Markers on the Road to Freedom: A Slideshow

Explore the Underground Railroad, from Harriet Tubman's birthplace to a stately Philadelphia mansion.

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    Dorchester County Tourism

    Harriet Tubman

    Nicknamed the “Black Moses,” Tubman is portrayed by a re-enactor during a tour of Underground Railroad sites in and around Cambridge, Md. Tubman, whose real name was Araminta Ross, was born a slave in 1822, fled to freedom in Pennsylvania only to return as a conductor on the Railroad, the network used to aid slaves in their escapes.

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    Dorchester County Tourism

    Harriet Tubman Museum and Learning Center

    Exhibitions in this small museum located in Cambridge, Md., offer details on the life of Tubman and some vivid history of Underground Railroad activity in the mid-1800s. Tubman was born nearby and spent much of her early life in this area. The proximity to safer areas in Pennsylvania attracted hundreds of slaves to escape from plantations concentrated in this area.

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    Dorchester County Tourism

    Bucktown Village Store

    This small store is the site where Harriet Tubman, attempting to assist a slave escape in 1847, was struck and injured by a brick. After recovery, Tubman became one of the best-known abolitionists in U.S. history. The store, operated by the Bucktown Village Foundation, provides a look into local life in rural Maryland in the antebellum period.

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    Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing

    Belmont Mansion

    Built in the 1700s in Philadelphia, this stately home, owned by a well-known local judge, was believed to have offered shelter to slaves passing through Pennsylvania as they made their way further North. Docents conduct regular tours of the mansion, offering anecdotes about the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia. It’s a good place for visitors to learn about the black culture of this area in the 19th century.

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    Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing

    Johnson House

    The house is a stately mansion in the Germantown area of Philadelphia. In the 1800s, owners Samuel and Jennet Johnson, local Quakers, allowed fugitive slaves to stay here as they made their way to freedom. The house was part of an elaborate network of safe houses in and around the abolitionists’ stronghold of Philadelphia. Guides offer tours of the mansion by appointment.

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    Ohio Historical Society

    Rankin House

    Presbyterian minister John Rankin turned this home in Ripley, Ohio, into one of the most reliable safe houses on the Underground Railroad. Fugitive slaves would arrive and eventually make their way down a long staircase that led from the house. The strategic location of the house, near the Ohio River, made it one of the first stops the escapees made after fleeing Kentucky on the Southern side of the river.

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    National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

    National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

    This Cincinnati-based museum provides a comprehensive tour of the plight of slaves from their capture in Africa to their shipment to America and eventual enslavement. But the most vivid and moving exhibitions are the films, displays, artifacts and documents that tell the story of the approximately 100,000 slaves who fled the plantations for freedom.

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    National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

    The Slave Pen Exhibition

    One of the most poignant displays at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, this pen was used to hold slaves on a plantation in Kentucky. Donated by the family of the plantation owner, it was dismantled and rebuilt after the center opened in 2004.

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    National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

    Slave Pen

    This two-story structure was used to hold slaves on a plantation in Mason County, Ky. The original owner, Revolutionary War captain John Anderson, imprisoned slaves here before selling them in Mississippi and Louisiana. The slaves were tethered by a row of wrought iron rings holding a chain along one wall of the cabin. In 2004 the pen was moved to the Cincinnati-based National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.