The Underground Railroad

View From the Lighthouse: The Underground Railroad

This special temporary exhibit was on display upstairs at the Choptank River Lighthouse between 2017 and 2019. While the original Lighthouse was not standing  on the waterfront in Cambridge during the middle years of the 1800s, the views that the Lighthouse offers to visitors today nonetheless give a commanding introduction to the stories of Dorchester County native Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.
View from the Lighthouse

Seeing the Landscape of Slavery & Freedom

The materials in the exhibit walked visitors around the Lighthouse, taking in four different views they can take in from the deck and explaining how each view speaks to the landscape and stories of Underground Railroad times.
  • Downriver, toward the Chesapeake Bay, is the story of Harriet Tubman's family roots and her grandmother's arrival on these shores from Africa.
  • Upriver, beyond the Frederick Malkus Bridge, the banks of the Choptank River run along one of the most popular routes taken by slaves striving to reach freedom in the north along the Underground Railroad.
  • Into Cambridge along High Street is the site of the first escape Tubman ever helped to orchestrate after making her own run to freedom in 1849.
  • Across the river, in Talbot County, is the story another fascinating escapee, Moses Viney, who made his run to freedom from a farm near Trappe. Talbot County is also the birthplace of the famed abolitionist orator and writer Frederick Douglass.

Linking Our Waterfront with Keystone Stories of Our Heritage

"With this exhibit, we wanted to try and add something new and different for our visitors, both local residents and tourists alike," says Cassie Burton, the president of the Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation, a community nonprofit that manages the visitor experience at the city-owned facility. "This exhibit is all about tying our beautiful waterfront in with the incredible stories our community has to tell."

Clockwise from top left in the image at right: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Rev. Samuel Green, and Moses Vinney
Underground Railroad Exhibit Photo

The People Behind the Exhibit

The exhibit materials were written by Jim Duffy, the part-time executive director of the Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation. Duffy is also the author of "The Tubman Travel Companion: 32 Underground Railroad Journeys on Delmarva." The exhibit was designed by Jill Jasuta and printed by Mid-Shore Graphics.

Support for the Exhibit: Your Donations at Work

The exhibit is a grassroots affair, financed through the generosity of donors from the local community and beyond who contribute to the Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation during its annual giving campaign and support its other fundraising efforts. For more information, visit Choptank River Lighthouse and Choptank River Lighthouse Facebook Page. The Cambridge Lighthouse Foundation can also be reached by email and 410-463-2653.