PBS Anywhere

Providing Support for PBS.org

Underground Railroad: The William Still Story

Origin of the name Underground Railroad

Clip | 1m 19s

Historians haven't been able to pin down how the Underground Railroad got its name. Many believe it was a slave-catcher who coined the term, when the runaway he was chasing seemed to just disappear as though he'd escaped on a mysterious underground rail line. But one thing is certain: the "railroad" that helped runaway slaves flee to the free states had nothing to do with steel rails.

Aired: 02/05/12

Rating: TV-PG

Video has closed captioning.

Funding provided by CN Railway, Rogers Cable Network, Canada Media Fund, and Rogers Documentary Fund. Additional support from David W. Pretty, Vernon Achber & Phil Lind, and CPB.