About the Park
When was Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park created?
Congress created Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland in December 2014 as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. P.L. 113-291. US Code: Title 16, Chapter 1, Subchapter LIX-RR § 410sss A previous Presidential Proclamation in 2013 had created Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Dorchester County, Maryland to recognize Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Both the national monument and the national historical park are administered as a single unit, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.
What's the difference between a national historical park and a national monument?
The biggest difference is in how these National Park Service units are created. Congress creates national parks through legislation. The President of the United States is authorized under the Antiquities Act (1906) to declare national monuments “by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States.”
Is there a difference in legal standing between parks with different designations such as a national historical park or a national monument?
No. In the 1970 General Authorities Act, Congress provided that all units of the system have equal legal standing within the National Park System. Note that there are almost 20 different designations for national park areas. Names and designations for parks are created in the Congressional legislation authorizing the sites or by the president, who proclaims national monuments under authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act.
How does this relate to Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park?
The national historical park, and the portion of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Monument that is administered by the National Park Service, are managed as a single unit of the National Park System known as Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park. While the national monument designation remains, the monument is now part of a larger whole, the national historical park.
Does Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument still exist?
Yes, and the portions of the national monument and the national historical park that are administered by the NPS are administered as a single unit. The national monument boundary is drawn to include Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park and portions of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Are Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park and the national monument administered differently or separately?
The National Park Service administers the national historical park and the national monument as a single unit so they are not administered differently or separately. The NPS works in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Maryland to commemorate and interpret Tubman’s story.
Where can I stamp my National Park Passport?
At the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, 4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek, MD 21622.
Park Boundary & Private Property Information
The legislation creating Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad NHP refers to a legislative map
(numbered T20/80,001A, March 2014) that depicts the boundaries of the national monument, the national historical park and the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Please refer to the legislative map
for the following FAQs.
What areas are included within the national historical park boundary?
The park includes portions of Dorchester, Caroline, and Talbot counties in Maryland. It is the area where Harriet Tubman was born and lived until she emancipated herself in 1849. The legislation creating Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad NHP (shown in the map linked above) depicts the boundaries of the national monument, the national historical park, and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The area hatched in green is the 480-acre Jacob Jackson home site. This property is federally-owned and is administered by NPS. The areas shown in red hatch lines are “authorized acquisition boundaries” identified for their connection to Tubman and the Underground Railroad, and are the only areas where the NPS is authorized to acquire by willing sellers, or through donation or exchange as authorized by the park’s legislation (P.L. 113-291).
Which land within the national historical park does the National Park Service administer?
Currently, the only property that the NPS administers is the 480 acre Jacob Jackson home site, the home of a free African man who delivered a message for Tubman that she was returning to guide her brothers to freedom.
How does the NPS acquire land within the park boundary?
The legislation authorizing Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad NHP identifies specific properties associated with Harriet Tubman’s story that the NPS is authorized to and may acquire in the future. These specific parcels in Dorchester, Caroline, and Talbot Counties are identified as "authorized acquisition areas." They are shown on the above linked map as red hatched areas. By law, land within this area may only be acquired by purchase with willing sellers, or through donation or exchange. The legislation specifies that no lands or interest in lands may be acquired by condemnation.
How do I know if my property is one of the ones identified for acquisition?
This map shows the legislated "authorized acquisition areas" as red striped areas. To ensure privacy, NPS public maps generally show property identified by tract numbers only and do not list names or other personal information of landowners. If you think your property lies within an authorized acquisition area, please contact the park at (410) 221-2290. We can help and provide you with more detailed information.
If my property is identified for potential acquisition, am I in danger of losing it through condemnation?
No. By law, the park legislation specifies that lands identified as “authorized acquisition areas” may only be acquired by purchase from willing sellers, or through donation or exchange. No lands or interest in lands may be acquired through condemnation. The NPS does not currently have plans to acquire more property. Even where a park is prepared to acquire land, acquisitions are always weighed against available funding and the agency’s national land acquisition priorities.
Why does the legislated boundary cover so much land if the federal government isn’t interested in owning all of it?
The boundary was drawn to include a large landscape because it is an area well known to Harriet Tubman. The scale of the boundary helps to interpret both her story and the story of the Underground Railroad. Most of the land within the boundary will remain in private hands. Only a small portion of the land within the boundary will ever be owned or operated by the National Park Service.
Are private property rights affected by being within the NPS boundary?
No. Private property owners retain rights to their property. NPS does not regulate land uses or activities such as hunting, fishing, or farming on private lands within the boundary. Those lands--including lands identified within the authorized acquisition area--are subject to no more restriction than private lands outside the boundary.
If my property lies within the boundary of the national historical park, will there be any additional restrictions on uses of my land like noise, hunting, fishing, or farming?
No. Property owners retain rights to use their private property. Nothing in the federal legislation that created Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park or Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument affects the land use rights of private property owners within or adjacent to the national historical park or national monument regarding fishing, hunting, farming or other activities. State and local laws and regulations apply.
Do uses of Blackwater Wildlife Refuge change as a result of being within the boundary of Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park?
No. Nothing in the legislation establishing either Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument or Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, changes how the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service—including regulations regarding hunting and fishing.
Where is hunting and fishing prohibited?
Consistent with the national historical park’s authorizing legislation (P.L. 113-291) and NPS laws and policies, hunting and trapping is not allowed on the 480-acre Jacob Jackson home site. NPS does not regulate land uses or activities such as hunting, fishing, or farming on private lands within the boundary. Those private lands, including lands identified within the authorized acquisition area, are not treated differently from private lands outside the boundary.