The Calumet region’s transportation networks have always attracted both businesses and individuals. While industries later used the region’s waterways and railway infrastructure, a different kind of transportation network was underway long before: the underground railroad.
At the modern-day south edge of the City of Chicago, the Cal-Sag channel flows east, following the path of the Little Calumet river. The Dolton Ferry was once located near the present-day Indiana Avenue bridge. The ferry was an important crossing for trails and stage line, and was later replaced by a bridge in 1842. Just north of this ferry was the farm of Jan and Aagie Ton. These farmers were Dutch immigrants who had arrived in 1849, and settled this land in 1853.
From the 1830s until the Civil War, those escaping enslavement fled into the Calumet region. From here, they moved on to Chicago, Detroit and Canada. This meant that freedom seekers were frequently using the ferry/bridge crossing. The Ton family, along with other early settlers, were a part of the Underground Railroad.
557 E. 134th Place Chicago, Illinois 60837
National Park Service Network to Freedom Underground Railroad
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
Jan and Aagje Ton Farm
Last updated: May 17, 2022