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Caves had numerous important roles on the Underground Railroad. They acted as improvisational resting areas and shelters from severe weather, as the on-foot journey northward was long and grueling. They worked as hideouts from pursuing slave hunters and rendezvous stations with other slaves. Conductors and slaves could plan their routes north without being out in the open.

Good and bad caves

A cave that may not be safe, or a “bad” cave, have signs of an animal occupant. Paw prints and animal hairs are some of the key indicators that it would not be safe for a long stay. Then again, even if this noticeable evidence wasn’t present (or the cave appeared to be long abandoned), an animal could show up at any moment. Essentially, all “good” caves had the danger of becoming a “bad” one.

In Somewhere in the South, caves can be experienced during the journey north.

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19

A brave slave traveling in a generous covered wagon.

Covered wagon travel was one of the most important methods of reaching freedom on the Underground Railroad. Conductors (a person helping the slave) would helm the wagon horses in the front while the slaves were in the back of the wagon. As most of the time, travel tended to be during the night. It must be noted, “covered wagons”, though sometimes generous in space like the Somewhere in the South image to the right, often were crammed and not very comfortable to say the least.

Dangers of Wagon Travel

“Checkpoints”
Slave hunters and marshals set up check points on the trails. If the wagon suddenly stopped or the conductor signaled that danger was near, the slaves hid in the cargo that was in the wagon.  This is one of the main reasons why confusing travel routes were often used on the Underground Railroad, to avoid traps, checkpoints and hunters.

Breakdowns
Though rare, the wagon could lose a wheel or one of the horses could suffer an injury. If the wagon couldn’t be repaired, the conductor and slaves would either walk back to the original station or to the original destination.

Weather
A clear day could change to a horrendous storm in a blink of an eye. Bad weather could render a trail dangerous for travel, forcing the conductor to turn back.

In Somewhere in the South, you may experience covered wagon travel at certain safe-houses and stations.

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December 11, 2014

special_1

If you’re going to CES 2015, please let us know. Maybe a few hints of what is in the works will be discussed!

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Slave Creole, sometimes referred to as “Black English”, is a derivative of words from American English, African Vernacular, pidgins (simplified forms of communications) and other languages that slaves used to communicate. Though possibly not intended, an argument can be made that Slave Creole was partially a code language. It may have been purposely hard to understand to confuse slave owners, especially when plotting an escape.

1

“I good ear deze doors dun git ketched.”

In the above image from Somewhere in the South, the brave slave is explaining that she will not open the door unless she listens first.

“I good”
My best intentions. “I better do this or else…”

“ear deze”
Listen to this.

“dun git”
Then get. Rather then.

“ketched”
Captured. Catched.

You can experience Slave creole/black English with optional translation in the Somewhere in the South sample right now.

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Henry Brown, a slave working at a tobacco factory, discovered a brilliant way to freedom without being discovered: Send himself! Paying $86 to a delivery company known as Adam’s Express (which had no idea about the plan), and with the help of fellow abolitionist James Miller, Brown packed himself into a box, destination Philadelphia.

For nearly 28 hours, Brown managed not to be discovered, even when the box was upside down, at awkward angles or shaking. The box was put on numerous forms of transportation, including train, boat and covered wagon. A small portion of rations and a water container were the only items he took to quell his hunger.

When Brown finally arrived in Philadelphia and the box was opened, he started singing! This was an incredible accomplishment, so much that word soon spread around the country about this clever plan. However, not everyone was supportive.

Fredrick Douglas, a well-known abolitionist, was notably upset with Henry Brown. He believed Brown should have kept quite so other slaves could have sent themselves North. However, it’s not known if Henry Brown was the only one that used this method. With Brown going public about his clever route to the north, it’s possible that slave catchers got the hint. Still, the Underground Railroad had many secrets that may never be revealed.

In Somewhere in the South, a scenario allows you to send yourself to the North is present. Taking into account the possibility of slave catchers possibly knowing about this method, an escape method is present. Be cautious, because you never know what is lurking outside. You can experience it now in the sample.

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Traveling at night in Somewhere in the South.

Traveling at night in Somewhere in the South.

A frightening time of travel.

Imagine running through a dense forest at night. It’s pitch dark, you cannot see anything. The whiplash of tree branches are bruising your face. Shoeless, your feet are covered with blisters and it feels like you’re running on glass. The orchestra-like hum of crickets and critters intensify the fear. At any moment, a slave catcher, bloodhound or wild animal could confront you. Every step leads closer to freedom, yet danger looms before each of them.

The cover of darkness made it much more difficult for pursuers to track and find freedom bound slaves. If pursuers used torches or lanterns while searching, runaway slaves could easily spot them from far distances and avoid. When the sky was relatively clear, slaves could search for the north star to determine the northern direction. Most of the public would be sleeping during these hours as well, making it less likely for someone besides a pursuers to spot a slave.

The biggest advantage of night travel, stealth, worked as a disadvantage as well. As described in the opening, running through the rugged forest terrain at night made injury more likely. Freedom bound slaves tended to avoid using lanterns, as it would give away their position, so traveling in sometimes pitch darkness was necessary.

What’s in the Wagon?

An abolitionist better have a good story, especially when transporting slaves to another “station” in a covered wagon. A watchful sheriff may have questions on what they’re “delivering” at such late hours. What would you say? What would you do?

In Somewhere in the South, you can experience elements of night travel on the Underground Railroad.

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2

Freedom bound slaves tended to travel during the cover of night. However, to keep ahead and throw-off pursuers, traveling during the day was sometimes necessary.

Visibility
The biggest benefit was visibility. Slaves could see the rugged forest terrain better, allowing them to avoid harsh obstacles and often harsher animals.The daylight revealed the tracks of the bloodhounds and pursuers, making it easier to determine the safest way forward. It was good time to replenish on certain rations, such as wild berries. finding them was a lot simpler during this time, compared to the night.

In the day, hidden messages could be deciphered more efficiently. In the form of tree carvings and signs, these important messages would help slaves find other safe-houses, warn of danger and indicate the direction north.

Visibility was the main advantage, but also the main disadvantage, because slave catchers and marshals could see better as well. The pursuers documented the slaves tracks and kept a sharp eye on movements, which made them more clear during the day.

With the Somewhere in the South sample, you can experience day travel conditions: Wonderneer.com/somewhere-in-the-south

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When slaves made the daring freedom journey to the north, survival eating was an important element.
In Somewhere in the South, you must balance the rations of the brave slave, as finding more can be difficult. Here are some of the main rations and how they effect the health of the slave.

Rations greatly help the stamina of the slave.

Rations greatly help the stamina of the slave, but they must be consumed sparingly.

1. Bread/Hard Tack
This is a form of bread. It’s almost like a piece of stale dough. Hard tack lasts a very long time, but doesn’t provide a large stamina boost. If the tack spoils, it can still be consumed. However, the slave will refuse to eat it during the day, as she doesn’t want to see the rotten tack she’s eating!

2. Water
Fresh water is the most crucial element of survival. Mostly found in rivers and lakes, water greatly benefits the slave’s health.

3. Berries
Wild berries are one of the few resources that the slave can carry in large sums. These can be found in mostly outdoor locations, such as berry trees and bushes. Berries give a slight boost in stamina, but rot easily.

4. Pepper
Although pepper is mainly used to throw-off pursuing bloodhounds, it may also be eaten in dire times.

The key element with the rations is caution. Using too much when your health is relatively good will diminish amounts quickly.

You can experience these rations in the Somewhere in the South sample right now: Wonderneer.com/somewhere-in-the-south

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Somewhere in the South: An underground railroad survival-horror experience

October 14, 2014

It’s a frigid September night of 1859. You’re running through a dense, blinding wilderness as echoes of barking bloodhounds trail behind. Ahead, you make out a dim light. Could this be a safe-house? The barking gets louder. You get closer and closer, yet you can almost feel the breath of the bloodhounds behind. Will you make it in time? This isn’t a game or simulation. This is a horrific experience.

Somewhere in the South is a survival-horror experience taking place on the Underground Railroad. Through the eyes of a female runaway slave, one must guide her through the vast network of covered wagons and safe-houses that funneled slaves to freedom. Critical and moral decisions must be made without wavering, effecting the outcome of not only the slave’s well being, but others as well.

Somewhere in the South will be available soon on the iTunes application store.
A sample version can be experienced right now at wonderneer.com/somewhere-in-the-south.

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October 14, 2014

What in the world is a Wonderneer? Is assembly required? Do I need to add water?

We’ll handle putting things together and we don’t need water..well, not yet. We’re actually an independent production company that brings about change through emotional experiences.

Please, tell us about yourself and the interactive experiences you enjoy. What do you think is missing from these experiences? What stories haven’t been told that should? These can be television shows, books, films, video games, you name it.

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