Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Step back in time with a visit to this quaint, historic community, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park lies in the Eastern Panhandle of the state. Marked by history, visitors will find many museums, battlefields and historic sites. John Brown’s famous raid took place in Harpers Ferry, and today you can visit the wax museum that depicts scenes of the raid.

The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park offers 22 miles of hiking trails, including part of the Appalachian Trail. Harpers Ferry marks the halfway point between Georgia and Maine. Travelers also often walk the towpath of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and up to Maryland Heights to get a sweeping, picturesque view of the town below.

The town of Harpers Ferry itself is a National Historic District so most of the buildings reflect the town’s history as a transportation hub and industrial center. Grab a bite to eat at one of the area’s unique eateries or shop at an array of storefronts.

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Did you know?

  1. Harpers Ferry is best known for John Brown’s raid (attack on slavery) in 1859, in which he attempted to use the town and the weapons in its Federal Armory (munitions plant) as the base for a slave revolt, to expand south into the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
  2. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, John Brown, “Stonewall” Jackson, and Frederick Douglass are just a few of the prominent individuals who left their mark on this place.
  3. Harpers Ferry witnessed the first successful application of interchangeable manufacture, the arrival of the first successful American railroad, John Brown’s attack on slavery, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States.
  4. Native Americans have inhabited the region for as long as 8,000 years, but in the 1700s when the European settlers arrived their population was decimated due to conflict and disease. 
  5. Harpers Ferry is a town that is named after Robert Harper, a man who built a ferry to cross Potomac River in the 1700s. In 1944 the park’s area was originally designated as a national monument. 
  6.  Approximately half a million people visit the park each year.
  7. Robert Harper’s original home is still standing. It is located in the park’s lower region and is the oldest building in the park today.
  8. Some of the buildings in the park include White Hall Tavern, the Dry Goods Store, Stripe’s Boarding House, Harper House, the Blacksmith Shop, the Bookshop, and Frankel’s Clothing Store.
  9. The Appalachian Trail passes through Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
  10. In 1785, President George Washington selected Harpers Ferry as the site for the United States Armory and Arsenal.

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