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Underground Railroad Tours Are Back!

Walking tours of Gettysburg’s only Underground Railroad (UGRR) Site recognized by the National Park Service’s “Network to Freedom” will begin on Saturday, May 1st at 11:00 a.m and everyone is invited to attend. The McAllister’s Mill UGRR Tours were cancelled last year due to the COVID pandemic, but all of the tour guides have received their COVID vaccinations and the tours will be conducted out of doors in the open air with social distancing being encouraged.

Curt Musselman, the McAllister’s Mill Underground Railroad Tour Coordinator of the Historic Preservation Society of Gettysburg – Adams County (HGAC), announced today that one-hour tours will be given by professional guides every Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m, from May through August. Tours leave from the historical marker at the south end of the former Mulligan MacDuffer Adventure Golf parking lot at 1360 Baltimore Pike in Gettysburg, PA. The parking lot is at the intersection of the Baltimore Pike and the McAllister Mill Road. It is not necessary to make a reservation for the tour. Just show up for the tour and enjoy an informative, enlightening walk in the woods.

The site, now a ruin with foundations and waterways still visible, was most probably one of the first stops made in Adams County by people seeking freedom on their flight north from slavery in the South. About two miles south of Gettysburg, PA and six miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line, McAllister’s Mill provided shelter to hundreds of freedom seekers during the years leading up to the Civil War. After receiving assistance at the late 18th century grist mill, the formerly enslaved were guided north through Gettysburg into Upper Adams County to the homes of free African Americans and Quaker Abolitionists, forming critical links in one of the earliest regional networks of the Underground Railroad in the nation. The property now includes remnants of the mill building and related mill structures, all set 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 an early and significant gathering of Abolitionists in Pennsylvania.  Chaired by mill owner and farmer James McAllister, Jr., the group agreed to publish bold anti-slavery principles, which were reportedly ghostwritten by Gettysburg attorney and later U.S. 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 nationwide collection of sites that have a verifiable association to the Underground Railroad. For more information on the Network to Freedom, please consult the NPS website at www.nps.gov/history/ugrr/.

The first tours of the site were given by HGAC during the summer of 2011 and since then, hundreds of visitors have taken advantage of the unique opportunity to visit a rarely seen part of the battlefield. The walk to the mill from the historical marker at the parking lot is a somewhat strenuous, approximately one-half mile round trip. Suggested donations for the tour are $5 for students and $10 for adults. Everyone who comes on the tour will receive an NPS Underground Railroad brochure in addition to a souvenir brochure for the McAllister’s Mill Site that was created exclusively for HGAC and that is generously illustrated with a map, photographs and the art of historical artist Bradley Schmehl. Junior Ranger booklets and badges are available for students who participate in the tour.

Donations made to HGAC will support HGAC’s preservation activities including maintenance of the beautifully restored GAR Hall at 53 East Middle Street in Gettysburg. The McAllister’s Mill site is privately owned and is not open to the public.  However, persons interested in the story of the Underground Railroad at the site will be able to join these tours that are conducted as fund-raisers by HGAC.

For more information about the weekly tours, or to make special arrangements, please call McAllister’s Mill UGRR Tours at 717-659-8827.

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