It is embarrassing to admit, but I was twenty-one before I realized that the Underground Railroad wasn’t literally an underground railroad.
Before realizing this, I marveled at how anyone was able to use this successfully. I mean, an underground railroad would require an awful lot of tunnel digging, track laying, and then to get a train down there. And then there is the noise of the train. I just couldn’t figure out how the slave owners wouldn’t know about such a loud, large endeavor. Not to mention that the train could only run along the one place where its tracks are. So once it was discovered, then what? I knew the slaves were desperate to escape, but this didn’t seem like the best way, yet the history books talked about how well it worked. I figured that the slave owners must not have been very bright.
While in Michigan for an Undergraduate Research conference (yes, I was doing biology research at the time, if you can believe that!), I had the opportunity to take a tour of a house that had been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Wow, did I feel foolish when I realized my error!
I am so thankful that they were not stuck to a track underground!
Oh, the joys of being a literal thinker!