WEST CHESTER — An effort to highlight the importance and aesthetic impact of a road that connects Chester County, literally and figuratively, with pre-Civil War efforts to help free black slaves from their servitude in the South has been approved by county commissioners.

Commissioners approved a resolution to designate a portion of State Route 52 as the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad. The request has been submitted to the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway Commission and must be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“It’s important that we recognize Harriet Tubman’s story in our region and how intricate she is in the history of south Chester County on this 200th anniversary of her birth,” Mary Fanner-Short, the commission’s chairwoman, said in an interview Thursday. . “We want to honor Harriet Tubman and the many people who were involved in the Underground Railroad in Chester County.”

Local governments can propose to PennDOT that certain roads and highways be listed as “throughways” to draw attention to natural resources along the route or to educate residents and visitors about the history and culture of the area.

Identifying a six-mile stretch of Route 52 from Pocapson to Pennsbury in the great Brandywine Valley would highlight churches, Quaker meetinghouses, farms that played a role in the Underground Railroad, a system that helped slaves secretly make their way to their homes in southern states like Maryland and Virginia, north to cities like Wilmington and Philadelphia.

Born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland, in 1822, Tubman ran away from her master when she was 27. She then returned to Maryland again and again, helping 300 slaves, including members of her own family, escape to freedom to use the underground railway.

Fanner-Short said Tubman is known to have stopped in the county during one of her missions, known as the 1854 Christmas Escape. According to the Kennett Underground Railroad Center, in December of that year, Tubman arrived in the county with her members and was sent by locals to Agnew Farm in Pennsbury.

Tubman returned to the South again and again to bring fugitive slaves north to the Philadelphia area, and could use the various Quaker congregations that were part of the free “railway” system.

If the road is indeed declared a historic thoroughfare, it will provide funds to improve various locations along the road for the education and enjoyment of residents and tourists and encourage further preservation.

A resolution passed by the commissioners states:

“For nearly 20 years, the Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway Commission has worked to protect and preserve the beauty and history of the Brandywine Valley,” Fanner-Short said in an email. “Connecting Tubman and the Underground Railroad is a great opportunity to highlight the stories of Harriet Tubman and all those who helped freedom seekers.”

To reach staff writer Michael P. Relahan, call 610-696-1544.