“The tiny town of Harper’s Ferry is absolutely adorable – you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time! If you enjoy history and Civil War History, you’ll definitely be in your element.” (Allie Marie)
In colonial American times, Americans dreamed of moving west beyond the Appalachian Mountains in search of wealth and new lands to settle. Located at the confluence of two major rivers and three U.S. States(Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland) the historic town district of Harper’s Ferry’s once grew prosperously for those reasons. For this hamlet once functioned as a major transportation/manufacturing hub for river canal and railroad passage as well as an iron production stronghold fueled by efficient water power in the region. Know as well that in the early years of the town, its major firearm arsenal produced thousands of muskets, rifles, and pistols for American military endeavors. Thus Harper’s Ferry’s location for strategic reasons grew prominently as well through the years. In fact, fierce military invasions of the lower town from the Bolivar Heights surrounding the town would take place in the coming years as Union and Confederate army control of Harper’s Ferry changed hands eight times during the Civil War.
Meanwhile, the slavery issue in America took an ominous turn as runaway slaves from the Southern states attempted to find safe haven in Harper’s Ferry. Amid the “buzz” of anti slavery fever thus resonating amid the local citizenry, Northern abolitionist fanatic, John Brown, and his small army of eighteen accomplices entered town .On October 16, 1859 he put a plan to action to to seize the Harpers Ferry arsenal for weapons and commit cold blooded murder in order to free the slaves. For many Civil War experts, the the unresolved race question fueled by Brown’s failed raid in Harper’s Ferry that day provided convincing evidence that this race divided country would inevitably face a tragic future ahead of Civil War.
So as a serious history buff, I enjoyed stepping back in time to pre- Civil War American times to walk around Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park of old on our visit last Saturday. With parking in town virtually impossible to find, we opted to take the free shuffle bus to town for conducting this self guided tour. Walking along side an old railroad bridge on Shenandoah Street, we then entered various town shops functioning as tourist exhibit halls from the town’s early days lining the street on both sides.
Continuing on to the area called “The Point”, we gazed at a fantastic backdrop of the Potomac/Shenandoah River junction cradled by the steep mountains beyond. Then crossing over the Potomac by way of an old rail bridge to the mountain beyond, we noticed a sign reference to the famed Appalachian Trail crossing at this location. To conclude our day’s activities we returned back to old town for a deli lunch and a quick look at the John Brown Fort and slavery exhibit hall nearby. Stay tuned for my my next blog as I look forward to revealing more interesting facts about American History from our next road trip destination: Washington D.C.