June 10, 2017
After coming down off the Skyline Drive, RVing friend Tina and I stopped in Charlestown, WV for a couple of days to tour Harpers Ferry, National Historic Park.
Harpers Ferry is the famous site of abolitionist John Brown's raid in October 1859, as well as Civil War battles. This is the view from Bolivar Heights from which Union troops were forced to surrender after being isolated here by besieging Confederate forces in 1862.
We took a shuttle from the visitor center to the historic downtown area.The town of Harpers Ferry was built on one of the steep hillsides that surround the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomic Rivers, making this a very strategic location for commerce as well as defense.
Historic Shenandoah Street brings you back to the 1880s.
Once a flourishing factory town, all that remains of Factory Row is just a series of foundations.
Foundation of the Market House that was destroyed by severe floods in 1936.
Map showing the location of the Armory Paymaster at the point of land between the two rivers.The Shenandoah flows from the right into the Potomac River here.
The old firehouse was commandeered by John Brown and used as a fort during the raid on the armory.Location of the armory.
Back in its early industrial days, Harpers Ferry figured in the supply of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Tina and I toured the hillside streets on foot.
There were a lot of stairs involved, and it was hot...so we fortified ourselves with ice cream.
The old stone steps are worn from decades of footsteps.
Tina coming up the steps.
The steps leading to the Catholic Church are lined with Hollyhocks.
Bees were busy pollinating.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, circa 1833, survived destruction during the Civil War by flying the British Union Jack to symbolize neutrality.
The parish priest was called to administer last rites to a victim of John Brown's raid.
In 1775, town founder, Robert Harper, chose this hillside for his home. The mansion was completed in 1782. It is the oldest surviving structure in Harpers Ferry. Unfortunately Harper died that same year, and never lived here. The house was inherited by a niece and remained in the family for about 140 years.From this vantage point, early residents watched Harpers Ferry grow from a tiny village into a thriving industrial community.
Pattern of stones in the retaining wall. Root cellars were also built into the wall.
Climbing above the Catholic Church we come to the weathered ruins of St. Johns Episcopal Church, built in 1852. During the Civil War it served as a hospital and barracks.
High above the river is a site known as Jefferson's Rock. It is where Thomas Jefferson stood in 1783 and described the view during a visit to Harpers Ferry.
There's always someone...The view from Jefferson's Rock. In 1860, the armory superintendent ordered supports placed under the rock because it was "endangering the lives and properties of villagers below."
During our stay, we were free-camping at the Charles Town Racetrack and Casino, so we got to watch some practice.
And we also toured the town established by George Washington's brother, Charles.The town also figured prominently in the events surrounding John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry.
The trial took place in the county courthouse in Charles Town.Jefferson County Courthouse
The town was also where John Brown was executed in 1859.
The Gibson-Todd House was built in 1892 on land adjacent to site of John Brown's gallows.The hanging site.
And then we just enjoyed meandering through back alleys and streets...A vineyard...
A garden gate...