Today’s Black History Fact: Origin of ‘Underground Railroad’

The Underground Railroad Gateway to Freedom Monument is seen in Hart Plaza in Detroit, Thursday, June 30, 2011. Detroit Economic Growth Corp. spokesman Bob Rossbach tells the Associated Press someone tampered with a 2-by-2-foot plaque on the monument, which honors escaping slaves and the network of people and places that sheltered them. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Do you know where the term “Underground Railroad” comes from?

According to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, there are several possibilities. The most common theory stems from a 1831 story about a fugitive slave named Tice Davids who had escaped from Kentucky to Ohio. Davids’ master thought he’d attempted to swim across the Ohio River and drowned since he couldn’t find him. He told the local paper that if he’d escaped he must’ve “gone off on an underground railroad.”

Read about the other origin theories here.