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DeWine Unveils Underground Railroad Historical Markers Along Ohio Turnpike

The next time you make a pit stop along the Ohio Turnpike, you can also get a little history lesson.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine unveiled Underground Railroad historical markers at two Ohio Turnpike rest areas Wednesday.

The first unveiling was at the Commodore Perry Service Plaza, an eastbound service stop in Clyde. The second was at the Portage Service Place, a westbound service stop in Mantua. Both locations were chosen because of ties to the Underground Railroad.

Plaques honoring the Underground Railroad will sit at turnpike rest stops in two Ohio towns. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

The turnpike rest stops are an ideal location because of the large numbers of visitors that come through the plazas, DeWine said.

According to the Ohio Turnpike, about three million people stop at the Commodore Perry Service Plaza every year. A total of about 22 million people pass through all 14 of the Ohio Turnpike rest stops in a year’s time.

“We’ve always enjoyed as we travel around the country to look at the historic markers. This is very prominently displayed and it will be people from all over the country who now will understand Ohio’s role in the Underground Railroad,” DeWine said.

The Commodore Perry Plaza plaque shares the story of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Anderson, who escaped slavery to live in Clyde and is the only former slave buried in the town’s McPherson Cemetery.

“Ohio’s role in the Underground Railroad is very important because I like to think of it as the gateway to freedom,” said Cathy Nelson, founder and president emeritus of the Friends of Freedom Society. “I want to see those people who do not live in Ohio, who are coming through on their journeys here and there to stop here and read this marker.”

Ferzan M. Ahmed and Sanda K. Barber from the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission also spoke at the ceremony. [Gabriel Kramer / ideastream]

Traveling from Birmingham, Ala., Charles Pargo stopped in Clyde for a slice of pizza and learned about the newly unveiled plaques.

“I think it’s pretty neat,” Pargo said. “It’s something like a token, like maybe you didn’t think you would see it here.”

Identical plaques will be eventually placed at the rest stops across the turnpike from the Commodore Perry and Portage Service Plazas. The Erie Island Service Plaza is the westbound stop in Clyde and Brady’s Leap Service Plaza is the eastbound stop in Mantua.

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