Pennsylvania passed an Act to gradually abolish slavery on March 1, 1780, making it one of the first states to take steps towards abolition. However, slavery continued in Cumberland County until 1847, an additional 67 years. African American slaves in the county functioned as field hands and domestic workers. Other slaves were employed at iron plantations, tanneries, distilleries, and various mills around the region.
The Underground Railroad extended through Cumberland County, utilizing two main routes for fugitive slaves. One route passed through Pine Grove, Mt. Holly Springs, Boiling Springs, Mechanicsburg, and Harrisburg, before heading north. The second route followed Walnut Bottom and Old York Roads, before entering Boiling Springs and continuing on to Harrisburg.