February 3, 2015 Amtrak and the Underground Railroad

Kimberly Woods

Amtrak Contact

202 906.3860

Black History Month celebration highlights Maryland and Pennsylvania sites as part of the National Underground Network to Freedoms

WASHINGTON – During Black History Month, Amtrak is highlighting two areas along its right of way in Maryland and Pennsylvania that the National Park Service (NPS) says provide significant contribution to the understanding of the Underground Railroad in American history.

The Underground Railroad was a network for those with help, or sometimes without assistance, escaped slavery in the Mid-Atlantic States and was resourceful enough to find a means to head north to the free states or Canada during the antebellum years. The NPS established the Network to Freedom to connect more than 500 local historic sites, museums, archives and interpretive programs relating to the Underground Railroad.

The Perryville Railroad Ferry and Station site in Maryland is located along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and was accepted into the NPS Network to Freedom in October 2014. Former slave and leader of the abolitionist movement, Frederick Douglass, is one of many who escaped slavery by crossing the Susquehanna River on a steam ferry from Havre de Grace and arrived at the Perryville railroad station located on Susquehanna Point to ride the former Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad north. The old railroad station was replaced in the early 1900s and was located near where an Amtrak electrical substation now stands.

The 80-mile Keystone Route, now part of the longer Amtrak Keystone Corridor, extended between Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pa., and was accepted into the NPS Network to Freedom in September 2010. Beginning around 1835, African-American lumber merchants used rail box cars fitted with secret false-end compartments to hide escaping slaves and transport them on the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad to the pro-abolitionist Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, which provided aid and assistance on their journey to freedom.

Amtrak is also honoring Black History Month nationwide with a wide range of events from award presentations, ceremonies and exhibitions to highlight the contributions of African Americans to history and culture. A list of some of the special activities:

  • Brooklyn Nets Partnership: The Amtrak Pioneer Award will be presented during the Brooklyn News game on Friday at the Barclays Center. The award recognizes local community leaders who have made a positive impact in the New York, N.Y., metro area. The Amtrak Pioneer Award was presented earlier this month to community leaders in the Washington, D.C., metro area in partnership with the Washington Wizards.
  • New York Penn Station: Exhibits will be on display and presentations will be given on Feb. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 3 to 5 p.m. On Feb. 25, the Dance Theater of Harlem will present a live performance between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Washington Union Station: The station will host the 18th Annual Black History Celebration Program, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 21. This year’s event will honor AfricanAmerican women in media. Television news anchor Andrea Roane will be a guest speaker.
  • Philadelphia 30th Street Station: The station will host a marketplace and health fair on Feb. 26. On Feb. 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., dancers, singers and speakers will give presentations.
  • African American Museum in Philadelphia: Amtrak and the museum will host an event on Feb. 28 to support “Locomotive,” a children’s book about trains. Visit the museum’s website for more information.
  • B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore: Amtrak is sponsoring an African-American exhibit that highlights passenger rail travel during segregation and the chefs and waiters who worked on B&O dining cars. Visit the museum’s website for more information.
  • Newark Museum: Amtrak is a sponsor of the museum’s Black History Month activities and events. Visit the website of the New Jersey museum for dates and times.

About Amtrak®

Amtrak is America’s Railroad®, the nation’s intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator. Amtrak and its state and commuter partners move people, the economy and the nation forward. Formally known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak is governed by a nine member board of directors appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Anthony R. Coscia is board chairman and Jeffrey R. Moreland is vice chairman. In FY 2014, nearly 31 million passengers traveled on Amtrak on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Enjoy the journey® at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter (@Amtrak) and check out our blog at blog.amtrak.com.