I’m a big fan of being a tourist in your own backyard. There are so many not-so-hidden treasures in Wisconsin that I have yet to discover. So a couple of weeks ago, my partner and I decided to do some exploring! Our first stop was Milton House Museum in Milton, Wisconsin.
While the tour of the house and grounds are interesting in and of themselves, the main attraction of the site is the Underground Railroad tunnel. Goodrich grew up as an active member in the Seventh Day Baptist Church, which made clear its anti-slavery stances in several resolutions. Goodrich’s involvement in the Church continued throughout his life and was a great influence on his abolitionist activities. It is believed that fugitive slaves would enter the log cabin and go down through a trap door into the tunnel that led to the basement of the inn. Once in the basement, the Goodrich family would provide them with food and safety until they were ready to move on. The tunnel is believed to have been constructed in 1845 when the house was completed and was originally only large enough for a person to crawl or duck through. It was enlarged and reinforced in 1954 to accommodate visitors to the museum. It was really amazing to walk through this tunnel and imagine the feelings and fears that people felt on their way to the relative safety of the inn basement.
“He was an uncompromising friend and advocate of the cause of temperance, and of human rights. The poor and oppressed were received by him as a legacy of the Lord…” –Written of Goodrich after his death in 1867 in “The Wisconsin State Journal”
We enjoyed the tunnel the most but also appreciated all of the antiques that Tabitha showed us, from toys to household appliances to Civil War memorabilia. We really left with an appreciation for the Goodriches and the role they played in Wisconsin abolitionist history. Overall, this was a wonderful tour and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Wisconsin or Underground Railroad history.
- Arrive a few minutes early to ensure you get a tour at the time you prefer.
- Allow one hour for the tour and some additional time to take photos of the grounds.
- Photos are not allowed inside the museum except in the entry.
- There are some stairs leading to the second floor as well as those leading into the basement.
- Admission fee was $8 per adult.
- A gift shop is on the grounds.
- Don’t touch any of the artifacts but ask plenty of questions!
- Have lunch at Milwaukee Grill in nearby Janesville. Voted best restaurant in Janesville!
- Spend the afternoon at the Rotary Botanical Gardens also in Janesville. (A separate blog post is coming about these beautiful gardens!)
Have you been to any sites on the Underground Railroad? Do you like visiting historical sites? Comment below with your favorites!