Dorchester County and the legacy of a great American hero • Earth.com

Dorchester County and the legacy of a great American hero

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a network of rivers, marshes, canals, and ponds in Dorchester County, Maryland. This is where Harriet Tubman, one of America’s greatest heroes, was born into slavery.

“As early as the age of six, Araminta ‘Minty’ Ross – who later changed her name to Harriet Tubman – spent long hours slogging through the muck of the Little Blackwater River in Dorchester County, Maryland, to check on muskrat traps for the people who had enslaved her. It was frigid, challenging work, often done barefoot and in the fall or winter when muskrats grow their plushest pelts,” said NASA.

“The survival, navigation, and foraging skills she began honing on those winter outings would later prove useful when she escaped her captors in 1849 and fled to Pennsylvania.” 

However, Tubman was not content with her freedom alone. She became the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used to lead enslaved African Americans to freedom in the North and Canada. It’s estimated that Tubman made 13 missions to rescue 70 enslaved people, including family and friends, using this network.

“I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say: ‘I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger,’” said Tubman.

During the Civil War, Tubman served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army. In one notable expedition, the Combahee River Raid, she helped liberate more than 700 slaves in South Carolina. 

After the war, Tubman dedicated her life to helping impoverished former slaves. Her legacy is one of courage, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to freedom and justice. 

The photograph of Dorchester County includes the Brodess Farm, where Harriet Tubman lived and worked as a child. It also features Joseph Stewart’s Canal, where she helped cut and transport timber. The image was captured on January 22, 2024 by the Operational Land Imager-2 on Landsat 9.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Michala Garrison, using GIS data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey

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