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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Lessons from a rest stop in Iowa

To the Editor:

Many of us have heard at least a little something about the Underground Railroad, which helped escaped slaves reach Canada. The Somonauk UP Church has a proud history of being a stop on the route where slaves were sheltered and then sent on their way.

On this recent trip back from Montana, we stopped at a most interesting rest area in Cedar County, Iowa. In several ways we learned how common objects would signal information to the escapees. For instance, a wagon wheel set in a certain way might signify “Get ready, pack up to leave,” or, “shoofly as a person who would render aid,” and a “Jacob’s Ladder as to the route.”

The historical plaque also told how a local railroad employee would secret slaves onto the railroad cars as a sack of potatoes. Perhaps a dozen of these symbols were made into large colorful tiles and put into the patio floor. They were quite beautiful. Around the outside of the building, about waist high, was a rope facsimile which showed how the knots used in quilts would give out signals used by the Underground Railroad. Yes, travel can be informative.

Rev. Bob Dell

Sandwich

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