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New park and visitor center commemorates Harriet Tubman

Learn about the woman who helped many escape to freedom when the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center celebrates its grand opening March 11 and 12 in Church Creek.

Harriet TubmanURVisitorCenter WThe visitor center is on the grounds of the 17-acre Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, which also includes a recreational pavilion, legacy garden and a number of wooded trails. The location was chosen because the view is preserved by the surrounding Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

“The story of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad is one that captivates people of all ages and backgrounds, and this new national park and monument will help us share her story and think about what it means for people today,” explains Robert T. Parker, superintendent of the National Park Service, in a park brochure.

The grand opening public programs and activities include:

  • Meet Harriet Tubman – A re-enactor performs an interpretation of Tubman and her life 9-10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday.Harriet TubmanW2
  • Harriet Haikus & Creative Writing Workshop – Poet Laureate Sonia Sanches will present her award-winning haikus and lead a creative writing workshop 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday.
  • A Walk with Tony Cohen – A simulated Underground Railroad journey will reveal escape secrets used by Tubman and other information, 1-2 p.m., Saturday.
  • Games Enslaved Children Played – Learn about games slave children played and create a piece of art, noon-4 p.m. both days.
  • Junior Ranger Program – An educational activity introduces the ongoing program, noon-4 p.m. both days.

A short video at the new visitor center introduces guests to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway, which meanders through 125 miles of countryside and shoreline in Dorchester and Caroline counties. Along the Byway, visitors can experience the region’s Underground Railroad stories, the story of slavery and the pursuit of freedom on the Eastern Shore.

The new visitor center also has a permanent exhibit focusing on Tubman and the Underground Railroad resistance movement from the Maryland perspective. Visitors to the park are encouraged to wander the site and walk along the paths.

The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For details on the park, the visitor center or the grand opening, call 410-221-2290 ext. 5070 or visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park website.

By Betsy Stein

Photos courtesy of Harriet Tubman Byway

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