’s Mill was the site of the first and major gathering of abolitionists in Pennsylvania. Chaired by mill owner and farmer James McAllister Jr., the group agreed to publish bold anti-slavery principles, allegedly drafted by a Gettysburg lawyer and later by US Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. This meeting led to the formation of the Adams County Anti-Slavery Society.
In 2011, the McAllister’s Mill site was accepted into the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom (UGRR NTF), which is a national collection of sites that have a verifiable association with the Underground Railroad. For more information about the Network to Freedom, see the NPS website at www.nps.gov/history/ugrr/.
Donations made to HGAC will support HGAC’s preservation activities, including the upkeep of the beautifully restored GAR Hall at 53 E. Middle St., Gettysburg. The McAllister’s Mill site is private property and not open to the public. However, those interested in the history of the Underground Railroad at the site will be able to join these tours organized as fundraisers by HGAC.
For more information on weekly tours or to make special arrangements, call McAllister’s Mill UGRR Tours at 717-659-8827. The attached image (UGRRtourgroupAtRockCreekFord.jpg)