Walk to Freedom Route: Galveston to Houston

Our Walk to Freedom journey from Galveston to Houston begins on Galveston Island at the historic Reedy Chapel.

Its supposed to follow the Emancipation National Historic Trail currently proposed by the National Park Service which is still being reviewed as part of a feasibility study.

“The proposed trail starts in Galveston at the Osterman Building and Reedy Chapel, where Major General Gordon Granger announced the federal order freeing slaves on June 19, 1865—a date now celebrated as Juneteenth. From Galveston, the trail extends to Houston’s Fourth Ward, where emancipated slaves settled during Reconstruction and built an enclave known as Freedmen’s Town. Advocates say the trail will bring to life the stories of enslaved people in Texas, many of whom didn’t learn of their freedom until Granger’s announcement, two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.”

In researching the trail, a NPS representative informed me “National Historic Trails are very different from National Scenic Trails in that they are not meant to be “hike throughs” or accessible from end to end. With few exceptions, National Historic Trails cross many jurisdictions and land ownership statuses and are NOT owned or managed by a single entity.  Rarely are National Historic Trails developed for pedestrian use, most commonly specific points of interest are accessed by car but there are occasional short segments that can be hiked or biked.”

We will be following a journey northward taken by a Freedom Seeker (no name given) “who stole away under the cover of darkness” around June 24, 1865. (The newly emancipated Americans were required to have a pass to leave the island.)

Our route zig-zags and intersects with parts of two of the land trails being studied. From there everything about the walking route is subject to change. At this point its a living breathing document in its third revision.

The first route we considered was a direct route to Houston following old railroad lines, but  was panned by a number of local historians as not being authentic. The second route was better but took us too far west toward Alvin, Texas and off the mark. This third iteration, which takes us through Galveston, Brazoria, and Harris counties, we’ve been told is closer to the actual route that may have been taken by some Freedom Seekers.

Galveston to Houston Journey Map