On a bright, unseasonably hot morning in early May, Susan Meredith pushed her kayak off the banks of the Little Blackwater River, a shallow, 15-mile tributary running through Dorchester County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The water, cool and dark, is almost perfectly still, broken only by the occasional leaping fish.
Today, the quiet marshes provide refuge for wildlife — ospreys, bald eagles, muskrats, the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. But 160 years ago, it was people who sought refuge in these marshes, using the water, grasses, and trees as they fled slavery. Harriet Tubman, herself born into slavery in Dorchester County in the early 1820s, led dozens of African-Americans through this region to freedom in the North as part of the Underground Railroad.