Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
This 27,000-acre refuge contains wetlands and forests similar to those of the mid-19th century. These wetlands provided protection to freedom seekers, who followed the rivers northward, hid in the forests and marshes, foraged for food and struggled through water to throw pursuers off their trail.
The wooded forests, marshland and waterways that characterize the Refuge are largely unchanged from the time that Harriet Tubman lived and worked in Dorchester County. The Blackwater NWR Visitor Center is situated halfway between Bucktown to the east where her enslaver, Edward Brodess, lived and she spent portions of her childhood, and the plantation to the west where her father labored and where she had likely been born. The trails and waterways at Blackwater offer interpretation about life on this landscape during the antebellum period. They offer a place for visitors to see birds, wildlife and environs that were a part of Harriet’s life.
Knowledge of the terrain was vital to survival while hiding and fleeing to freedom. Harriet and others had to successfully navigate the land and waterways, trap and forage for food, and hide from their pursuers. Fleeing slaves often suffered from weather extremes without proper shelter and clothing to protect them from the elements. Though Harriet is not known to have liberated others from this area, several escapes did occur within the Refuge boundaries.
For more information, visit www.fws.gov/blackwater/, or call 410-228-2677.
GPS Coordinates: 38.444829,-76.119574