BALTIMORE, MD – October 5, 2021 – The B&O Railroad Museum announces it has been officially designated a National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Site! Additionally, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Museum a $200,000 Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (#SHARP) grant for the Rails to Freedom: New Research and Interpretation on the B&O Railroad’s Role in the Underground Railroad.
The B&O Railroad Museum has definitively documented that at least eight freedom seekers traveled through the B&O’s Mt. Clare Station, the current home of the Museum,
constructed in 1851 as the first passenger station. It is the oldest surviving building on the Museum’s grounds and is a national historic landmark. Several of the freedom seekers who traversed through Mt. Clare were quite famous paving the way for others, such as Henry “Box” Brown from Richmond, Virginia, and William and Ellen Craft from Georgia. Henry “Box” Brown was famously shipped in a box as “dry goods” with holes cut for air and endured a harrowing 27-hour journey to seek freedom from slavery. Ellen Craft dressed as a white male planter disguising both her race and sex and traveled with her husband, William, who posed as her enslaved servant. Their daring escape was widely publicized, making them among the most famous of the freedom seekers.
“We are deeply honored to receive this designation from the National Park Service and for our site to be officially accepted as part of the National Network to Freedom Sites, it is a responsibility we take seriously,” said Kris Hoellen, Executive Director the B&O Railroad Museum. “We plan to launch a permanent exhibit with funding generously provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities in the Spring 0f 2022 sharing the stories of these freedom seekers, giving voice to their struggle and ingenuity.”
The Museum’s exhibit will share the stories of the freedom seekers’ ingenuity as well as the role the physical railroad played in the Underground Railroad examining in particular the actions of the B&O Railroad. This will be a permanent exhibit at the Museum, and one of the only in the country to explore the role of the physical railroad.
The NEH grant affords the Museum the opportunity to continue its research as the Museum believes there may be more than eight freedom seekers who traveled through Mt. Clare, and to interpret its site and the stories of the brave freedom seekers whose lives intersected with the B&O Railroad.
About the B&O Railroad Museum The B&O Railroad Museum™, a full affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of American railroading and its impact on American society, culture, and economy. The Museum is home to the oldest, most comprehensive collection of railroad artifacts in the Western Hemisphere including an unparalleled roster of 19th and 20th century railroad equipment. The 40-acre historic site is regarded as the birthplace of American Railroading and includes the 1851 Mt. Clare Station, the 1884 Baldwin Roundhouse and first mile of commercial railroad track in America. In 2019, the Museum welcomed guests from all 50 states and 40 countries. For further information on the B&O Railroad Museum, please call 410-752-2490 or visit www.BORail.org.