The Bonine House

The James E. Bonine House, built in the mid-1800s, still stands in Vandalia. Bonine set aside some of his vast land to be cleared and farmed by freedom seekers and freedmen. Freedom seekers also sought shelter at the house as they moved along the Underground Railroad.

Many thousand years ago, receding glaciers left a series of small caverns hollowed out of the banks of the St. Joseph River. But it’s much more recent history that I’m interested in as I descend the stone steps of Bear Cave.

Water drips from the creek above, and an inch of water covers the floor, as our guide leads us into a 9-by-12-foot cavern known as the Slave Room.

underground railroad

A historical plague describes Vandalia’s history with the Underground Railroad.