CHARTERED IN 2005
Papson and Madison were part of the group of volunteers
who founded the association. They were able to achieve nonprofit status and obtain a charter from the New York State Department of Education in 2005.
The Papsons were able to take their research into the local Underground Railroad and convert it to a series of historical readings. That research led them to change the focus from the Adirondacks to the Lake Champlain Valley.
“That was their highway through the region,” Papson said.
After the decision was made to create a museum, Lake to Locks Passage Director Janet Kennedy told Papson the Town of Chesterfield had been given the Estes House, located at AuSable Chasm.
The museum opened in May 2011. The property is still owned by the Town of Chesterfield, which served as the conduit for grant funding that helped make the facility a reality.
The property is maintained by the AuSable Chasm Co., Papson said, noting it is somewhat unusual to see a private company, a non-profit organization and a municipality work together so well.
Papson said they recently were accepted for a link on the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom map of Underground Railroad sites.
The museum had more than 4,000 visitors from 23 countries last year — its first year of existence — and is on pace to reach more than 5,000 visits in 2012. “For a little museum, that is outstanding,” Papson said.
Email Dan Heath: firstname.lastname@example.org