Black History Month Series

The Past

The Underground Railroad Retold

All abroad! Next nature stop: freedom. Clandestine in scope, the United State’s life-risking Underground Railroad became one of the most well-organized networks by abolitionists to usher enslaved people – approximately 100,000 – from the American South to the North. Even the West. Primarily documented from 1810 to 1850, the freedom train’s allegorical “conductors” strategically mapped out and commonly led a matrix of “stations.” These stations guided runaways into liberation and provided temporary care. Some stations were shipyards. Others were safe houses (churches, barns, businesses). Modes of transportation used included boats, wagons, and freedom by foot.

Travel with Tubman

Harriet Tubman served as one of the railroad’s distinguished conductors. She learned about the secret communications that happened on trade routes and applied the course knowledge. Her leadership as an outdoor navigator and wilderness survival expert earned her the Biblical title of “Black Moses.” She, along with fellow conductors, operated canals, trails, bays, rivers, ferries, and forests as routes to help enslaved people escape. Tubman is known for guiding more than 13 trips to the South. It’s estimated she freed more than 70 enslaved people, including family and friends. Guess what: There’s an app for her. Travel with Tubman here.

The Present

Outdoor Afro Community Conductors

In the spirit of the historical railroad’s national reach and mission, Outdoor Afro selects and trains a network of more than 100 volunteer leaders who lead their neighborhoods in nature. With networks in 60 cities and up to 32 states throughout the United States, volunteer leaders guide more than 60,000 people nationwide annually to explore land, water, and wildlife. Volunteers help reintroduce local Black history stories like the Underground Railroad and Tubman. Discover 2023 networks near you in our four regions:  MidwestNortheastSouth, and West. Virtually visit these trails and tours identified by the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program and periodically toured by local Outdoor Afro networks throughout each year:

Get Involved

Support our continued efforts to share Outdoor Afro network activities that reconnect communities to outdoor conservation, recreation, and education of Black history narratives like this one: