Open for Heroes
Come and see why Maryland is The Most Powerful Underground Railroad Storytelling Destination in the World.
September is International Underground Railroad Month, but Maryland is always open for heroes. Home to legendary leaders like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, and many other incredibly brave individuals, Maryland has a rich mosaic of Underground Railroad sites and unsung heroes throughout the state ready for you to explore. Celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s birth on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 2022. Special events and activities are planned.
Hidden in Maryland’s landscapes are the stories of hundreds of freedom seekers who risked their lives to escape slavery. Full of courage and inspiration, more people successfully fled from bondage in Maryland than from any other state.
At the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center and State Park visitors become immersed in Tubman’s world through informative, evocative exhibits. Drive the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway to explore the secret network of trails, waterways and safe houses used by enslaved people fleeing north to escape slavery, and visit sites along the byway where Harriet's life unfolded.
Born on a farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Frederick Douglass chronicled his experiences in slavery and is regarded as one of America's most prominent and influential orators, abolitionists and statesmen. See the places that shaped Frederick Douglass and celebrate his legacy on a driving tour that starts on the Eastern Shore and takes you through Annapolis and Baltimore.
Explore the old Isaac Riley Farm where Reverend Josiah Henson lived and worked while enslaved from 1795 to 1830 and see exhibits about his life, emancipation and achievements. His 1849 autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's landmark novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
The Havre de Grace Maritime Museum's newest exhibition, “The Underground Railroad: Other Voices of Freedom” uses the work of contemporary artists to tell the stories of the Underground Railroad on the land and waterways at the top of the Chesapeake Bay. “Freedom Bound: Runaways of the Chesapeake” at the Banneker-Douglass Museum shares nine individual stories of resistance to bondage and servitude in the Chesapeake Region from the Colonial Period to the American Civil War (1728-1864).
An urban trail you can follow on foot or by car, Hagerstown’s Underground Railroad Trail, “Sites of Freedom and Resistance,” introduces you to the local agents of the Underground Railroad and lets you follow in the footsteps of the people who traveled this route to freedom. Follow the link below to the brochure and open a window into history.
Now known as a destination for hiking and biking, the C&O Canal Towpath also served as a route to freedom for travelers on the Underground Railroad like James Curry, who made the last leg of his arduous journey from North Carolina along the towpath. The Towpath is an amazing place on its own, but knowing its history as a throughway on the Underground Railroad takes your journey even deeper.
Learn about the Underground Railroad and experience Maryland’s thriving African-American culture at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African-American History & Culture. Located just steps from Baltimore’s world famous Inner Harbor, this living museum is a must visit. And in Annapolis, visit the Banneker-Douglass Museum. Named for Benjamin Banneker and Frederick Douglass, it’s Maryland’s official museum of African-American heritage.
Frederick Douglass, born enslaved in Maryland, was one of the most powerful voices of the abolitionist movement leading to the Civil War, and perhaps the greatest orator in American history. Several tours trace his life and his remarkable legacy through Maryland. Find out more about his bravery and his wisdom on our Frederick Douglass Tours page.
Make Southern Maryland your destination using this new African American Heritage Guide with NPS Network to Freedom sites highlighted. Crossroads & Culture: African American Heritage offers a look at Montgomery County’s rich African American heritage, just north of Washington, DC, and is a guide to the unique historic sites countywide that tell these stories.
To keep Maryland's Freedom Fighters top-of-mind,
check out the "Match the Hero with Their Legacy"