Back in the 1800s, thousands of slaves fled the south for Canada and the free states in the north by traveling through the Underground Railroad at night. This much we know from studying history, but what the text books lack are photos. Since there aren't many photos of the Underground Railroad, photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales set off on a mission to retrace the steps that fugitives took during the 19th century. During her journey, she documented all the locations where slaves are known to have taken shelter.
The Dallas-based photographer grew up in Indiana, one of the first free states runaway slaves encountered on their route to the north. That's why she feels so connected and fascinated by the network of secret passages and safe houses. Of course, no one knows exactly which paths slaves took, but Michna-Bales did her research. She studied historical documents and talked to experts, eventually coming up with a plan.
The 2,000-mile-long trek took Michna-Bales about three months since she traveled only night and by foot. Documenting her journey also proved to be a challenge. At times, she had no source of light besides the moon. When it would be pitch-dark out, she had to resort to light painting. Click through to see the photographer's powerful, beautiful yet haunting images.