May 11, 2017

Guilford Community Celebrates Underground Railroad Trail

On Wednesday, May 10, the Guilford community gathered to celebrate the newly built Underground Railroad Trail and viewing platform in the Guilford Woods. The trail guides visitors on a journey through the woods to a 300+ year-old poplar tree that stood as a silent witness to the courageous actions of black and white people who worked together secretly to end slavery.

James Shields ’00 led visitors on a guided tour along the trail, infusing the journey with fascinating historical anecdotes and moving spiritual songs that gave a glimpse into the lives of enslaved Africans struggling for freedom.

Crystal Norton ’16 said that when she was a student, no one could find the tree, so she suggested that the Class of 2016 raise money to help build the trail. “It’s just a really important part of history that needs to be saved.”

A $15,000 grant from the Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation, support from the Office of the President, and the 2016 Senior Class Gift are funding the entire project, which includes the development of online curriculum for public school students to learn about local Underground Railroad activities. The trail and the viewing platform allow for these students to have a place-based experience as well. The Greensboro Fat Tire Society, in a barter arrangement, built the majority of the sustainable trail, and Carraway Construction Company built the platform with Foundation funds. The 2016 Senior Class Gift will be used to purchase an interpretive sign at the beginning of the trail.

The work of the Underground Railroad Project is happening through the efforts of a dedicated group of Guilford community members. The original grant team of Wess Daniels, Gwen Erickson, James Shields ’00, and Julie Burke expanded to include David Petree, Hali Rose Kohls ’15, Tiffany Holland ’97, Mika Davis and Kate Hood ’76.

To schedule a tour, please send a message to or call 336.316.2442.