A History Lover’s Guide to Exploring the Eastern Panhandle

Just about an hour’s drive from the Washington, D.C. metro area, West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle welcomes visitors with a relaxed, historic atmosphere combined with small-town charm. You’ll discover why historic towns like Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown and Berkeley Springs played integral roles during the Civil War.

Escape the big city rush and enjoy learning what makes the Eastern Panhandle a hotspot for history lovers.

John Brown’s Fort

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Learn the incredible story of John Brown and his raid on Harpers Ferry at John Brown’s Fort. Visit the spot where Brown made his stand and helped spark the beginning of the Civil War. Take in the Shenandoah River vista from the steps of the historic St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church atop Harpers Ferry.

The Jefferson County Museum

Charles Town, West Virginia

The Jefferson County Museum fosters the appreciation and significance of the county’s history. Explore many John Brown and Civil War items, including the wagon that carried Brown to his execution, the desk he used in his jail cell, a copy of his provisional constitution and the gurney he laid on during the trial.

Little House

Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Shepherdstown’s “Little House” was built during the summers of 1928 and 1929 when a class project at the local college evolved into the creation of a one-acre miniature farm modeled after the farms in the Shenandoah Valley. This limestone house features Dutch Colonial Revival style architecture, standing 10 feet tall with a base that measures 10 by nine feet. It is fully furnished and features a functional fireplace and working lights.

O’Hurley’s General Store

Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Turn back the clock and take a shopping stroll through O’Hurley’s General Store. Find timeless goods like specialty glassware, dry goods, coffee, clothing, books and just about anything that you could use around the house. A fully-operable blacksmith shop is also offered at the store.

George Washington’s Bathtub

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

At 16 years old, George Washington first visited Berkeley Springs as a land surveyor and continued to visit the location with his family. This eventually led Washington to purchase the property, and one of the most famous sites here is his bathtub. Berkeley Springs State Park encompasses what Washington would have seen on a daily basis during his time in the Eastern Panhandle during the 18th century, and you can dip your feet into the tub from which he presumably used to bathe.

George Washington Heritage Trail

Martinsburg, West Virginia

Created to follow the footsteps of George Washington, the George Washington Heritage Trail is a history lover’s hike. The trail passes through three counties of West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. This includes places such as Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, Berkeley Springs, the famous Paw Paw Tunnel and the house of Belle Boyd. Come see why Washington fell love with this beautiful slice of Almost Heaven.

Explore What Made #AlmostHeaven

There are plenty of exciting adventures surrounding the Eastern Panhandle. Request our free West Virginia Vacation Guide to find out how you can extend your historic getaway!

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This post was last updated on April 18, 2024