Montrose Parkway to become Josiah Henson Parkway in Montgomery Co.

The Montgomery County Planning Board on Thursday approved a resolution to rename Montrose Parkway the Josiah Henson Parkway after the famed abolitionist.

The board said the parkway runs through the former plantation property of Isaac Riley, where Henson was enslaved from 1795 to 1830. That stretch is located in North Bethesda.

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“We are proud to commemorate the Rev. Josiah Henson’s contributions to end slavery with this new street name,” Montgomery Planning Director Gwen Wright said in a news release.

“We hope that everyone who travels on Josiah Henson Parkway will take a moment to think about how their lives may have been different if it were not for his bravery and perseverance.”

Henson eventually escaped to Canada with his wife and family, helped establish a settlement there and led 118 other enslaved people from the U.S. to freedom as a conductor of the Underground Railroad.

Henson’s autobiography, “The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada” inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Stowe’s novel was known both in the U.S. and abroad, and Henson’s work as an abolitionist made him hugely influential.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration are expected to install the new street signs for Josiah Henson Parkway in early March.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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