Looking for Utica’s Underground Railroad Tunnels – Haunts and Legends Extra [VIDEO]
Steeped in history and legends, New York is filled with stories of the forgotten, eerie and the weird that influence us everyday. While exploring the Rutger Park Mansion #3 in Utica, we learned an intriguing rumor about a tunnel used by escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad connecting Rutger Park mansions with a church on South Street.
Lite 98.7's Eric Meier has teamed up with Folklorist P.W. Creighton to explore the haunts and legends of New York. Through their travels into the dark and often overlooked spaces they will bring these historic sites back to life and make some unexpected discoveries along the way.
In this extra episode Steven Grant from the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica explains that there are persistent stories of a tunnel between a church on South Street and the Rutger Park mansion known as Munn's Castle.
We traced the steps the tunnel could have taken from Munn's Castle to South Street, which is one block south of Rutger Park. Indeed there is a church that stands due south of Munn's Castle
Calvary Episcopal Church
Investigating the history of Calvary Episcopal Church, we learned that the building that stands there today was constructed in 1870, too late to have been used by escaped slaves as the Civil War had ended 5 years prior.
However, the current building was the second church to occupy the block of South Street between Howard and Nielson. The Calvary Episcopal Church in Utica was first incorporated in December of 1850 according to the records of the Utica Public Library. So that building could certainly have been used as a station along the Underground Railroad.
Today the building which housed the Calvary Episcopal Church is boarded up and there are "Not to be Occupied" orders from the City of Utica. It was last used as a Greek Orthodox church known as the Cathedral of Theotokos until roughly 2012. The 145-year-old building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hidden Utica Tunnels
All photos credit Phil Nye/TSM
Watch the Complete Haunts and Legends Season 1 via this Youtube Playlist
Watch the complete first season of the Haunts and Legends of New York including our explorations of the Happy Valley ghost town near Syracuse, the Lost Village of Delta near Rome, Utica's Secret Underground Waterways and the Hidden Vault at Bagg Commemorative Park in Utica.