America's Journey Stories on display at Abingdon library beginning Saturday

For the first time, Harford County will host an official Smithsonian exhibit when Journey Stories, a look at how and why Americans have traveled since the country's inception, opens at the Abingdon library Saturday.

The exhibit, which will be open though July 6, focuses on themes of immigration, migration and transportation and how these aspects shaped the nation.

The exhibit, which will open at 9:30 a.m., will be divided into different sections for each theme and include items such as panels, photographs and maps, Bethany Hacker, community relations specialist for Harford County Public Library, said.

"It's different journeys Americans have taken," Hacker said about Journey Stories. "There's an introductory section about why we, as Americans, feel the need to move and why we enjoy this freedom."

She described it as "part of the American way."

Immigrating and migration is an inherent trait people in this country have, Hacker said, dating from when many our ancestors came from other countries and traveled west.

"Transportation played an important part in making us feel free, but also allowing us to populate the entire country," she said of another section of the exhibit. Transportation takes a look at railroads, plane travel and how "car culture is uniquely American."

Harford County Public Library has been working on the exhibit for months, Hacker said, and "we're really excited about it."

The Harford County Department of Community Services also put together related exhibits at community centers in the county in Bel Air, Havre de Grace and Fallston.

Those exhibits, also open through July 6, capture important aspects of the journey of the county and its citizens through history, according to Community Services Director Elizabeth Hendrix.

At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Vincent Cannato, associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Boston and author of "American Passage: The History of Ellis Island," will speak about his book and be part of a discussion with those interested in learning about the historic Ellis Island.

Other library branches around the county will also host Journey Stories exhibits that directly pertain to Harford, which also open Saturday and run through July 6.

"There's so much interesting history in Harford County that deals with these exact same [themes]," Hacker said.

Highway Hospitality, also at the Abingdon branch, explores the old Route 40 and its development of motels, diners and auto repair shops that catered to families on vacation and the hospitality industry in the 1960s.

At the Edgewood branch, posters, advertising and artifacts, including ice cream meant for space travel, details Harford's history with food and how travel has changed it.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see "The Building of Bel Air" at the McFaul Activity Center, going back to horse trails and the Ma & Pa Railroad.

"Fugitives, Accessories and Catchers: The Underground Railroad" will be on exhibit at the Bel Air branch. People can read stories from those in Harford County who experienced both sides of the Underground Railroad.

The Aegis recalls the county's history at "Journey Through Harford History" at the Veronica "Roni" Chenowith Activity Center in Fallston. Newspaper pages recall major events from Harford's past and how they changed the county.

The Chenowith Center exhibit also follows Harford County's history in the 19th and 20th centuries based on the definitive book written about much of that the period, C. Milton Wright's "Our Harford Heritage."

The almighty dollar is the topic of "Money and Migration: Population and the County Economy," on display at the Havre de Grace Activity Center. This exhibit takes a look at the rise of technology in Harford County, women in the workplace and success and failures at factories.

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