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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rogues' Harbor Inn, Underground Railroad Station

Local legend adamantly claims the Rogues' Harbor Inn was a station on the Underground Railroad. It is said that there was a tunnel which ran from the Inn to Cayuga Lake; slaves bound for freedom would pass through the tunnel on their way to Canada...It is very difficult to document something which was a secret (lives depended on secrecy), but many historians, town of Lansing residents and the Inn's owner have spent hours searching for clues because we all believe the legend.
*Here's what we have found so far. The map below drawn in 1898 by William Seibert has Lansing along a route from Elmira to Ithaca to Lansing to Auburn to Oswego. There are many well documented stations along this route including a number private homes in Elmira, the St. James Zion Church in Ithaca, and Harriet Tubman's home in Auburn. The Rogues' Harbor Inn (then the Central Exchange Hotel) would have been an ideal spot along that route to stop, geographically as well as logistically- an extra wagon unloaded, an extra meal or two prepared would have gone un-noticed. Furthermore, the builder of the Rogues' Harbor Inn, General Daniel Minier, was the Chairman of the Free Soil Party in Lansing. His family was acquainted with the Seward family in Auburn (Mrs. Seward was an active Abolitionist) and General Minier's family came from Elmira, a hot bed of UGRR stations, where many close family close members still maintained a farm and homestead. A later owner of the Inn, Harvey Platts, signed an Abolitionist petition with many other area residents.
*We're still working on the tunnel aspect of the legend...
******but it seems likely that the Inn was part of the Underground Railroad. If anyone has information regarding this aspect of the Inn's history, please share it with us. We would really like to transform this legend to fact.