The sun was setting behind a sea of pink and steel gray clouds at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland’s Eastern shore when a few dozen, then hundreds, then thousands of migrating geese rose into the sky with an explosion of wings.
Next to these wetlands is a futuristic-looking building with an array of solar panels and green roof.
This is the new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitors Center, which the Maryland Department of Natural Resources opened last year. It honors Tubman, the antislavery freedom fighter, who lived and hid runaway slaves here among the trackless marshes and loblolly pine forests surrounding the Blackwater River.
Angela Crenshaw, assistant manager of the facility, said the center focuses in part on nature because Tubman was a master of surviving alone in the wilderness. She was a slave who escaped through the woods to freedom in the North and then returned a dozen times to personally rescue about 80 more people.
“Harriet Tubman was the ultimate outdoorswoman, which is the aspect of her life that I like to talk about the most,” Crenshaw said.