Sandra Scott Travels: Walk Along The Historic Underground Railroad

the Freedom Crossing Monument

The Freedom Crossing Monument.

Last week I asked: Where is the Castellani Art Museum?

It is in Lewiston, NY.

Johnny Mathis at the Seneca Niagara Casino
Johnny Mathis at the Seneca Niagara Casino

There were several reasons John and I wanted to visit Niagara Falls USA.

First of all, we wanted to see Johnny Mathis at the Seneca Niagara Casino.

When people hear the word “casino” they think of gambling and rightly so.

But, there is so much more to today’s casinos.

The accommodations are usually the best the area has to offer.

Guests can count of upscale rooms, excellent restaurants and entertainment plus, in many cases, added benefits like spas, swimming pools and other activities all under one roof.

The Johnny Mathis show was sold out.

the Seneca Niagara Casino.
The Seneca Niagara Casino.

Mathis was born in 1935 and he is still singing up a storm.

I was impressed because he started singing and never stopped for an hour and a half.

It was one great song after another.

Mathis is one of the most successful recording artists of the 20th century.

John and I knew all the songs and were surprised at how many we knew but forgot that Mathis made them famous: “Wonderful! Wonderful!” “It’s Not For Me to Say,” “Chances Are,” “The Twelfth of Never,” and so many more.

It was a great a trip down memory lane.

 the Castellani Art Museum
The Castellani Art Museum

We had planned to have dinner at the Seneca Niagara Casino but because of the Saturday night crowd there was a long waiting line.

We should have made reservations.

I wanted to go to the Noodle Bar.

Instead, we went to Morrie’s Express and bought deli sandwiches and a delicious carrot cake, which we took to our room where we enjoyed our late repast while looking out at the view of the Niagara Falls area.

Tip: Ask for a falls view room.

The higher the better.

Reading the history of the Underground Railroad
Reading the history of the Underground Railroad.

There is a spectacular fireworks display every Friday and Sunday at 10 p.m.; but, it was Saturday, so we had to be content with just a great view.

The other reason we wanted to visit the Falls area was to visit Niagara University and the Castellani Art Museum to check out its Underground Railroad display called “Freedom Crossing.”

We had stopped by several years ago but it was Monday when museums are usually closed.

The art museum has a nice collection that includes the works of such famous people as Picasso, Miro, Dali, and Warhol.

And, the best part is it is free.

The founders, Mr. and Mrs. Armand Castellani, were in the grocery business which grew, merged and expanded to become Tops Markets.

“Freedom Crossing.”
“Freedom Crossing.”

The Castellani collection and the museum have also grown to become a modern art gallery.

One section is devoted to the Underground Railroad in the Greater Niagara area.

During the 1800s, many fugitive slaves came through the area crossing into Canada and freedom.

They used the Suspension Bridge and the Niagara River to make the crossing.

They traveled by boat, rail and some even swam.

The Interpretive center at the Castellani, while not extensive, tells the story of the movement in the Buffalo-Niagara area and the people who risked their life in the name of freedom.

On display are historical documents from a nearby Quaker Meeting House and actual shackles used in slave auctions.

the Freedom Crossing Monument
The Freedom Crossing Monument.

One picture shows Harriet Tubman, the “Moses of her People” who often escorted fugitives across the Suspension Bridge of which only fragments are remaining today.

There are several associated sites nearby including the Freedom Crossing Monument on the bank of the Niagara River in Lewiston that was dedicated in 2009.

Trivia Tease™:  Where can you learn about dinosaurs?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!