Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Underground Railroad Trail, near Sandy Spring, MD

An image suggesting The Underground Railroad Trail near Sandy Spring, MD is the eighth image for the Days Of Yore: Montgomery County, MD project.

Part of the "Underground Railroad" Trail
near Sandy Spring, MD

Save to foursquare The trailhead begins near the Woodlawn Manor Cultural Center, an old manor, home to the Woodlawn family, a Quaker family that ran a boarding school.  This was also a place where Quakers would provide assistance to those seeking freedom around the 1850s, on the Underground Railroad.

You can take a tour of a part of the Underground Railroad.  There is a self-guided tour with a map or you can visit the website and show up on a Saturday when trained volunteer tour-guides will walk the trail with you.  This trail is part of the National Park Service's greater network of trails called The Network To Freedom.

Who are those people needing help?  Formerly known as "escaped slaves", the trained tour-guides on this segment of the Underground Railroad Experience Trail call them "freedom seekers".

It wasn't a real railroad.  Instead, it was a connection of people helping those freedom seekers get to a state, often a state north of the Mason-Dixon Line, where laws allowed them freedom from slavery.  The helpful folks would point them in a good direction, maybe give them a place to stay the night, make sure they had some food, water, medicine (if they needed it), and maybe a jacket or blanket to stay warm.  Many times, part of the trail would be through the wilderness.

While on their journey, these freedom seekers would have to dodge brambles and mud and weather and extreme temperatures.  In addition, they were being chased by people who wanted to take them back from where they had come.  The tour-guides told us that there was never a real "trail" because that would be easily followed.  There couldn't be any real markers or notes or secrets whispered to your friends.  The way through the forest had to be really hidden, otherwise the freedom seekers would be caught!

To Visit: Go to this site and find a good Saturday to go on a Tour with a trained volunteer guide.
By Car: Woodlawn Manor - 16501 Norwood Road, Sandy Spring, MD  20860

The artist took her family on a Saturday Tour with a tour guide.  She learned a lot about what it might have been like to travel through the woods.  She tried to imagine what it would be like to run for her life.  It was an incredible experience to have the opportunity to see history in action!

The artist lived in a dorm during college that had a hidden stairway.  The legend of the dorm suggested that that house had been used as part of the Underground Railroad during this time, allowing freedom seekers a place to stay the night in secret.

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