Secret Rooms in the Underground Railroad Network

Secret Rooms in the Underground Railroad Network

February is Black History Month, and we here at Covert Concepts honor the contributions of all African-Americans to this great country. The history of the United States is marked with amazing achievements, and also unbelievable sorrow. This week our interest in secret rooms takes us back to the middle of the nineteenth century and the Underground Railroad.

When you hear Underground Railroad, who is the first person that comes to mind? Likely, it’s Harriet Tubman. She was an absolutely amazing woman. She was born into slavery and escaped, only to return several times to the South to help others escape, as well. She used a network of paths and safe houses with hidden rooms to move rescued slaves North.

The homeowner of one such house in Pennsylvania found a hidden room they believe to be part of the Underground Railroad. I can’t imagine what this family must have felt when they discovered this piece of history. The basement of their home was cracking and needed repairs so they hired a contractor to fix it. As workers dug to fix the walls, they were surprised to find a secret room buried deep underneath the house – 14 feet beneath the basement to be exact. The large room is 15 feet long and 6 to 8 feet wide.


Secret rooms can be used for anything, and this is no exception. In our last post, we talked about Little John and priest hiding holes. This room, and many similar ones that were part of the Underground Railroad network, were also used for hiding people.

It’s possible the hidden room found beneath the Pennsylvania home was actually used for hiding gold or some other kind of storage, but it really could have been part of the Underground Railroad. Men, women, and children escaped the horrors of slavery by hiding in small secret rooms just like the one uncovered in Pennsylvania.

If you put yourself in nineteenth century Pennsylvania, would you join this network and have a secret room in your house? What about twenty-first century homes? What would you do with a secret room?