Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Our first nights in West Virginia were spent in Harpers Ferry. We have been selecting states to visit, where we have never been. It can be a challenge finding open campgrounds this far north, this time of year. We chose to visit the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park because of it’s location and it’s significance to the Civil War, and freedom for the slaves.
It is also the location of John Brown’s Raid on the National Armory in 1859, undertaken with the intent to fight a war to end slavery in the United States. The raid was a failure, but some say it was the battle that began the war that ended slavery.
In addition, the town is the home of Storer College, the first school of higher education for newly freed Black citizens. John Browns Fort, and the College stand in testament of their fight for freedom.
The town itself is situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. It’s location along these rivers were ideally suited to build an industrial town with ready access to hydro power. The C&O Canal and later the Railroads provided ready transportation.
The primary industry here was the National Armory, where arms for the army were made and stockpiled. The site was critical to both sides in the civil war. It was the site of several battles in the war, most notably the Battle of Harpers Ferry in September of 1862, when General Stonewall Jackson took the town, resulting in the surrender of almost 13,000 union troops.
While the town survived it all, it finally fell to the frequent and violent floods. Taking not only the manufacturing plants, but also the canal. The lower town was abandoned until it was taken over by the National Parks Service.
Walking here now you can visit remaining and reconstructed houses that display what life may have been like in the late 1800’s. You can also visit John Brown’s Fort, where he made his final stand. The building has been moved four times, in order to preserve it for history.
And finally, the town serves as the mid-point of the 2,200 mile long Appalachian Trail.
|Because of the Armory the town was a military town and under the control of the Provost Marshal|
|Merchants not only supplied the Army personnel but the many craftsmen working at the Armory and their families|
|This foot bridge across the Potomac River leads to the Appalachian Trail, and the remnants of the C&O Canal.|
|The Farm was also home, at one time to John Brown’s Fort. It once sat on this foundation.|
|Harper Cemetery looking East|
|The Lockwood House home to hospitals and command headquarters during the Civil War. It then became the nucleus of Storer College.|