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Underground Railroad site suffers from water run-off from flooded ravine

Posted at 10:06 PM, Jun 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-23 23:11:36-04

NEBRASKA CITY, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska's only site on the Underground Railroad has been threatened by mother nature and a drainage problem. The site located in Nebraska City has asked for help from city leaders, but is still waiting for a solution.

Mayhew Cabin board president Cathleen Briley says a ravine next to the landmark has flooded four times since Memorial Day weekend due to rain, which has damaged parts of a place that housed runaway slaved in the 1850s.

"There appears to be a blockage somewhere down the line," Briley said.

Two storm drains are located north of the property. From there, run-off water passes through the ravine and leads elsewhere in Nebraska City. Briley believes there is is some kind of blockage down the line past her property because water is backing up at the ravine and washing into an underground tunnel. That tunnel leads into the cellar of the Mayhew Cabin.

Briley's been forced to close the site to visitors indefinitely until something can be done about the flooding ravine. Briley believes the city isn't being transparent about helping one of the city's tourist attractions, which is also a private property.

"We're at a standstill because we can't afford legal representation because the city's refused to help us," Briley said. "We would like to collapse the tunnel putting a barrier between the cabin and the water, but we don't have the money to do that."

On Sunday, signs of flooding in the cellar can still be seen. Barrels and other items were once floating, but now, the water has receded back into the tunnel which leads to the ravine outside. Briley's willing to demolish part of the tunnel in order to prevent rain water from reaching the cabin again.

"[The cabin] is important to Nebraska city, it's one of the biggest tourism attractions to the city," Briley said. "This is our best artifact, this is part of the Underground Railroad. It is imperative that this building be saved."

The Mayhew Cabin's museum, which is also near the ravine, has also suffered damage from flooding rain water and erosion. It's another obstacle the foundation says it will have to overcome.