the Underground Railroad
money to launch
Underground Railroad campaign
MADISON, Ind. (November 2004) Eleutherian College,
a National Historic Landmark in Lancaster, Ind., will become one of
three major hubs in a new initiative to promote the Underground Railroad
history in southern Indiana. The 17-county effort received a financial
boost Oct. 28 from the Indiana Department Commerce when Lt. Gov. Kathy
Davis announced that the Indiana Underground Railroad Coalition-Interpretive
Centers had been awarded a $89,600 grant to help fund the project.
The money was part of a $600,000 Quality of Place initiative
announced by Davis to help support 11 tourism projects statewide.
by Don Ward
Tourism plays a significant role in Hoosier communities
and the states economy, said Davis, who leads the Indiana
Department of Commerce, in which the states tourism department
is housed. As we raise the profile of Indiana as a travel destination,
we must help communities make needed improvements and additions that
contribute to their quality of life.
The college, founded in 1848 and recognized for its part in educating
and harboring free blacks in the pre-Civil War period, will join the
state-owned Levi Coffin House in Fountain City, Ind., and the Carnegie
Center for Art & History in New Albany as hubs on the Underground
Railroad tour route, officials said.
The eight-room, Federal style brick Levi Coffin House harbored runaway
slaves on their way to Canada. It was purchased in 1967 by the state
and is now a National Historic Landmark. The Carnegie Center is a contemporary
gallery and history museum offering many exhibits in a variety of media.
With the grant money, a coordinator can now be hired to organize and
develop research into promotional literature and a driving tour to help
attract people to the sites, especially those visiting the newly opened
Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati, said Melanie
Maxwell, who wrote the grant.
Maxwell began meeting with representatives from each site, along with
southern Indiana tourism directors Linda Lytle of Jefferson County,
Katherine Taul of Ripley County, Susan Walters of Jennings County, plus
Elbert Hinds, an Eleutherian College board member, Betsey Vonderheide,
special projects administrator for the City of Madison, and others.
This is great news for everyone involved, said Maxwell of
Greensburg, Ind. It means we will now have the money to move forward
on promoting these sites and give us a solid representation at the new
Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati.
The group has already approached Underground Railroad researcher Orloff
Miller of Cincinnati to serve as the coordinator and he has agreed to
do so, Maxwell said. Orloff was a consultant on the Freedom Center Museum.
The group will also get research assistance from Jeannie Regan-Dinius
of the Indiana DNRs Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.
The group had requested $92,000 in its initial grant request. The money
it received will help get the project rolling but additional fund raising
will be necessary to produce literature and exhibits for display at
the three hub sites, Maxwell said.
Lytle agreed to have the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
serve as the financial agent for the project. She attended the grant
award ceremony in New Albany.
Were absolutely delighted, said Hinds. By tying
in with the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, we hope to bring even more
exposure to the college.
He said the college already had received some visitors who had learned
of the site through the brochures at the museum in Cincinnati. Things
are beginning to happen and this is a great start for us.
In addition to the Underground Railroad grant, Jefferson, Switzerland
and Ohio counties will benefit from another grant of $48,750 that was
announced to support the Ohio River Scenic Route of Southern Indiana
to help establish and market Hoosier Crafted artisans.
This effort, similar to the Kentucky Crafted marketing program, will
brand items made by Hoosier artisans and encompass 13 counties along
the Ohio River Scenic Byway.
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