"HARPERS FERRY GUNS, RACE AND NATURE" Top 5 Page for this destination Harpers Ferry by mtncorg

Harpers Ferry Travel Guide: 91 reviews and 237 photos

Old John Brown’s body lies a moulderin’ in his New York grave as a result of his actions here at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, on October 1859. He hoped to capture the Federal armory here and turn over weapons to would-be insurrecting slaves thus fulfilling Southern aristocratic nightmares of a potential gotterdamerung of their society. John didn’t succeed in capturing the 100,000 guns stored here. He did succeed in getting himself hung and by doing so became a martyr to many in the North, as well as the Devil personified in the South. As feelings hardened, the storm clouds of the Civil War drew ever closer.

Harpers Ferry is a pretty little town huddled at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. There was a ferry here as early as 1747 - run by Mr. Harper, of course - but the town really got started when George Washington selected the site for a new federal armory and arsenal. Washington was excited by the ‘inexhaustible supply of water’ to provide power for the gun factories. Others, however, noted that the site was highly susceptible to flooding and over time they would be proven correct. The Armory grew over time and employed over 400 men at its peak. By the time of the Civil War, the town could boast of almost 3000. The War crippled the town as it changed hands eight times - the most dramatic being when on September 15, 1862, the 12,500 man Federal garrison surrendered to Stonewall Jackson during the Antietam Campaign. After the War, the town remained a transportation crossing point but the factories faded away as floods took their toll over the years. As most local industry came to an end, Congress established the Harpers Ferry National Monument in 1944, eventually becoming a National Historic Park. Today, much of the town exists as a monument to earlier times and to events that had made the town a very important part of American history and myth.

Here, at Harpers Ferry, the Potomac River cuts through the Blue Ridge mountains with the added bulk of the Shenandoah River added to it. High canyon walls always served to limit the growth of the town and today those heights are forested protected areas that add to the natural beauty of the Harpers Ferry site. Trails allow one the chance to gain grand outlooks over the town and rivers.

There are lots of interesting museums and monuments scattered about in Harpers Ferry. I have picked out a few. A note to visiting the town - there is really no parking in the Lower Town and you will need to park your car by the Visitor Center and take a shuttle bus down. For purposes of planning a visit to Harpers Ferry, a great first Internet stop is Harpers Ferry National Historic Park’s website.

  • Intro Updated Jan 20, 2010
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Reviews (10)

Comments (3)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Nov 3, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    hi, I had a good wander around Harpers Ferry a few years ago so Im coming back to read your tips tomrorrow...!

  • Greggor58's Profile Photo
    Nov 3, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    I enjoyed the brief time that I spent here a few years back..its nice to take another look around.Its really pretty countryside I thought!Thanks for stopping by some of my pages Mark.Ha...so you know the Salmon Kings do you??

  • Geoff_Wright's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2007 at 1:19 PM

    Hi, Great tips, some I didn't know of. Guess I could have been one of the last to climb Jefferson Rock, LOL. Regards from England.


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