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Commission linking Underground Railway heritage to Canalside

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

While the historic Michigan Street corridor in Buffalo is a few blocks from the city's Waterfront, they have been tied together for centuries and will be tied together moving forward. Canalside and the Michigan Street African American Corridor Commission have been working together to make sure people realize there were people of color on the docks and waterways back when this city was turning into a major port and trading center.

The most visible sign was the den of sin and trade, Dug's Dive, now memorialized on the Small Boat Harbor.

Commission Chair Karen Stanley Fleming said this was also the last stop on the Underground Railway to freedom.

"Canada was the way to go. So, yes. Coming through safe houses such as this very building, the Michigan Street Baptist Church, hiding out or often folks having run all the way from Alabama or Mississippi, they'd be sick or they'd be hurt. They might need to get well and healthier and stronger before they could take a trip, a canoe trip across the river to Canada," said Stanley Fleming.

There is a memorialized in Broderick Park on the Niagara River and in the Michigan Street Baptist Church on the corridor.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.