Until recently, that's what I thought it was.

What? Don't look at me, I'm not american! The image in my head was so cool!

Anyway, the AH is to have an alternate 19th century where the Underground Railroad is actually a Railroad that is Underground and it ferries escaped slaves back to the north where they are freed. Could it work somehow? Is it even possible?
 

kernals12

Banned
No, No, No, did I say no?
If it was an actual railroad, it could just be torn up and made useless.
And the cost of tunnelling for hundreds of miles would be staggering and again could not be kept secret.
 
And the cost of tunnelling for hundreds of miles would be staggering and again could not be kept secret.
Well, you don't need anything of that scope to create an Underground Railroad. Think the smuggling tunnels across the US-Mexican border or between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. One could quite well imagine a tunnel of a few miles that stretches between, say, a warehouse employed by a covert abolitionist in a slave state and some safe point in a free state, and which has something like a railroad (realistically probably handcarts) to assist in actually moving groups of people. And thus you would have a literal underground railroad as part of the Underground Railroad.
 

kernals12

Banned
Well, you don't need anything of that scope to create an Underground Railroad. Think the smuggling tunnels across the US-Mexican border or between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. One could quite well imagine a tunnel of a few miles that stretches between, say, a warehouse employed by a covert abolitionist in a slave state and some safe point in a free state, and which has something like a railroad (realistically probably handcarts) to assist in actually moving groups of people. And thus you would have a literal underground railroad as part of the Underground Railroad.
Those tunnels don't have to go for thousands of miles. And how are you going to reinforce these tunnels?
 
Those tunnels don't have to go for thousands of miles. And how are you going to reinforce these tunnels?
....did you actually read my post? Do the words “tunnel of a few miles” or “don’t need anything of that scope” mean anything to you? I brought up the examples I did because I was specifically discussing 19th century versions being part of a slave escape network, not because I thought they proved that you could build a tunnel from Florida to Canada.

The whole point is that you don't need tunnels hundreds or thousands of miles long to make the term literal. You only need a few miles in the right place. And that is certainly doable.
 
Perhaps if slave-catching happened a lot on the United States-Canada border it would necessitate a tunnel under the border as suggested. I don't know if anything like that was architecturally possible at the time, but maybe something like the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel?
 

Deleted member 114175

Very long underground tunnels are possible with the technology of the 19th century. Some ancient Persian and ancient Roman aqueducts were over 100 km (62.1 miles) in subterranean length; the former were dug by hand.

As for a literal railroad, much harder, probably impossible due to the expense and size of a railroad. A steam locomotive that distance underground, in the early 19th century, is not going to be feasible. However there could be hand-pushed mine carts on a single rail.

The tunnels would only need to go over state borders, not the entire way. Also most of the OTL Underground Railroad escape routes, were actually in the Northern states.

If it had actual railroads, though, it probably wouldn't have been called the Underground Railroad but something else to hide the movement's identity, with another set of metaphors.

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