Harpers Ferry

Confluence of Potomac-Shenandoah HF001

Harpers Ferry, W. Va., is located where the states of West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland meet, situated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac (uppermost) Rivers, as you can see in the photo above.

Quaker colonist Robert Harper was granted a tract of land here in 1734 and in 1761 he built a ferry across the Potomac, opening the way for settlers to move into the Shenandoah Valley. In 1763 the Virginia General Assembly established the town of “Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper’s Ferry.” In 1796 the federal government purchased a parcel of land from Robert Harper’s descendants and built an arsenal there in 1799. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal reached Harper’s Ferry in 1833, linking the town to Washington, D.C., and a year later the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad came through. On October 16, 1859 abolitionist John Brown led a raid on the arsenal, hoping to use the weapons to initiate a slave uprising in the South. The first shot fired alerted residents even from surrounding towns. Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee was called from leave to lead the expedition against the raiders, with Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart as his aide-de-camp. In the end, Brown was tried for treason and hanged. It is said this raid was a catalyst for the American Civil War.

Not surprisingly, since the lower part of the town is built on a flood plain, Harpers Ferry is prone to devastating inundation. A guide pointed out to me the waterlines of the Johnstown flood and other floods high up on the walls of the buildings.

Thomas Jefferson, who visited Harpers Ferry on October 25, 1783 with his daughter Patsy, called the site “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.” I agree with Thomas Jefferson on a number of things and this is certainly one. Everywhere I looked, I wanted to take a picture. I could not stop. I remember my mother and her poodle BeeGee patiently sitting on a bench while I ran hither and thither photographing everything. I hope you will enjoy these scenes I have posted here.

Picket Fence-Golden Tree HF003 300

Apse HF009

Roofs HF006

Shenandoah River HF007 300

Piers for an old bridge crossing the Shenandoah.

Train X Potomac HF008

This is the B&O Railroad track crossing the Potomac.

Harpers Ferry 4

B&O Tunnel-Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry 1

Harpers Ferry 2

Arsenal Steps

Steps up to the arsenal.

Harpers Ferry 6

Shenandoah St HF004

Harpers Ferry 5

Harpers Ferry

HF002W North Wall

Harpers Ferry 3

–Samantha Mozart

16 Responses to Harpers Ferry

  1. Gorgeous place, and to stand there and think of its past, all the history. Moving, I’m sure. Thomas Jefferson was right. Also, the color and vitality come across well in your photos. Thank you for taking us there with the lovely descriptions and images.

    • sammozart says:

      Thanks, Silvia. Harpers Ferry exudes atmosphere and sense of history. You can almost feel John Brown and Thomas Jefferson and all the others standing there right beside you. Harpers Ferry is one of those rare places that calls you to come be there.

  2. Those are some really beautiful photos.

    Blog: QueendSheena
    2016 A to Z Participant
    Joy Brigade Minion

  3. Great pictures and interesting information. I love history, especially of WV. My family is from there!

    Happy A to Z ing! Yay, the weekend’s here! 🙂
    Ninga Minion @YolandaRenee from
    Defending The Pen
    Murderous Imaginings

    • sammozart says:

      West Virginia is a beautiful state, from what I’ve seen; I would like to see more. Nice to meet you on the A-Zs, Yolanda Renee. Thank you for coming by.

  4. Red says:

    I’ve been there! I didn’t see much though. I had ambitions to be the “camping” aunt – take all my nieces/nephews on a camping trip when they reached a certain age. I enjoyed camping as a kid, so thought that would be fun. I bought a dome tent, a small cooler, coleman lantern, etc. I decided to start camping regularly so that I could build the habit and re-learn skills. First trip: Harpers Ferry (I was living in southern PA). Just a weekend with no plans.
    I got poison ivy. Or oak. I don’t know which, but the first night was misery, so I packed up first thing the next morning and went home to nurse my itchy skin. Never actually got INTO Harpers Ferry! Thanks for showing me what I missed!

    • sammozart says:

      What a shame, Red, that you missed touring Harpers Ferry. I would have headed home right away, too, with that itch. Luckily I’ve avoided poison ivy and oak so far, but did get into a patch of nettles one time. Glad I could show you some pictures of what you missed. Maybe there’ll be a next time, but no camping. 🙂

  5. Gwynn Rogers says:

    I love your historic area. It is so intriguing and beautiful. Thanks for the history and the incredible pictures.

    At least Facebook notified me of your post!

    • sammozart says:

      I have to agree with Thomas Jefferson, Gwynn — not that that’s difficult –, it is an especially beautiful area. It’s one of those places that holds a meaningful, sensual feeling. Yes, thank goodness for FB. One good thing I can say about it is that a lot of people, mostly non-commenting phantoms, though, have seen my posts via my FB notifications.

  6. Pat Garcia says:

    When I think about Harper’s Ferry, I think about John Brown and his raid. The abolitionist belongs to my hero clan. I have a very good friend who is from West Virginia. He and his wife came back to visit Germany after thirty years last year and stayed in my home. I also have had the privilege of driving through West Virginia several times and also stopping and resting there.
    Your pictures bring back those memories.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge.

    Patricia @ EverythingMustChange

    • sammozart says:

      Yes, John Brown was a fanatical abolitionist, Patricia. It’s sad he met his end the way he did. I think I do recall your saying your visiting friends last year were from West Virginia. I’d like to see more of that state; I’ve seen only the Harpers Ferry corner.

      Speaking of abolitionists, one of the main reasons I volunteer at the Smyrna Opera House is that Frederick Douglass spoke there. That’s quite a legacy.

  7. I love good travel writing, and this definitely qualifies. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos, too. I haven’t yet had the chance to visit much of the Eastern U.S., but Harper’s Ferry is on my list of must-see places. Greetings from Tacoma, WA.
    @RhondaGilmour from
    Late Blooming Rose

    • sammozart says:

      I’m glad you think my writing here is good travel writing, Rhonda. That fluffs up my ego considerably. 🙂 Greetings to you in Tacoma. One part of the U.S. I haven’t visited is the Pacific Northwest. That is on my list.

      Nice to meet you on the A-Zs.


  8. susan scott says:

    Stupendous is the right word Samantha .. I too would have run around wanting to capture the moments! The history is so interesting thank you.

    • sammozart says:

      Most importantly is the FEEL of the place, Susan. It has a mystical quality, though very different from that of the Chiricahua Mountains. It’s interesting that of these places I write, Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson were involved — in the planning, in ideas about what these sites should become to benefit the expansion of America.