thomas stone national historic site

Port Tobacco, MD – Hiking in Southern Maryland is always fun, but what if there was a hiking trail that was not only fun but educational? There is. The Thomas Stone National Historic Park in Port Tobacco has a two-mile trail around the edges of the historic plantation, through wooden glens that eventually leads to the farm’s 19th century stables and corn crib, then past the historic mansion where one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence lived.

Before the American Revolution, Stone was a planter and a lawyer. He and his wife Margaret built their home, known as Haberdeventure, in the early 1770s.

A well-respected lawyer and politician, Thomas Stone was one of four signers of the Declaration of Independence from the Maryland colony.  He served as a Continental Congressman and was one of the framers of the Articles of Confederation. When war with Great Britain erupted, he deftly used his skills as a lawyer and politician to safeguard the rights of American citizens and was one of 56 men to sign the Declaration of Independence.thomas stone

The park established the two-mile trail network when the National Park Service acquired the site in 1997.

It begins at the edge of a field next to the visitor’s center and winds through fields and rolling woodlands. Along the trail you come to a tenant’s farmer’s house from the 20th century, off limits to the public. The site is surrounded by old growth walnut trees.

The trail has seen variations and changes over the years, but winds not only past Haberdeventure, but behind the house where a curious brick wall encompasses most of the back yard. The Stone family owned the property from 1770 to 1936, when it was sold and became a horse farm. That bricked wall along the outer edge of the backyard was part of an ornamental garden constructed in the 20th century.

When the National Park Service took ownership of the property, they left the brick wall in place to ensure that water drains away from the manor house.

Continue on the path and you come to the gravesite of Stone and many family members.

This year in particular, hikers need to be prepared for ticks. My walk was fraught with at least a dozen of the little bloodsuckers before I was done. With the lack of any real winter, they seem to abound. Take proper precautions and a thorough shower when you get home is definitely in order.

The site is wonderful. Guided tours of Haberdeventure are conducted from March to November. To tour the grounds or hike the trail is free of charge. The site is only open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. through Dec. 23. The park is closed from Jan. 1 through March 4.

There are several special events scheduled this year, including Flag Day June 17; Independence Day, July 4 with lectures, tours and a wreath-laying ceremony; and The War of 1812 Along the Potomac Aug. 19.

The Thomas Stone National Historic Site is located at 6655 Rose Hill Road, Port Tobacco.

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com