Un­der­ground Rail­road ex­hibit opens Satur­day

Dorchester Star - - Regional -

CAM­BRIDGE — The Chop­tank River Light­house was not stand­ing at Long Wharf on the wa­ter­front in Cam­bridge dur­ing the mid­dle years of the 1800s, but the views that the light­house of­fers to visi­tors to­day give a com­mand­ing in­tro­duc­tion to the sto­ries of Har­riet Tub­man and the Un­der­ground Rail­road none­the­less.

That is the driv­ing idea be­hind a new ex­hibit open­ing at the light­house on Satur­day, June 24. Ti­tled “View from the Light­house: The Un­der­ground Rail­road,” the ex­hibit will run through the end of Oc­to­ber and be housed on two large walls of the up­stairs sec­tion of the light­house. It is the first such tem­po­rary ex­hibit in the history of the Light­house, which has been open since 2012.

“With the Light­house cel­e­brat­ing its fifth birth­day this year, we wanted to try and add some­thing new and dif­fer­ent for our visi­tors, lo­cal res­i­dents and tourists alike,” said Cassie Bur­ton, the pres­i­dent of the Cam­bridge Light­house Foun­da­tion, a com­mu­nity non­profit that man­ages the vis­i­tor experience at the city-owned fa­cil­ity. “This ex­hibit is all about ty­ing our beautiful wa­ter­front in with the in­cred­i­ble sto­ries our com­mu­nity has to tell.”

Bur­ton said in May, vis­i­ta­tion to the light­house was up more than 20 per­cent com­pared with the same month in 2016.

One goal of the new ex­hibit is to keep build­ing on that progress so that the light­house can play an even larger role go­ing for­ward in help­ing to draw new visi­tors to Dorch­ester County and con­nect­ing those visi­tors with the busi­nesses and des­ti­na­tions that make the com­mu­nity such a unique and spe­cial place.

Dur­ing an open­ing day re­cep­tion from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., there will be light re­fresh­ments avail­able at the light­house. The foun­da­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Jim Duffy, will be on hand to an­swer ques­tions and dis­cuss the ex­hibit with visi­tors.

Duffy is the au­thor of a book that will be com­ing out later this sum­mer, “The Tub­man Travel Com­pan­ion: 32 Un­der­ground Rail­road Jour­neys on Del­marva,” and he played a key role in de­vel­op­ing the ex­hibit ma­te­ri­als.

Those ma­te­ri­als walk visi­tors around the light­house, tak­ing in four dif­fer­ent views they can en­joy from the deck and ex­plain­ing how each view speaks to the land­scape and sto­ries of Un­der­ground Rail­road times. • Down­river, to­ward the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, is the story of Har­riet Tub­man’s fam­ily roots and her grand­mother’s ar­rival on these shores from Africa. • Up­river, be­yond the Fred­er­ick Malkus Bridge, the banks of the Chop­tank River run along one of the most pop­u­lar routes taken by slaves striv­ing to reach free­dom in the north along the Un­der­ground Rail­road. • Into Cam­bridge along High Street is the site of the first es­cape Tub­man ever helped to or­ches­trate af­ter mak­ing her own run to free­dom in 1849. • Across the river, in Tal­bot County, is the story another fas­ci­nat­ing es­capee, Moses Viney, who made his run to free­dom from a farm near Trappe. Tal­bot County is also the birth­place of the famed abo­li­tion­ist or­a­tor and writer Fred­er­ick Douglass. The open­ing of “View from the Light­house: The Un­der­ground Rail­road” has been sched­uled in co­op­er­a­tion with the nearby Richard­son Mar­itime Mu­seum in down­town Cam­bridge at 401 High Street.

At 1 p.m. on June 24, the mu­seum will be pre­sent­ing a talk ti­tled, “Amaz­ing Grace: Sail­ing into Slav­ery, Sail­ing onto Free­dom,” by John H. Miller, a pro­fes­sor of lit­er­a­ture who has taught at Carnegie-Mel­lon Univer­sity, the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia, and other in­sti­tu­tions.

The vol­un­teer-run Har­riet Tub­man Mu­seum and Ed­u­ca­tional Cen­ter at 424 Race Street, which is just a cou­ple of blocks from the Richard­son Mu­seum in down­town Cam­bridge, will be open to visi­tors that day as well. So, too, will the new Har­riet Un­der­ground Rail­road Vis­i­tor Cen­ter out­side of town at 4068 Golden Hill Road, near the Black­wa­ter Na­tional Wildlife Refuge.

“This is go­ing to be a day full of op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­plore our her­itage, and the Light­house is proud to be work­ing in part­ner­ship with the Richard Mu­seum and others to help make it hap­pen,” Bur­ton said.

The light­house is open daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of Oc­to­ber. The up­stairs area with the new ex­hibit will be open those same hours. Ad­mis­sion to the Light­house is al­ways free. Dona­tions are ac­cepted. Cam­bridge Light­house Foun­da­tion vol­un­teers are on hand to greet visi­tors and an­swer their ques­tions on Fri­day af­ter­noons, Satur­days, and Sun­days.

The ex­hibit is a grass­roots af­fair, fi­nanced through the gen­eros­ity of donors from the lo­cal com­mu­nity and be­yond who con­trib­ute to the Cam­bridge Light­house Foun­da­tion dur­ing its an­nual giv­ing cam­paign and by sup­port­ing its other fundrais­ing ef­forts. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit Chop­tankRiverLight­house.org and Face­book.com/Chop­tankRiverLight­house. The Cam­bridge Light­house Foun­da­tion can also be reached at Chop­tankLight­house@gmail.com and 410.463.2653.


“View from the Light­house: The Un­der­ground Rail­road” opens at the Chop­tank River Light­house in Cam­bridge on Sat., June 24 and runs through the end of Oc­to­ber.

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