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Network to Freedom Webinar Series

Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc. and the National Park Service (NPS) Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program presented part one of a two-part webinar series focused on cultural heritage program development using underground railroad sites and related histories. Part one of the series took place April 25th simulcast from the World Trade Center building in Baltimore, MD.  Keilah Spann, Director of Heritage Programming for the heritage area and Diane Miller, National Program Manager for the NPS Network to Freedom (NTF) program facilitated the meeting. There were over 40 on-line participants and additional in-house attendees from the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and the Maryland Office of Tourism and Development. Scheduled presenters included an architect, planners, and heritage area personnel that have used underground railroad stories to develop successful heritage preservation and tourism initiatives.

On Wednesday, April 27th in-house webinar participants took a tour of Mount Clare mansion, one of many NTF sites in the state of Maryland. Mount Clare was built over 250 years ago and is the home of Charles Carroll, Barrister. The mansion was once the hub of an 800-acre agricultural operation and one of the nation’s largest industrial complexes, the Baltimore Iron Works. Over 200 enslaved African Americans labored for Carroll at the Baltimore Iron Works and at the Mount Clare plantation. There are several documented slave escapes from these sites. Participants were able to see an example of interpretation of plantation history that included the history of the enslaved people whose labor helped to cultivate the site. 

Part two of the series will take place in August and will focus on researching and submitting successful nominations to the NTF program. Nominations can include sites of documented escapes, routes, buildings, and contemporary repositories for the study of related histories. There are currently three official Underground Railroad Network to Freedom sites in the state of Louisiana: River Road African American Museum (Donaldsonville), Los Adaes State Historic Site (Natchitoches), and the Cammie G. Henry Research Center at Northwestern State University (Natchitoches). Cane River National Heritage Area has supported nominations for both sites listed in Natchitoches. In 2015, the heritage area assisted in funding research for a site near Cloutierville currently being nominated to the NTF program by local ethnographer Rolonda Teal.

For more information about the webinar program in August and for more information about the series please contact Keilah Spann at

The NPS National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom is a program that tells the story of resistance against the institution of slavery in the United States through escape and flight.

Figure 1. (left to right) Keilah Spann (Cane River NHA), Ally Spongr (Niagara Falls NHA), Diane Miller (NPS Natl. Network to Freedom Prog.), Jim Ogle (Freedom's Frontier NHA), Shawn Pomaville (MotorCities NHA), Marci Ross (Maryland Office of Tourism)

Figure 2. Mount Clare Mansion (Baltimore, MD)

Figure 3. Information on the enslaved African Amer. who lived and labored for the Carroll family operations.