Contemporary reminisces and local tradition maintain that the East Nishnabotna Ferry crossing outside of Lewis, Iowa (Cass County) was utilized by freedom seekers and their guides on the Underground Railroad during the late 1850s. The ferry crossing was on the main state/post road between Des Moines [east] and Kanesville (Council Bluffs) [west]. This portion of the road was on the Jim Lane Trail and the Tabor to Springdale route of the Underground Railroad across Iowa. It was the only way to cross the river for many miles in both directions. One noteworthy incident occurred in February 1859, as John Brown, with the help of others, transported a dozen freedom seekers across the ferry. The river crossing is an appropriate place to commemorate this association with the Underground Railroad in Southwestern Iowa. Today, the Nishnabotna Ferry House property is owned by a local historical association. It is located across the river, approximately a quarter-mile east of the George B. Hitchcock House. The ferry keeper’s house is the only remaining structure from the period.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: 701 Minnesota Street, Lewis, 51544
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Cass County Mormon Trails Ass’n, Inc.
Location Type: Site
UGRR Operatives: George B. Hitchcock,John Brown