Explore Maryland’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
Open for Exploration
Tours of Hampton Mansion include descriptions of the roles enslaved people had at the plantation and stories of escapes.
Tours at Sotterley Plantation include the interior of this rare slave cabin.
Guided and self-guided tours on the Underground Railroad Experience in Maryland describe the ways freedom seekers eluded capture and survived on their journeys.
Maryland’s Eastern Shore
The Eastern Shore was the birthing ground of several famous and lesser-known Underground Railroad leaders, such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Henry Highland Garnet. Numerous successful escapes originated from the rural Eastern Shore, often using waterways to travel, and yet some freedom seekers were met with the tragedy of capture and return to slavery. The Shore is home to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, a crown jewel in the Network to Freedom collection. Driving tours, walking tours and historic sites delve into these stories.
Experience the Eastern Shore’s Network to Freedom.
Baltimore’s busy city streets and the waterfront docks in Fells Point were the backdrop for a large free black population that worked and intermingled with the enslaved. Here was the perfect place for freedom seekers to blend in, hide or work alongside other African-Americans. In Baltimore and in Annapolis, black sailors called blackjacks could hide freedom seekers in cargo or carry messages to family members in distant ports. Museums and historic sites explore the stories of freedom seekers who escaped from cities, docks, nearby farms and plantations.
Experience Central Maryland's Network to Freedom.
The rolling countryside of Southern Maryland is known for its former tobacco plantations where a large enslaved population labored to support the lavish lifestyle of their owners. Yet some were able to escape oppression. A few fled slavery to join the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War. The Southern Maryland peninsulas are surrounded by water, and access to the Chesapeake and its rivers enhanced opportunities for escape. But the risk of capture was great, and some fugitives were caught. Tour former plantations and historic sites that tell these stories.
Experience Southern Maryland's Network to Freedom.
Capital and Western Regions
The area near our nation’s capital holds the roots of Josiah Henson's life, whose memoir inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write her abolitionist novel, "Uncle Tom’s Cabin." In the rural areas surrounding the capital, numerous enslaved people escaped from wealthy landowners. Some blended into the free black communities living in Washington, D.C. Others fled on foot. Thrilling escape attempts and sometimes captures ensued. Parks, house museums, and walking tours illustrate experiences on the Underground Railroad.
Experience the Capital and Western Regions' Network to Freedom.
Maryland: The Most Powerful Underground Railroad Storytelling Destination in the World
Maryland’s Freedom Fighters
Escaping Slavery on Maryland’s Underground Railroad
Maryland Network to Freedom Sites, Programs, Tours, and Research Facilities
Maryland's Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Guide: PDF, Mail Order
Look for programs and special events at Network to Freedom sites especially during Black History Month and Juneteenth. Baltimore’s African American Festival and The Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival are not-to-be-missed.
Harriet Tubman, known as the “Moses of Her People,” escaped slavery in Maryland but returned, leading about 70 enslaved men, women and children to freedom as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.. Discover more Maryland Freedom Fighters.
Frederick Douglass rose above his horrific childhood in slavery to become a self-liberated leader, orator, writer, and statesperson, working for the abolition of slavery and the education of African Americans. Discover more Maryland Freedom Fighters.
Josiah Henson’s 1849 autobiography “The Life of Josiah Henson” inspired the main character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel "Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which helped turn Americans against slavery. Discover more Maryland Freedom Fighters.
William Still, a famous Underground Railroad agent in Philadelphia, helped Harriet Tubman and hundreds more, which he chronicled in his book "The Underground Railroad." His family, once enslaved, escaped from near Denton. Discover more Maryland Freedom Fighters.
One of the most prominent African-American leaders of the 19th century described his life and his dramatic escape from slavery in his autobiography "The Fugitive Blacksmith." Pennington became a powerful Presbyterian minister, abolitionist, civil rights activist, and Underground Railroad agent. Discover more Maryland Freedom Fighters.
Henry Highland Garnet escaped from slavery near Chestertown and became a renowned minister and radical abolitionist, famous for his “Call to Rebellion” speech in 1848. Discover more Maryland Freedom Fighters.
Escaping slavery from Maryland had advantages. Many freedom seekers escaped via water aboard ships on the Chesapeake Bay bound for ports in the North.