Northup Trail
Northup Trail

Epps House: Solomon Northup's Gateway to Freedom Museum, LSUA: The landscaping of the museum highlights southern plants such as live oaks and a gravel pathway that would have been typical of of the period during which the house was built. Image courtesy of Meredith Melancon, December 2013.

Northup Trail

William Prince Ford: Date and location are unknown. Image courtesy of Sue Eakin Papers, Central Louisiana Collections, James C. Bolton Library, LSUA.

Northup Trail

Woodworth Fish Hatcherie: The present site of the Woodworth Fish Hatcherie, operated by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, was the location on Indian Creek that William Prince Ford and his partner, William Ramsey, owned forty acres and a ran a small lumber mill. Image courtesy of Meredith Melancon, December 2013.

Northup Trail

Waverly Plantation, ca. 1940s: Waverly Plantation house can be seen in the background. The dog trot that ran through the center of the home is visible. It is unclear what year the home was built, but Ralph Smith Smith and his family fled to the home during the Union occupation of Alexandria. The home was torn down in 1946 and a new home constructed using the wood from the former was built in 1948 by Frank and Daisy Linzay. The home is now privately owned by their daughter-in-law, Juliette DeWitt Linzay. Image courtesy of Juliette DeWitt Linzay.

Northup Trail

83 miles
2 days

The 83-mile Northup Trail tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free-born African American farmer and professional violinist from New York. In 1841, he was offered a traveling musician’s job and was convinced to travel to Washington D.C., where slavery was legal.  While there, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Northup and other slaves were shipped to New Orleans by sea. During the voyage, Northup persuaded an English sailor to send Henry Northup a letter that told of his kidnapping. Henry Northup, a lawyer, was the son of the man who had once held Solomon’s father as a slave and freed him. Henry Northup wanted to help, but needed to know where Solomon was.

In New Orleans, Northup was given the name “Platt” and eventually arrived in Central Louisiana where he remained a slave from 1841-1853.

The Northup Trail follows his journey and visits sites such as the Red River Landing in Alexandria, where Northup and three other slaves disembarked the steamer Rodolf after being sold in New Orleans and the Epps House ( on the LSU-A campus), where he met and confided in a Canadian-born carpenter Samuel Bass. Bass is credited with writing several letters on Northup’s behalf to friends and officials in New York in hopes of finding help. Bass was in great danger by helping Northup send letters telling of his plight in Louisiana.  Finally, Bass’s letters reached two storekeepers in New York who knew Northup. They contacted his wife who contacted Henry Northup. This chain of events set the process in motion to free Northup.

In early 1853, attorney Henry Northup arrived in Marksville, enlisted the help of local attorney John P. Waddill. The attorneys and the sheriff went to the Epps Plantation on Bayou Boeuf to find Northup. On January 4, 1853 at the Avoyelles Parish Courthouse in Marksville (another site on the trail), papers were signed and Northup was at last a free man again.

Upon his return to New York, Northup chronicled his life as a slave in his memoirs, Twelve Years a Slave, which was made into a movie of the same name that won the Best Picture Oscar in 2013.

Twenty-two signs mark the stops of the Northup Trail, which starts in Alexandria and then goes to Louisiana State University at Alexandria, Bunkie, Evergreen, before ending in Marksville.

Alexandria-Pineville Convention and Visitors Bureau
Avoyelles Parish Tourist Commission/Visitor Center


Northup Trail Attractions