- Harpers Ferry WV. JEB Stuart said he would happily attack it many times, but not wish to defend it even once.
Having spent the night in Charles Town WV with the objective of a short ride to Harpers Ferry the next day, I had an easy morning updating the blog and getting some washing dry. Air conditioning is a wonderful invention; and is even more to be appreciated on a muggy day such as yesterday was.
At the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (Annual Pass is now more than paid for, Antietam was also 'free') the rangers at the entrance were obviously having a slow day. They were very keen to chat about my trip and could not have been more welcoming and helpful. I think I must be south of Mason Dixie.
When I went into the Visitor Center I was surprised at the lack of emphasis on the War. In response to my questions, I was passed over to a young gentleman who perhaps had been waiting all morning for someone like me. Out came the map and I was treated to a really enthusiastic and knowledgeable description of the events of September 1852. Names of commanders, anecdotes, military appreciation, the whole box and dice. I was riveted, as were a few others who were standing around. Really Excellent.
A la Bryce Canyon, there was a shuttle bus, but with just the one stop in the lower old town. Harpers Ferry is fully open to the public and their vehicles, but in peak season you will not get parking. Take the shuttle bus.
The town is, or was, strategically important, and during the war it changed hands several times. Located on the banks of the Potomac River, it has a wonderfully scenic location, nestled below the Maryland Heights. In its hey day, it was also an important industrial town, deriving power from the river to derive machinery, but in 1935 one more devastating flood saw the end of that era. It is today a commuter community (and popular tourist destination) for Washington DC and surrounding towns. I spent half an hour at the station waiting for Tom vdB and was entertained by two trains that passed through, as well as taking some additional photos of the very pretty town.
Talking of the town, I dropped into a shop -the name escapes me - looking for my Harpers Ferry sticker, and spoke to the owner Cindy and her assistant Crystal. Friendly, helpful and charming; as were all the folk I met at Harpers Ferry. I also really appreciated the air conditioning. It was really humid yesterday!
Harpers Ferry is also very important in the history of Abolitionism. John Brown launched his raid here, for which he was arrested and arraigned for treason, found guilty and hanged in Charles Town. That raid almost certainly contributed to the war that followed. As I travel through the area, it seems to me that the events of the 1860's were really not that long ago.
Harpers Ferry is a very pretty town with a most interesting history that pre- and post dates the war. It is well worth a visit.