Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad
National Historical Park
Maryland
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I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.

—Harriet Tubman

The Path to Freedom

The Underground Railroad refers to the actions of enslaved people escaping to freedom, those who helped them, and the sites along their journeys. After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Underground Railroad became more deliberate and organized. Freedom seekers were no longer safe in "free" states—they had to get out of the country. This national historical park commemorates those brave souls and the Underground Railroad's most famous conductor, Harriet Tubman.

Once Harriet Tubman gained her own freedom in 1849, she felt the pain of separation from her loved ones, and she was determined to free them. She said, "But I was free, and they should be free." Here Tubman is memorialized in the land, water, and sky of this place where she was born and to which she returned again and again to free others. Tubman would easily recognize it. The maze-like paths and waterways that she navigated have changed little.

The landscape of the national historical park is complemented by other federal, state, and privately owned lands that preserve a farming lifestyle in this area where Tubman grew to adulthood.

The park includes the home site of Jacob Jackson, a free and literate African American who helped Tubman and her family. He carried a coded letter alerting her brothers Henry, Benjamin, and Robert that she would soon guide their escape to the North. The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit organization, donated the home site to the National Park Service.

Slave labor built Stewart's Canal, a commercial transport corridor, between 1810 and 1832. Tubman learned to navigate the canal while working with her father, Ben Ross, an enslaved timber manager freed in middle age. The canal is inside Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Begin your visit at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, then continue to explore the area's history on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. Along the 125-mile driving tour you will see over two dozen sites and scenic vistas associated with Tubman.

The difference between us is very marked. Most that I have done and suffered in the service of our cause has been in public, and I have received much encouragement at every step of the way. You, on the other hand, have labored in a private way.

—Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman, 1868

When I found I had crossed that line [into freedom], I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.

—Harriet Tubman, 1849

Beyond Freedom

Born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland, Harriet Tubman fled to Pennsylvania, a "free" state. A few years later she dared to return repeatedly to guide over 70 others to freedom. Her courageous and selfless actions earned her the nickname "Moses."

Tubman served the Union Army in the Civil War as a nurse and spy. She used her skills in navigating tidal streams during a raid along the Combahee River in South Carolina. Tubman was the first woman in US history to plan and lead an armed assault. Tubman later settled in Auburn, New York. There she worked for women's suffrage, practiced her faith, and founded a home for the elderly and disadvantaged.

Harriet Tubman lived her principles, and over her long life many revered her. The New York Times reported her death on March 10, 1913. Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington spoke at her grand memorial. Tubman's story reminds us that civil rights are hard-won-and individuals must act to defend those rights.

I never met with any person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken direct to her soul.

—Abolitionist Thomas Garrett, describing Tubman

park map
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Plan Your Visit

Partners and Parks
The visitor center is managed by the National Park Service and the Maryland Park Service. Open daily, 9 am to 5 pm. Exhibits, a film, and programs about Tubman and the Underground Railroad. • Obtain information about the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway (www.harriettubmanbyway.org). • Find out about the other national park dedicated to Tubman: Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, NY (www.nps.gov/hart).

Tips for Your Visit
The park includes a mix of federal, state, and private land. Please respect others' rights and privacy. • Cell phone coverage and GPS are unreliable. • For firearms regulations check the park website.

Getting to the Park
The visitor center is approximately 11 miles south of Cambridge, MD. From US 50, turn south on Rt. 16. Follow Rt. 16 to Church Creek (about 7 miles); turn left on Rt. 335 (Golden Hill Rd.). Follow Rt. 335 about 4.5 miles; the visitor center is on the right.

Source: NPS Brochure (2018)


Establishment

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park — December 19, 2014
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument — March 25, 2013


For More Information
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OFFICIAL NPS
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Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards expand section

Documents

Essays: Dann J. BroyldMargaret WashingtonCheryl Janifer LaRocheKate Clifford LarsonAmy Murrell Taylor (January 2014)

Discovering the Underground Railroad Junior Ranger Activity Book (Date Unknown)

Map: Proposed Boundary and Authorized Acquisition Areas (March 2014)

Natural Resource Condition Assessment, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/HUTR//NRR-2019/1897 (Katharina Engelhardt, Todd Lookingbill, Nadia Bukach, Margaret Latimer, Kristin Ratliff, Regan Gifford, Joora Baek, Olivia Hurlbert, Austin Rizzo and Brianne Walsh, March 2019)

Special Resource Study Handout, Harriet Tubman (undated)

Special Resource Study Update, Harriet Tubman (July 2008)

Special Resource Study / Environmental Assessment, Harriet Tubman (November 2008)



Handbooks ◆ Books expand section

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Last Updated: 11-Jun-2022