Roaming West Virginia: Harpers Ferry

Roaming West Virginia

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. – There’s a place where two rivers meet over in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. It is also the site of an abolitionist’s raid on its town.

The historic community of Harpers Ferry is like stepping back into the past. You can take a stroll along its streets, visit exhibits and museums or just spend the day or the weekend here.

George Washington envisioned military strength and chose Harpers Ferry as the site for a U.S. Armory.  Factories from the early 1800s witnessed innovations that fueled the Industrial Revolution.

Several stories make Harpers Ferry a part of our state’s history. Including ones about transportation, industry, African-American History, the Civil War, and John Brown’s Raid.

John Brown’s Fort is about more than just seeing the building.  You can also read the complex history that began in 1848. The fort had four locations in Harpers Ferry, and in 1891 the fort was sold, dismantled, and transported to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illnois. A journalist in 1894 spearheaded a campaign to get the fort returned to Harpers Ferry. 

Most of the town became part of the National Park Service and is maintained by the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The park consists of land that reaches into three states:  West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.

Harpers Ferry brings visitors not only from several states, but from different countries. One visitor said she was intrigued about exploring more of Harpers Ferry.

“It’s beautiful and unique in a sense.  The Shenandoah and Potomac River merge here, where most people do kayaking and tubing.  So, that’s another aspect of this place.  So, adventure, sure pleasure and peace.  That’s a good combination,” said Aleena Dahr of Great Falls, Va.

Dhar said visitors are pulled into Harpers Ferry because it still maintains its historical presence.

“They’ve kept it the same way with the food, the clothes, and fabric and the whole lifestyle, and they lived at that time, and you get a small glimpse of the life around 18th century and how it was,” said Dahr.

Harpers Ferry is both the easternmost and lowest point in the state, at just 247 feet above sea level.  Its population was known to have fewer than 300 people as of the 2010 U.S. Census.  Also, the Appalachian Trail passes directly through the town.   

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