Byway and State Park Named to Honor Freedom Seeker

March 9, 2013

Harriet TubmanGOVERNOR MARTIN O’MALLEY CELEBRATES COMMEMORATION OF EASTERN SHORE NATIVE HARRIET TUBMAN

To commemorate the life and legacy of African American abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, Governor Martin O’Malley today joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and other state and local officials to unveil the 125-mile Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, and break ground on the site for the 17-acre Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center.

“Frederick Douglass reportedly told Harriet Tubman, ‘much that you have done would seem improbable to those who do not know you as I know you.’ While none of us can ever know Harriet in the same way, we choose to dedicate this park, center and byway to her legacy, so that her courage and heroism will never be forgotten,” said Governor O’Malley. “We now have an opportunity to tell Harriet Ross Tubman’s story to hundreds of thousands of people. Today, let us rededicate ourselves to honoring her legacy.”

“Harriet Tubman’s selfless commitment to freeing enslaved Americans on the Underground Railroad is a reminder that one determined person—no matter her station or the odds against her – can make a tremendous difference,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Salazar. “The sites we establish here today in her honor will be inspiration for generations to come, and reflect the highest goals of our America’s Great Outdoors initiative – to reconnect Americans with our national heritage.”

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway preserves and recounts the life story of Harriet Tubman and her courageous actions as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Originating on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, this 125-mile scenic road traverses Dorchester and Caroline counties, revealing the distinctive and beautiful landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway was designated as one of the best driving tours in the nation in 2009 by the Federal Highway

Administration for its scenic beauty and significant history. It is one of only 31 distinctive “All-American Roads” nationwide.
At the heart of the Byway is the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park. Slated to open in 2015, the park will feature a 15,000-square foot Visitor Center, exhibit hall and theater, memorial garden, trails and a picnic pavilion. The building will also be LEED-certified, with a green roof, recycled materials, energy efficient lighting and water conservation devices. Exhibit rooms will immerse the visitor into the life of Tubman, from her childhood to time on the Underground Railroad and her continuous advocacy for justice.

The Visitor Center construction is estimated to support as many as 225 local jobs in all facets of the construction industry over the course of a year. In addition, the Harriet Tubman State Park will directly support 10 full-time employees and additional jobs related to hospitality tour guides and recreational activities. In the initial stages, approximately $8 to $10 million in annual economic benefits will be generated from visitation to the State Park, and increase to as much as $20 million annually.

In another effort to honor Tubman’s life, Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski co-sponsored federal legislation, the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park Act, to establish national historic parks in Tubman’s name in both Maryland and New York. Additionally, Congressman Andy Harris introduced companion legislation, H.R. 513, to preserve Tubman’s significant landscapes in Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot Counties.

For more information on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad 2013 Initiative, visit www.harriettubmanbyway.com.

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