St. Louis, Missouri
Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing
Interpretive Center & Site Design
Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing is the first nationally recognized Underground Railroad Site of Missouri. It developed through a community effort into a national cultural destination in North St. Louis. Located on the St. Louis Riverfront Trail, it is a place to contemplate the courage shown by Missourians 150 years ago, where Mary Meachum and a man named Isaac helped nine freedom seekers cross the Mississippi on their northern journey to freedom. The 11 acre site adjacent to the Mississippi River flood wall was designed with the community as a sustainable, evocative, and artistic place to reflect. Key design elements include story paths leading visitors through the crossing journey; the Wall of Remembrance engraved with names of enslaved African Americans of the area; Plinths engraved to tell the story of the times; an exterior amphitheater; stairs at the point of departure; an interpretive center; parking and restrooms; and a light tower on the east side of the river.
Significant connections of the area include:
- The Old Courthouse
- The Gateway Arch
- Black History Museum
- Riverfront Trail
- Eads Bridge
- MCT Confluence Trail
- Tower Grove Park
- The Missouri Botanical Gardens
- Calvary Cemetery
- Bellefontaine Cemetery
The AmeriCorps Trail Rangers, under the sponsorship of Grace Hill Settlement House, provide key outreach and public interface services for the trail and its companion projects.
Within each path the visitor can stand, in the shoes so to speak, read and view the story of who that person might have been. The path orients the visitor east to the landing in Illinois. The visitor is then ready to ‘run’ with the escapees, down from the levee top on the path to freedom. One path leads from the three towers representing Esther and the two children in her charge.