Maryland officially kicks off the Centennial commemoration of Dorchester native and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman March 8-10. While the weekend’s special events are guaranteed to increase public awareness, publicity, visitation and spending in the county, the prospects for long-term economic growth related to the Tubman heritage tourism project are just beginning.
The weekend celebration marks years of planning by economic development and natural resources officials to cement Dorchester’s reputation as one of the state’s preeminent destinations for heritage travelers. Beginning with the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway — a 125-mile “All American Road” named one of the nation’s best driving tours in 2009 – and culminating with the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park ground breaking on Saturday – Dorchester is poised to benefit from increased heritage tourism affiliated with this major economic development project.
According to State Tourism Executive Director Margot Amelia, “The byway was developed to help attract more visitors to the region, extend visitor stays and increase visitor expenditures as it leads travelers to destinations where they can dine, shop, spend the night and sightsee.” Amelia’s office also worked with the tourism offices of Dorchester and Caroline counties to prepare the community for increased visitation by training 16 tour guides and 35 byway hosts.
At the heart of the byway is the new Harriet Tubman State Park Visitor Center scheduled to open the first half of 2015. Situated on a 17-acre parcel immediately adjacent to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, the park will include: 15,000 sq. ft. Visitor Center; Exhibit Hall; Interpretive Trail; Spiritual Reflection Garden and Statue; and Picnic Pavilion. The $21M Visitor Center will incorporate many green building elements including a green roof, water and energy conservation, geothermal energy, rain garden, and recycled building materials
For further information, visit www.HarrietTubmanByway.com or call 410 228-1000.