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What Works: Rider's Inn served as stop along the Underground Railroad

10:18 AM, Feb 21, 2011   |    comments
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In its earliest days, it served as a restaurant and inn along the busy Oregon Trail and secretly was a stop along the way to freedom for thousands of slaves.

A light in the uppermost southern part of the building was a sign to slaves that they could find refuge in the basement of Rider's Inn.

They entered through a wishing well and would hide in the basement, waiting for the cue that all was clear to pass through the tunnels and get to awaiting ships along the Lake Erie coast to take them to Canada.

The Rider's Inn was run for many years by Joe Rider and his family. He had 19 children who helped run the inn before spreading across Northeast Ohio.

The inn was also owned by the Lutz family before they sold it to the current owner and operator, Elaine Crane, some 21 years ago.

What all these owners had in common was preserving the history and integrity of the building.

Elaine says part of owning the building means trying to verify the stories that come from the building. She and her staff have found numerous artifacts throughout the years including a handmade musket found in what would have been used as an outhouse in the tunnels.

A lantern that would have been used as a light in the windows and several pieces of artwork depicting slaves in the south that were drawn on music paper.

Today the inn has all the modern comforts of home. For only $30, you can stay in one of the original-sized rooms that in 1823 would have been rented for $7 for four hours.

That's the equivalent of about $120 today. It would have accomodated two people of the same sex and included a meal.

The tunnels used by escaping slaves are unsafe to use today, but the Rider's Inn is designated as an official Underground Railroad stop and was dedicated to the school children that come to learn about the history of the inn.

Rider's Inn is located at 792 Mentor Avenue in Painesville.

They are open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week.  They also put on a Stagecoach Brunch from 10 a.m-3 p.m. on Sundays.

WKYC-TV

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