Underground Railroad: Sand Cave

The topographical features of today’s Shawnee National Forest played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad in the mid-19th century. As slaves escaped and headed north, the dense forest and rugged terrain offered natural hiding places. On the route through Pope County, Illinois, freedom seekers often used Sand Cave for shelter and protection.

Sand Cave is located a few miles west of Crow Knob and north of the Miller Grove Community location. Unlike the high lookout point of Crow Knob, Sand Cave was a deep, dark, and secluded shelter inside the sandstone face.

Other topographical features on the Shawnee National Forest that may have been used as hiding spots along the Underground Railroad include Ox-Lot, Brasher Cave, and Fat Man’s Squeeze.


Cheryl LaRoche, Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: the Geography of Resistance

Mary McCorvie, “Spotlight on the Underground Railroad,” http://www.recreation.gov/marketing.do?goto=acm/Explore_And_More/exploreArticles/Spotlight__The_Underground_Railroad_on_the_Shawnee_National_Forest.htm

This information about the Underground Railroad is part of a geo-located multi-forest interpretive program. Please contact the U.S. Forest Service Washington Office Recreation, Heritage, and Volunteer Resources program leadership with any questions or to make changes.  SGV – Recreation Data and Information Coordinator.

At a Glance

Information Center: The U.S. Forest Service has created this multi-Forest interpretive program to highlight people and places along the historic Underground Railroad. Some of these sites are “virtual” locations and are intended to provoke thoughts and conversation but may not have anything physical present on the ground.  These locations are generally relevant to the topics presented on the webpage.  Please use caution when traveling to these remote locations and consult your local Forest Service office for more details. All of the sites highlighted in this program can be seen by visiting https://www.fs.usda.gov/ivm/ and searching within the magnifying glass for “Underground Railroad.”

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