News from the DNR Office of Communications

Harriet Tubman State Park Plans Completed

Memorial to Underground Railroad’s most famous conductor slated to open in 2013, 100 years after her death

Annapolis, Md. (October 25, 2010) — Governor Martin O’Malley today announced that the concept plans for the Harriet Tubman State Park Visitor Center have been completed, with the final design on track to be ready in early 2011. This historic endeavor will create the first State Park in Dorchester County, which is slated to open by 2013 — 100 years after the passing of Harriet Tubman.

“Harriet Tubman is a true American hero whose dedication and courage continue to inspire all of us today to stand up for what we believe,” said Governor O’Malley. “This facility will connect community members and visitors to the rich legacy of Tubman’s life, her selfless leadership of the Underground Railroad and her extraordinary humanitarian efforts.”

The park was designated in direct response to growing interest among local, regional and national stakeholders and relatives of Tubman to share her life and legacy in her beloved homeland on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

The park is being developed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development in cooperation with Dorchester County, Caroline County and area residents. The Maryland Department of General Services will manage the design and construction project for DNR.

“Governor O’Malley is to be commended for his leadership in establishing this new park, which will connect the past, present, and future into an educational experience that can be shared by everyone,” said Donald Pinder, President of the Harriet Tubman Organization. “The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park will remind our youth and all generations that freedom should not be taken for granted.”

Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and Congressman Frank Kratovil are pursuing federal legislation to create a National Historical Park including significant lands in Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot Counties where the freedom fighter was born, lived and traveled. The legislation will enhance collaboration between the Maryland Park Service, the National Park Service and USFWS Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge to jointly manage and protect these significant natural landscapes, and allow for federal participation in the cost of construction, management and interpretation of the Tubman Visitor Center at the State Park.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park was created in 2007 on the 17.3-acre Linthicum tract, which was acquired through a swap with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Tubman Visitor Center will feature interpretive exhibits highlighting Tubman’s life growing up on the Eastern Shore, her work with the Underground Railroad and her civil rights advocacy. The center will also serve as a as the interpretive hub for the federally-designated Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a national model for sustainable and environmentally-responsible building, and will provide a multi-sensory experience for an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 annual visitors. The State Park amenities will include a memorial walking trail, reflection pond and pavilion. Completion of the construction phase of the projects is contingent on funding.

Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County in 1822 and escaped slavery at the age of 27 years. She was known to have returned to Maryland's Eastern Shore 13 times, freeing approximately 70 enslaved family members and others. Her abilities to live off the land and lead people to escape bondage in hostile environmental conditions were forged in these landscapes; her success stemmed from her intimate knowledge of the Shore’s woodlands and swamps.

In September, the Harriet Tubman Organization in Cambridge and the Maryland Park Service hosted a reception for stakeholders to learn more about the future of the Park, which included architectural presentations on the building and exhibit design. Click here for artist renderings and more information.

   October 25, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at