Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center to Open on Maryland's Eastern Shore in March 2017
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center -- a tribute to the storied African American freedom fighter -- opens March 10, 2017 in the rural wetlands of Maryland's Eastern Shore.
The $21-million-project commemorates the woman whose incredible journey from slave to Underground Railroad "conductor" to Civil War scout, spy and nurse has led to posthumous recognition as the new face on the $20 bill.
Tubman was born and lived as a slave for 27 years in the farmlands and tidal marsh of Dorchester and Caroline counties. In 1849, she escaped to Philadelphia along a route of the Underground Railroad. Rather than remaining
in safety in the North, she returned to her former home an estimated 13 times to liberate enslaved friends and family members using the secret network.
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A project of the Maryland and National Park services, the 17-acre Visitor Center is the trailhead for exploring the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway and National Park. The National Park was established in 2014
to protect the landscapes and locations important to Tubman's life.
The site is adjacent to the 28,000-acre Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, a top 10 birdwatching and waterfowl sanctuary. More than 250 migrating and resident bird species can be seen at Blackwater, including herons,
egrets, osprey, geese, swans, ducks and one of the East Coast's largest populations of bald eagles. Attractions within the refuge include a visitor center, wildlife drive, hiking, biking and kayak trails.
The 10,000-square-foot Tubman Visitor Center exhibit building is a contemporary barn-like structure clad with zinc and red cedar siding. It is laid out in a series of four pitched-roof "volumes"
that can be interpreted as stations along the Underground Railroad. A linear spine representing the journey North connects the volumes.
Visitors begin with an orientation film -- "The Life and Legacy of Harriet Tubman" -- that offers a historical overview of her connections to the resistance movement and highlights the 35 historic sites of the Tubman
Byway marked throughout the region. Brochures and a free audio guide are available to lead visitors on a self-guided tour of the 125-mile route.
The interior space, designed with rough cedar walls, wood floors and exposed beams, contains informative, evocative and emotive exhibits that tell the story of Tubman's work as a freedom fighter, liberator, leader and
In addition, the Visitor Center complex includes a legacy garden, walking trails, gift shop, research library, information desk and 2,600-square-foot picnic pavilion with stone fireplace.
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is located on MD 335 (4068 Golden Hill Road) near Church Creek, Maryland.
For more information on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway at HarrietTubmanByway.org and at