Har­riet Tub­man State Park opens Satur­day

Dorchester Star - - FRONT PAGE - By VIC­TO­RIA WINGATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

CAMBRIDGE — The new Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road State Park and Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County opens to the public Satur­day, March 11.

The state park and vis­i­tor cen­ter is lo­cated at 4068 Golden Hill Road in Church Creek near Blackwater Na­tional Wildlife Refuge. A pri­vate rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony will be held Fri­day, March 10.

The Na­tional Park Ser vice and the Mary­land Park Ser­vice have teamed up to pro­vide spe­cial fam­ily-friendly Grand Open­ing events and ac­tiv­i­ties at the site and a first look at the new vis­i­tor cen­ter.

Events on Satur­day, March 11, and Sun­day, March 12,

will in­clude pro­grams with Har­riet Tub­man Re-en­ac­tor Mil­li­cent Sparks; Har­riet Haikus and Cre­ative Writ­ing Work­shops with Na­tional Park Ser­vice Cen­ten­nial Poet Lau­re­ate Dr. So­nia Sanchez; His­to­rian Tony Cohen of the Menare Foun­da­tion lead­ing sim­u­lated Un­der­ground Rail­road jour­neys around the legacy gar­den that re­veal es­cape se­crets used by Tub­man and other free­dom seek­ers.

There will be free shut­tles from Cambridge for vis­i­tors com­ing to the site. Free park­ing and a shut­tle sys­tem is avail­able at 410 Academy Street. The shut­tle will op­er­ate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Satur­day, March 11, and Sun­day, March 12. The City of Cambridge is run­ning these free shut­tles to the Vis­i­tor Cen­ter.

Tub­man was born in Dorch­ester County and lived there as a slave un­til she was nearly 30 years old. She es­caped slav­ery in 1849, yet risked her life to re­turn to the Eastern Shore many times to help oth­ers in their jour­ney to free­dom. She helped around 70 slaves es­cape and led them north. Some went as far north as Canada.

In 2013, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama estab­lished the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Na­tional Mon­u­ment in Dorch­ester County, a pre­cur­sor to Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park des­ig­na­tion.

In 2014, Congress passed a bill to cre­ate Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Parks.

The state park is about 17 acres and fea­tures a 10,000-square foot Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­ment De­sign Sil­ver rated vis­i­tor cen­ter, legacy gar­den and an open-air pav­il­ion with a stone fire­place.

The vis­i­tor cen­ter houses the ex­hibit hall, gift shop, in­for­ma­tion desk, re­search li­brary and re­strooms. Vis­i­tors will be­gin their ex­pe­ri­ence with an im­mer­sive, two to three minute au­dio-vis­ual theatre fea­ture to show a day in the life of Tub­man. Upon ex­it­ing the theatre, guests will see a three­d­i­men­sional re­con­structed scene of a slave auc­tion at the Dorch­ester County Court­house.

Then vis­i­tors will ex­plore how the land­scape of the Chop­tank River Re­gion shaped Tub­man’s early life, and the im­por­tance of her faith, fam­ily and com­mu­nity. The ex­hibit also fea­tures in­for­ma­tion about Tub­man’s role as a con­duc­tor on the Un­der­ground Rail­road, and her work as a free­dom fighter, hu­man­i­tar­ian, leader and lib­er­a­tor.

Other ar­eas in the main space pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about her work as a slave, her ex­pe­ri­ence at the Buck­town Vil­lage Store, her strong faith in God, and her lib­er­a­tion from slav­ery. Many of these ex­hibits will fea­ture touch pan­els and sound sticks in or­der to pro­vide ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion and sto­ries.

Mov­ing far­ther into the cen­ter will bring vis­i­tors to a more emo­tive setup de­signed to give one an idea of what a night res­cue on the UGRR might have looked like.

The legacy gar­den is an open space for in­ter­pre­ta­tion and quiet re­flec­tion. It is land­scaped with plants that are na­tive to the Eastern Shore, show­ing veg­e­ta­tion with sea­sonal in­ter­ests, in par­tic­u­lar spring blooms and strong au­tumn col­ors. There is about a one-mile trail that winds through the gar­den, and of­fers views of the park and neigh­bor­ing Blackwater Na­tional Wildlife Refuge.

The Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park con­tains prop­er­ties in three coun­ties — Dorch­ester, Tal­bot and Caro­line. The Na­tional Park Ser­vice has been al­lowed to ac­quire seven non­con­tigu­ous prop­er­ties that were his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant in Tub­man’s life.

This park con­sists of 2,775 acres in Dorch­ester County, 2,200 in Caro­line and 775 in Tal­bot.

The par­cel in Dorch­ester County con­tains the home site of Ja­cob Jack­son, a free African-Amer­i­can man who com­mu­ni­cated with Tub­man’s fam­ily mem­bers and al­lowed his house to be used as one of the first safe houses on the Un­der­ground Rail­road lead­ing out of the Eastern Shore.

Other parcels in­clude the site of what is be­lieved to be Tub­man’s birth­place near Madi­son in Dorch­ester County, and sites of the Brodess Plan­ta­tion, where she worked as a young girl, the Cook Plan­ta­tion, where she worked as a seam­stress; and the Poplar Neck plan­ta­tion, where she es­caped slav­ery in 1849.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road State Park and Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County, visit http://dnr2.mar yland.gov/ pub­li­clands/pages/eastern/tub man.aspx

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

The Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road State Park and Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County opens to the public March 10 on Har­riet Tub­man Day. The state park is about 17 acres and fea­tures a 10,000-square foot vis­i­tor cen­ter, legacy gar­den and an open-air pav­il­ion.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

The Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road State Park and Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Dorch­ester County opens to the public March 10 on Har­riet Tub­man Day. The state park is about 17 acres and fea­tures a 10,000-square foot vis­i­tor cen­ter, legacy gar­den and an open-air pav­il­ion.

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