One way to approach Maryland's history is through its historic trails. Maintained by government agencies, such as the Office of Tourism, the State Highway Administration, and the National Park Service, these trails follow paths over which historical figues strode (or sailed!). From colonial explorations of Captain John Smith over Chesapeake Bay and its inlands, to Harriet Tubman's routes on the Underground Railroad, these trails crisscross the whole State, and were integral to the expansion and advancement of the nation.
Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg (Washington County), Maryland, October 2013. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Antietam Campaign: Lee Invades Maryland Trail
Covering 90 miles, the Antietam Campaign: Lee Invades Maryland trail follows the movements of Union and Confederate armies as they traveled towards each other in September 1862, meeting near Sharpsburg, Maryland. The trail also passes through Virginia, and West Virginia.
Dunker Church, Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg (Washington County), Maryland, October 2013. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Attack on Washington: The Last Invasion
The Attack on Washington: The Last Invasion trail follows the route taken by Confederate General Jubal Early's army in July 1864 when it invaded Maryland and attacked Washington, DC. The trail also follows the routes taken by Confederate forces under General Bradley Johnson and Major Harry Gilmor after they were sent to cut communication and railroad lines around Baltimore and to free the 15,500 prisoners held at Point Lookout in St. Mary's County. The trail also passes through Washington, DC, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Best Farm, Monocacy National Battlefield, Frederick (Frederick County), Maryland, May 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Baltimore: A House Divided
The Baltimore: A House Divided trail includes sites both in Baltimore and in the surrounding counties. In Baltimore, the Riot Trail follows the route taken by the 6th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment on April 19, 1861 when, while transferring to a Washington-bound train, it was attacked by Confederate sympathizers in the first bloodshed of the Civil War.
Baltimore Civil War Museum at President St. Station, 601 President St., Baltimore, Maryland, September 2014. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
Established in 2007, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is a water tour along the Chesapeake Bay. It can be accessed by boat, and covers Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The trail is over 3,000 miles in length, as boaters traverse up and down the Chesapeake Bay and itís rivers, visiting nearly 100 historic sites.
Captain John Smith, engraving by Simon van de Passe, 1616, Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, 100 Lafayette St., Havre de Grace, Maryland, June 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
To aid in navigation and experience, the Smith Trail uses Smart Buoys accessible by toll-free phone (1-877-286-9229). Buoys give boaters information on water and weather conditions, navigational information, and historical descriptions of the area during the early 1600s. They secure information from sites at the mouths of the Elizabeth River (Norfolk, VA), James River (Jamestown, VA), Patapsco River (Baltimore, MD), Rappahannock River (Stingray Point, VA), Severn River (Annapolis, MD), Susquehanna River (Havre de Grace, MD). Two more are found in the Potomac River.
Gettysburg: Invasion & Retreat Trail
The Gettysburg: Invasion & Retreat trail is actually five separate routes through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. These trails follow the Union and Confederate armies during the summer of 1863, as they traveled north towards each other and to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Maryland Monument, Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, June 2014. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway
Located on Maryland's Eastern Shore, this trail extends for 125 miles from Cambridge to the Delaware border (Mason Dixon Line). With a number of side paths, this trail is designed to tell of the Underground Railroad, as well as the culture of Maryland's Eastern Shore during the 1850s. The trail includes the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and Tuckahoe State Park. It also stops at numerous historic districts and buildings, including an actual safe house on the Underground Railroad, before ending at the Mason-Dixon Line.
John Wilkes Booth: Escape of an Assassin
The John Wilkes Booth: Escape of an Assassin trail follows the escape route taken by Maryland actor John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865 at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. The 90-mile tour includes sites in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia.
Ford's Theatre, 511 10th St. NW, Washington, DC, May 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
Opened July 2012, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is a War of 1812 trail that follows British military movements along the Chesapeake Bay (1812-1815). Paths extend through Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland, May 2015. Photo by Sarah A. Hanks.
Star-Spangled Banner Geotrail
A companion trail to the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, the Geotrail includes more than thirty sites, ranging from forts and museums to parks and nature preserves. Participants must have access to www.geocaching.com.
© Copyright October 05, 2015 Maryland State Archives