HARPERS FERRY

After Antietam we made our way to Harpers Ferry. (Originally it was Harper’s Ferry, but since then has become Harpers Ferry, although some people still write it Harper’s Ferry – yep, that grammatical fact is part of it’s history.)

WHERE: Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet and where John Brown staged his raid.

WHAT: Ok – some facts about Harpers Ferry:

*Thomas Jefferson visited there and stood on top of the Jefferson Rock to see how the Potomac flowed through the Blue Ridge. However, at that time, it was not called Jefferson’s Rock. It was just a rock, but when he stood on it, it started being called Jefferson’s Rock. He said the view was “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.” However, we’ll never know, because you can no longer stand on it. The view, however, is little changed from 1854.

*Washington also went to Harpers Ferry and thought it would be a good spot for an armory and arsenal. Some of Washington’s  family also moved there – like his great-great nephew who was held hostage during John Brown’s raid.

* The big event happened when John Brown (along with 21 other men) staged a raid on the arsenal and several other buildings to instigate a slave uprising.  He didn’t accomplished what he came to do (actually he ended up being hung for treason), but he did get the attention of the people.

*During the Civil War, the town changed hands anywhere from 8-14 times (depending on which historian you read), both sides wanted it because of it’s location on the railroad and the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley.

AND: Harpers Ferry is the “psychological” midpoint of the Appalachian Trail although it really isn’t the middle. But because of that there is overnight parking at the visitor’s center – which is where we parked – not to hike, but to go into D.C. It was a convenient location to leave the car.

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