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Underground Railroad

The Baltimore Experience > Exploring the City > Underground Railroad

Although slavery was legal throughout Maryland until 1864, Baltimore had the largest free black community of any American city. Most African Americans in Baltimore were free and often worked alongside white laborers. These residents organized churches, founded mutual aid societies, and established schools. Free blacks were also active in the Underground Railroad, helping runaways from the Eastern Shore and other parts of the Chesapeake gain safe passage to Pennsylvania and beyond.

An initiative of the National Park Service, the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom links historic Underground Railroad sites and programs with the ultimate goal to coordinate preservation and education efforts. Three Baltimore sites are members of the network.



Baltimore Civil War Museum at President Street Station
Today the oldest surviving railroad station in an urban setting, President Street Station was an eyewitness to key events in the nation’s history. The station and its railroad—the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad—were key components of the Underground Railroad. Museum exhibits illustrate how a young Frederick Douglass escaped to freedom aboard a PW&B train and how an innovative Henry “Box” Brown arranged to have himself transported to Philadelphia in a wooden crate marked “direct express to Philadelphia.”

Mount Clare Museum House
The grand mansion, built in 1760, was once the center of a bustling 800-acre farm and industrial complex. Hundreds of enslaved people labored here, and during the 1700s, at least four fled to freedom. The house is now within the boundaries of 30-acre Carroll Park in west Baltimore.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2005, is dedicated to collecting, preserving and interpreting the many historic, artistic and spiritual contributions of African American Marylanders. Permanent and special exhibitions explore slavery in Maryland and the Underground Railroad and an interactive display features the choices and challenges of freedom seekers.

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