The narrow, steeply sloped streets of Mount Adams are lined with the distinctive narrow homes pressed side to side, so prevalent in the older neighborhoods of Cincinnati. The entertainment district boasts unique shops, bars and restaurants. It is a trendy nightspot.
At the top of the hill sits the Church of the Immaculata, built in 1859 just before the Civil War. And maybe that is why I once heard the legend that the Immaculata was involved in the Underground Railroad. The story went that if it was safe for the slaves to cross the Ohio River to Cincinnati, a light would shine from the church.
I have not been able to corroborate this legend in my brief search through the internet this morning.
But I can say that Cincinnati has a rich history with the Underground Railroad and now sports the National Freedom Center downtown near the river. The Harriet Beecher Stowe House is here. The tragic and desperate event that inspired Toni Morrison to write Beloved happened right across the river in Kentucky. Visitors to Cincinnati and southern Ohio can tour sites that were used as stations along the Underground Railroad.
I don’t know whether a light shone from the Immaculata Church signaling safety to escaping slaves. But I do know with or without lights, the slaves crossed the broad and sometimes rapid waters of the Ohio River to the shores of Cincinnati and freedom.