Guided spring walk at the Gerrit Smith Estate


PETERBORO — The public is invited to a guided spring walk at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23, on the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark. Horticulturist Rebecca McElheny will identify the trees, plants, soil, ecosystems, depressions, and many other aspects of the landscape of the historic property well known for its Underground Railroad and abolition history.

The walk will include explanations of plant cycles as walkers move across the lawn, among bushes and shrubs, along the stone walls that channel the Oneida Creek, under trees of which some were growing when Gerrit Smith walked the landscape, and stand before the awesome yew. Walkers may appreciate that they are stepping in the very places that frequent 19th century guests such as John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Henry Highland Garnet, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Tubman strolled during their stays in Peterboro.

Docents for the estate will accompany the tour to briefly comment on the 19th history and the structures as they relate to the landscape. The Gerrit Smith Estate is a National Historic Landmark, and is on the National Park Service Network to Freedom (national Underground Railroad), the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail, and the Madison County Freedom Trail.

McElheny has a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture from Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. She interned at Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia and worked on native plant propagation in Pipersville, Pennsylvania. She describes herself as a “… lover of plants and all parts of their life cycles.” She now lives with many plants and animals in Madison County.

Registration for the free tour will begin at 3 p.m. in the Gerrit Smith Estate carriage barn at 5304 Oxbow Road, Peterboro.

The Underground Railroad and Black Americans in Peterboro exhibits will also be open in two of the buildings. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark is open dawn to dusk every day for those who respect the property and current COVID protocol. For more information, visit, email, or call 315-374-9605.


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