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Freeborn Trails is a meditation on the promise of freedom offered by the Hudson River, “express track” of the Underground Railroad, as well as the many riverfront estates that offered access to it, like the 160 acres purchased in 1799 by abolitionist Methodist minister Rev. Freeborn Garretson, a portion of which Wilderstein stands on today. Using found “EMPIRE” brand bricks and pebbles harvested from the river, the design of each “station” is based on the legendary patterns quilted by enslaved women who once communicated in code the movements of the Underground Railroad. Freeborn Trails inscribes the landscape with traces of an unwritten history of the “American Picturesque.”
Special thanks for research help to:
- Prof. Myra B. Young Armstead, author of "Freedom's Gardener"
- Nancy Kelly, Town of Rhinebeck Historian
- Ashley Hurlbert-Biagini and Susan Stessin-Cohn, authors of "In Defiance, Runaways From Slavery in New York's Hudson River Valley, 1735-1831"