Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Harper’s Ferry

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania High 72 Low 48

We wanted to see Harper’s Ferry and weren't sure we would be able to when we are in Virginia later this week. We were kind of tired of battlefield history and decided on something different.
Harper’s Ferry National Park is located almost an hour from here, but it is Interstate type highway all the way. We were glad we went. I get into the Park free with my Golden Age Pass. There is a shuttle bus from the Visitor’s Center to the town. When we got there a Park Ranger was almost ready to give a talk about what happened at Harper’s Ferry and some subsequent things that happened.

John Brown, an abolitionist, in 1859 led a raid on the US armory that was located in the town. His raid was successful, but several people, including Heyward Sheperd was shot and killed by the raiders. He was the first victim.

For 36 hours, John Brown and his men held out in the building which is now known as John Brown’s Fort. He was finally taken prisoner by a group of US Marines. He was taken to Charles Town, where he was tried and convicted of treason, murder, and inciting slaves to rebel. He was hanged, and the whole process only took a little over a month.

It is thought that his actions were the birth of the Civil War. His actions led to the election of Abraham Lincoln by splitting the dominant Democratic Party, and giving the new Republican Party the edge they needed to win the presidency. Soon after the election, South Carolina succeeded from the Union.
The Ranger told us that there didn't seem to be much water in the 2 rivers, but that a flood in 1996 had water to over his head in depth. The record flood, in 1936, had water over 13 feet deep in the town, and was as high as the train trestle.

He told us about all the controversy over the different monuments in the town. The old armory firehouse which is now known as John Brown’s Fort is one of the monuments. It has been moved 4 different times. The first from where it was originally to the Chicago World’s Fair. After someone didn't know if it would ever return, he wanted to put up a monument on the original spot, which had been covered by the railroad. This took several years, but was finally approved.

Then when the building was finally returned to its present location, there was another controversy over what the plaque on it should say.

Then the Daughters of the Confederacy wanted a monument to Heyward Sheperd erected. After it was made, it was stored for 14 years, before being placed where it is today, but had a brick colored box built around it to hide it. Finally after 6 more years, the National Park Service quietly took the box off. The Ranger told us it was covered and basically hidden for so long was because of all the racial tension that was happening at the time.
After the Heyward Sheperd monument, the NAACP wanted a monument to a Colored Marine placed nearby. There was so much controversy over what it would say and it’s placement, that whoever was  funding it got tired of all the red tape and got permission to place it on private property about a half block uphill from the National Park. We thought the monument to the Marine was a nice monument.

Some more pictures from town and the two rivers along with part of the Appalachian Trail.

We would have liked to see inside this church, but it was closed.

This bridge is part of the Appalachian Trail.
Cindy saw a couple of signs about a new treadle Singer sewing machine, and how using the machine, a gentleman’s shirt could be sewn in an hour and 16 minutes, instead of the old fashioned way of hand sewing which took 14 hours and 26 minutes.

It was a nice visit and we are glad we were able to see the site.

Thanks for visiting.


  1. We stayed at the KOA right outside the gate, but you probably were better off to drive to it. The KOA had very narrow sites and party people everywhere.

  2. It's been so many years since I've been to Harper's Ferry. I really don't remember much about it so it was fun to read your post. You are getting tired of battlefields and we're just getting started. Headed to Fredericksburg/Spotslvania Battlefields tomorrow.

  3. Nice account of your visit. I have been there but forgot a lot of what I saw. Excellent review and very interesting. I like the photos too!