Great Dismal Swamp

The Dismal Swamp will reopen on 10/31/17 after being closed for more than a year because of damage from Hurricane Matthew. The trees have been cleared, but there's a layer of green duckweed now.
Courtesy of the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center

The Dismal Swamp Canal will reopen Tuesday under restricted conditions. The Army Corps of Engineers closed it more than a year ago, after damage from Hurricane Matthew.

Great Dismal Swamp
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to reverse more than two centuries of damage to sensitive peat soil in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Most Americans know about the Underground Railroad, the route that allowed Southern slaves to escape North. Some slaves found freedom by hiding closer to home, however — in Great Dismal Swamp.

The swamp is a vast wetland in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. In George Washington's time, it was a million acres of trees, dark water, bears, bobcats, snakes and stinging insects. British settlers, who first arrived in 1607, believed the swamp was haunted.

By 1620, some of their slaves may have overcome that fear to find freedom there.

Great Dismal Swamp
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatdismalswamp/

It's tough to imagine the 112,000 muck-filled, bug-swarmed acres of the Great Dismal Swamp looking like paradise. But for enslaved people in the 18th- and 19th-century, the swamp provided protection from those who wished to keep them in bondage.