The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center is now open in Dorchester County, Maryland! The exhibits inside the center — located just a few miles from where Harriet Tubman was born — share this American hero’s story in powerful and moving ways. This 10,000-square-foot building and its 17-acre park make an excellent launching point for exploring the Tubman Byway, a self-guided driving tour of Underground Railroad-related sites on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The visitor center, which had its grand opening March 10-12, 2017, has attracted much attention — more than 40 media outlets were on hand to cover the opening! (See highlights of the media coverage.) The Tubman Visitor Center is open daily for self-guided tours, 9am to 5pm, except major holidays, and is located at 4068 Golden Hill Rd, Church Creek, MD 21622. Find out about guided tours of the Tubman Visitor Center and the Byway.
Delaware and Maryland Commemorate Harriet Tubman Day with the National Park Service in “Find Your Freedom” Week Events and Programs
Museums and historical societies in Delaware and Maryland will highlight themes of escape from slavery, the Underground Railroad and abolitionism. “Find Your Freedom” week is a cooperative project with the National Park Service (NPS) and other partners, celebrating the grand opening of the Harriet Tubman Visitor’s Center in Church Creek, Maryland. Public programming at Harriet Tubman State Park and National Monument begins on Saturday, March 11.
Delaware events will include special tours and programs in Wilmington, New Castle, Odessa, Dover and Seaford. Museums and sites that interpret the program themes will be open during the celebration, and include Tubman Garrett Park and the Riverwalk in Wilmington; The New Castle Court House Museum; Appoquinimink Preparatory Friends Meeting; Historic Odessa Foundation in Odessa; First State Heritage Park; John Dickinson Plantation in Dover; the Star Hill Museum in Camden; and, the Seaford Historical Society. All of the sites have been designated as “Network to Freedom” sites, programs or archives by the NPS. Most sites have Network to Freedom cancellation stamps, and stamp folders will be provided to visitors. Many of the sites are part of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in Delaware.
Run for Freedom tours; 10:00 am – 4:30 pm, John Dickinson Plantation, 340 Kitts Hummock Road, Dover, DE 19901; 302-739-3277
The John Dickinson Plantation will be offering special tours, Run for Freedom, African American history-based tours that explore the lives of three enslaved individuals who escaped from bondage.
Stories of Courage and Freedom; 9:00 am – 4:30 pm (Mon-Sat), 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm (Sun), The Old State House, 25 The Green, Dover, DE 19901; 302-744-5054
Join us at the Old State House as we celebrate National Harriet Tubman Day and begin by acquiring the Old State House Network to Freedom Cancellation Stamp. In her fight to lead others to freedom, Harriet Tubman came to Delaware in service to the Underground Railroad. Her quest for freedom inspired others in the state to join the cause. Tours each day focus on the stories of bravery, courage and freedom among Delaware citizens including Underground Railroad conductor Samuel D. Burris.
Tales of Slavery and Freedom Walking Tour of the Dover Green; 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, John Bell House, 43 The Green, Dover, DE 19901; 302-739-9194
Learn about Delaware’s complicated positions regarding freedom and slavery, and its role as a border state during the Civil War. Find out how a brave group of runaway slaves known as the Dover Eight made a daring escape from the Dover Jail with some help from Harriet Tubman at the beginning of their journey. Hear about famous African-American Richard Allen and his connections to the Golden Fleece Tavern. Beginning at 10 a.m., walking tours leave on the hour from the John Bell House and travel around The Green, lasting approximately 45 minutes. The last tours leaves at 3 pm. In the case of inclement weather, the stories from the tour will be told indoors.
Friday, March 10
Appoquinimink Friends Meeting Open House; 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, 616 W. Main Street (Rte. 299 west of Rte. 13), Odessa, DE 19730; 302-365-1330
Quakers who worship at this 1785 meeting house will be on hand to talk about historical members and events related to the Underground Railroad, especially a thought-provoking space in the attic. Local activists and meeting members John Hunn, John Alston and Daniel Corbit were known Underground Railroad agents and prominent reformers. To the west at Middletown High School is a memorial to the Hunn and Alston families, agent Samuel D. Burris and the freedom-seeking Hawkins Family. The spot includes two locally-sponsored benches that are part of the “Bench by the Road” program of the Toni Morrison Society. Parking on site; no restroom available.
Saturday, March 11
“Last Stop to Freedom,” Wilmington’s Enduring Role in the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman’s Legacy; 1:00 am – 12:30 pm, Wilmington Friends Meeting House, 401 N. West Street, Wilmington, DE 19801; 302-655-2500
Discover the lasting Quaker contributions to Wilmington and the Underground Railroad by learning about the partnership between Thomas Garrett and Harriet Tubman. An historical scavenger hunt coupled with an interactive Power Point presentation on the historic grounds of the Wilmington Friends Meeting House will provide fun, learning and lively discussion.
The Underground Railroad in Delaware – Public Program; 11:00 am – 3:00 pm Delaware History Museum and Old Town Hall, 504 N. Market St., Wilmington, DE 19801; 302-655-7161
Walk in the footsteps of freedom seekers and the abolitionists who helped them in Delaware. Meet Harriet Tubman, John Tillman, and Thomas Garrett through various interactive activities and explore the Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. Also on view will be a small temporary exhibit entitled “Deliverance in Delaware: The Underground Railroad in the First State.”
Harriet Tubman’s Tillie Escape through Seaford; 3:00 pm, Seaford Museum, 203 High Street, Seaford, DE 19973; 302-628-9828
Starting at the Seaford Museum, we will walk down to the town wharf where Harriet Tubman and slave “Tillie” arrived from Baltimore to start their journey north. Curator, Jim Blackwell, will lead this group tour that takes the route that Harriet Tubman took in Seaford as he re-tells the story of one of Harriet’s most dangerous escapes.
Saturday & Sunday, March 11 & 12
Thomas Garrett and his Role in the History of Delaware Slavery; Saturday at 11am & 1pm, and Sunday at 2pm, New Castle Court House Museum, 211 Delaware Street, New Castle, DE 19720; free but reservations required 302-323-4453
Program begins with an exploration of slavery in Delaware. The development and activities of the Underground Railroad in the state will then be described through the museum’s “Flight To Freedom” exhibit, explaining how local Abolitionist Thomas Garrett directed the 1845 escape of the Hawkins family from slavery in Maryland to freedom in Pennsylvania. The program will end in the courtroom with a discussion of the 1848 federal trial of Garrett for violation of the Fugitive Slave Act for assisting the Hawkins family. This portion of the presentation will be in the actual courtroom where the Garrett trial occurred.
We’re unofficially declaring 2017 the Year of Tubman. With the opening of the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in March, two movie projects in the works about Tubman’s life, a plan to have her likeness on the U.S. $20 bill, interest in her life has never been greater. Several events will be happening in the area of the Harriet Tubman Byway to celebrate her life. Here’s a listing of what’s planned. We are adding more events as we hear of them.
HARRIET TUBMAN EVENTS IN 2017
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference
The National Park Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Conference co-host a joint conference, “On the Edge of Freedom: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in the Borderlands.” In Cambridge, MD. Find out more.
Harriet Tubman & the Songs of Freedom
Dorchester Center for the Arts, 321 High St., Cambridge, MD 21613
Layton’s Chance Winery, 4225 New Bridge Rd, Vienna, MD 21869
Acclaimed jazz musician Marcus Shelby performs original music inspired by Harriet Tubman’s life with two performances May 19-21. One performance will happen at the Dorchester Center for the Arts in Cambridge, MD. Another performance is planned at Layton’s Chance Winery in Vienna, MD. Read more >
John Wesley Wright Concert
May 20, 2pm
Dorchester Center for the Arts, 321 High St., Cambridge, MD 21613
A member of the acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble, Wright performs with students from Salisbury University. At the Dorchester Center for the Arts in Cambridge, MD.
Reflections on Pine: Cambridge Commemorates the Civil Rights Movement, Community and Change
In the 1800s, Harriet Tubman was part of the Underground Railroad resistance movement; in the 1960s, Cambridge community members were part of their own resistance movement for civil rights. Reflections on Pine marks 50 years since the civil rights unrest in Cambridge. Look for walking tours, art exhibits, book readings, and more. Find out more >
Slave Dwelling Project
A nationwide endeavor that brings attention to little known buildings that once served as dwellings, churches, or other uses in the lives of African Americans, comes to Dorchester County. The event includes a living history troupe representing enslaved people of the 19th century. Find out more >
The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Maryland, will open to the public on Saturday, March 11, 2017. If you’re planning to come to the grand opening, here’s some helpful information.
When is the grand opening?
The grand opening weekend for the public is March 11 and March 12. We expect especially large crowds on Saturday, March 11, so if you’re planning to come that day, be prepared for traffic and lines. (And consider taking the free shuttle; see below.)
What time is the Tubman Visitor open, and is there an admission fee?
The new Tubman Visitor Center will be open daily from 9am to 5pm. Admission is free. Learn more about the Visitor Center in this Welcome Guide.
Where is the Tubman Visitor Center?
The new Tubman Visitor Center is located at 4068 Golden Hill Rd, Church Creek, MD 21622. It’s located in a rural area about 20 minutes from downtown Cambridge, Maryland. There are no gas stations and very few restaurants in the immediate area around the visitor center. Most restaurants and services are located in Cambridge.
What’s the best way for me to get to the Tubman Visitor Center on Saturday, March 11?
Because of the large crowds expected and because parking at the Tubman Visitor Center is limited, there will be free shuttles running on Saturday, March 11 AND Sunday, March 12 from downtown Cambridge to the Tubman Visitor Center, about a 20-minute drive. The shuttles will run from 10am to 4pm, with the last shuttle leaving Cambridge at 3pm. The shuttles will leave from the parking lot across from the City Hall building, 410 Academy Street in Cambridge, MD. Parking is free. Shuttles will leave every 15 minutes. On Saturday only, there will be an additional shuttle between the Tubman Visitor Center and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which is hosting its annual Eagle Festival on March 11.
What events are happening to celebrate the grand opening?
Various events are planned for grand opening weekend, both at the Tubman Visitor Center and in the area. See the full listing of grand opening events. If you can’t make it to the grand opening weekend, there will be more Tubman-related events throughout the year. See the roundup of 2017 events.
Is there more to see in the area about Harriet Tubman?
Yes! The new Tubman Visitor Center is a great launching point for exploring the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a self-guided driving tour of 36 sites related to freedom seekers in Dorchester and Caroline Counties. If you’d like to learn more about exploring the Tubman Byway, browse this website. You can also order the Tubman Byway Map & Guide or pick it up once you’re in town at the Dorchester Visitor Center (2 Rose Hill Place in Cambridge) or at the Tubman Visitor Center.
What else can I do while I’m in the area?
For more information about other things to do in the area, look at our suggested Things to Do section or browse our sister site at VisitDorchester.org. You’re also welcome to stop by the Dorchester County Visitor Center, which has local visitor info, maps, and friendly folks to answer your questions. The Dorchester Visitor Center is located right off of Route 50 at 2 Rose Hill Place, Cambridge, MD 21613.
Where can I eat?
Most of the restaurants are in Cambridge, Maryland, about a 20-minute drive from the Tubman Visitor Center. Check out restaurant descriptions on our sister site, Dorchester County Tourism.
An original oil painting of Harriet Tubman will be officially unveiled during an open house from 1 to 3pm on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center in Cambridge, MD. The event is happening in honor of the grand opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in March. The 24” x 36” painting was commissioned by Cambridge native Thomas Harding and created by Cambridge artist George Wright. Giclée prints of the painting will be available for purchase at the Harriet Tubman Museum and at Downtown Frame of Mine, which features many of Wright’s works. The Feb. 18 event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. The Harriet Tubman Museum is located at 424 Race Street in Cambridge. For more information about the event, call 410-228-7977.
Celebrate the life and heroism of a true American patriot in the original one-person play, “Harriet Tubman: Defender” on Saturday, March 4 at 7pm. The performance happens at the Dorchester Center for the Arts in Cambridge, Maryland. The play stars Eunice Lewis-Seagraves and is a production of the Heralds of Hope Theater. Tickets cost $10 each. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center. Purchase tickets in advance at EventBrite.com or by calling 410-228-3131. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door if available. This event is happening in honor of the grand opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in March.
Acclaimed jazz musician and composer Marcus Shelby comes from California to perform original music inspired by Harriet Tubman’s life during two performances May 19-21. One performance happens at the Dorchester Center for the Arts, 321 High St. in Cambridge, MD. Another performance is planned for Layton’s Chance Winery, 4225 New Bridge Rd. in Vienna, MD. A fixture of the San Francisco blues and jazz scene, Shelby has been voted best jazz musician by numerous Bay Area publications. His work and music has focused on sharing the history, present, and future of African American lives, on social movements in the United States of America, and on early childhood music education. He and his trio performed in Cambridge, MD, in 2013 as part of the events commemorating the 100th anniversary of Tubman’s passing.