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It is situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, where the U. It is the easternmost town in West Virginia and during the Civil War was the northernmost point of Confederate-controlled territory. The town's original, lower section is on a flood plain created by the two rivers and surrounded by higher ground and is within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Most of the remainder, which includes the more highly populated area, is included in the separate Harpers Ferry Historic District. Peter's Roman Catholic Church. The town was formerly spelled Harper's Ferry with an apostrophe-in the 18th century, it was the site of a ferry service owned and operated by Robert Harper-and that form continues to appear in some references.

Peter's Roman Catholic Church. The town was formerly spelled Harper's Ferry with an apostrophe-in the 18th century, it was the site of a ferry service owned and operated by Robert Harper-and that form continues to appear in some references.

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Because of its geography, Harpers Ferry was a vitally important junction point. In colonial times and through the early U. Harpers Ferry has a commanding central location on the sapeake and Ohio Canalrunning alongside the Potomac and avoiding its rapids, linking Washington with points west.

Thus, it was a natural conduit for Union incursions into the South. One of Stonewall Jackson 's first actions for the Confederacy was the Great Train Raid ofin which he disabled the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for almost a year by destroying infrastructure and stealing rolling stock.

It also commanded the railroad and canal routes connecting Washington with points west and the Ohio Valley. Vital telegraph lines connecting Washington with points west also went through Harpers Ferry. Historically, Harpers Ferry is best known for John Brown 's raid inin which he attempted to use the town and the weapons in its Federal Armory munitions plant as the base for a slave revolt, planned to expand south into Virginia.

The Appalachian Trail passes directly through town, which some consider the psychological midpoint of the trail, [8] [9] although the exact physical midpoint is farther north, in Pennsylvania. InPeter Stephens, a squatter, had settled on land near "The Point" the area where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meetand established a ferry from Virginia now West Virginia to Maryland, across the Potomac. Fourteen years laterwhile traveling from Maryland to Virginia, Robert Harper passed through the area which was named "The Hole" the gap in the mountains along the Potomac River.

Harper recognized the potential for industry, given the power the two rivers could generate, and the traffic he could ferry across the Potomac River. Harper paid Stephens 30 guineas for what was essentially Stephens' squatting rights, since the land actually belonged to Lord Fairfax. In AprilHarper purchased acres of land from Lord Fairfax.

Inthe Virginia General Assembly granted Harper the right to establish and maintain a ferry across the Potomac River even though a ferry had been functioning successfully in the area before and after Harper first settled there.

Harpers Ferry. He viewed "the passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge " from a rock that is now named for him.

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This stop took place as Jefferson was traveling to Philadelphia and passed through Harpers Ferry with his daughter Patsy. Jefferson called the site "perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature," [13] : 22 and stated that, "This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.

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George Washingtonas president of the Patowmack Company which was formed to complete river improvements on the Potomac and its tributariestraveled to Harpers Ferry during the summer of to determine the need for bypass canals. InWashington's familiarity with the area led him to propose the site for a new United States armory and arsenal. Some of Washington's family moved to the area; his great-great-nephew, Colonel Lewis Washington, was held hostage during John Brown 's raid inand George's brother Charles Washington founded the nearby Jefferson County town of Charles Town.

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Inthe federal government purchased a acre 0. Together they produced most of the small arms for the U. Inventor Captain John H.

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Hall pioneered the use of interchangeable parts in firearms manufactured at his rifle works at the armory between and ; his M Hall rifle was the first breech-loading weapon adopted by the U.

On October 16,the abolitionist John Brown led a group of 22 men in a raid on the arsenal. Five of the men were black: three free black men, one freed slave, and one fugitive slave.

Brown attacked and captured several buildings, hoping to secure the weapons depot and arm the slaves, starting a revolt across the South.

Brown also brought 1, steel pikes, which were forged in Connecticut by a blacksmith and abolitionist sympathizer, Charles Blair; however, the pikes, a weapon that does not require training, were never used as Brown failed to rally the slaves to revolt. The noise from that shot alerted Dr. John Starry shortly after am. He walked from his nearby home to investigate the shooting and was confronted by Brown's men. Starry stated that he was a doctor but could do nothing more for Shepherd, and Brown's men allowed him to leave.

Instead of going home, Starry went to the livery and rode to neighboring towns and villages, alerting residents to the raid. When Starry read nearby Charles Townthe church bells were rung to arouse the citizens from their sleep. John Brown's men were quickly pinned down by local citizens and militia, and forced to take refuge in the fire engine house later called John Brown's Fort at the entrance to the armory. In need of an officer to lead the expedition, U. Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert E.

Lee was found on leave nearby and was assigned as commander along with Lt. Stuart as his aide-de-camp. Lee led the unit in civilian clothes, as none of his uniforms were available when he accepted the command. The whole contingent arrived by train on October 18, and after negotiation failed they stormed the fire house and captured most of the raiders, killing a few and suffering a single casualty themselves.

Brown was quickly tried for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, murder, and fomenting a slave insurrection; convicted of all charges, he was hanged December 2,in nearby Charles Town. See Virginia v. John Brown.

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Starry's testimony was integral to his conviction. Following the prosecution by Andrew Hunter"John Brown captured the attention of the nation like no other abolitionist or slave owner before or since.

Lee returned to finish his leave. The Civil War was disastrous for Harpers Ferry, which changed hands eight times between and Harper's Ferry presents quite a gloomy picture. The best buildings have been shelled to the ground, and nothing now remains but their foundations to mark the spot where they once stood.

The old Arsenal has been burnt to the ground; that part of the building where old John Brown made such a fatal stand, still stands as a monunent to his memory. Before the destruction of the town, it contained near inhabitants, but at the present time there are not more than or families there.

The town's garrison of 14, Federal troops attracted 1, contrabands escaped slaves by the summer of Harpers Ferry played a key role in the Confederate invasion of Maryland in September Robert E. Lee did not want to continue on to Maryland without capturing the town.

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It was on his supply line and could control one of his possible routes of retreat if the invasion did not go well. Dividing his army of approximately 40, into four sections, Lee used the cover of the mountains to send three columns under Stonewall Jackson to surround and capture the town. After a Confederate artillery bombardment on September 14 and 15, the Federal garrison surrendered. With 12, Federal troops captured by Jackson, the surrender at Harpers Ferry was the largest surrender of U.

Because of the delay in capturing Harpers Ferry and the movement of Federal forces to the west, Lee was forced to regroup at the town of Sharpsburg. Two days later he commanded troops in the Battle of Antietamwhich had the highest number of deaths among troops of any single day in United States military history. By Julythe Union again had control of Harpers Ferry.

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On 4 Julythe Union commanding Gen. Franz Sigel withdrew his troops to Maryland Heights. From there he resisted Jubal Anderson Early 's attempt to enter the town and drive the Federal garrison from Maryland Heights.

Top 12. Best Tourist Attractions in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Because the Arsenal, Harpers Ferry's largest employer, was never rebuilt, the population never recovered to pre-Civil War levels. On August 15,author and scholar W.

Du Bois led the first meeting on American soil of the newly-founded Niagara Movement.

The conference was held at the campus of Storer Collegea historically black college that operated until The three-day gathering, which was held to work for civil rights for African Americanswas later described by DuBois as "one of the greatest meetings that American Negroes ever held.

At the time, John Brown's historic "fort" -the arsenal's firehouse, which had numerous Black visitors-had been moved to the Storer campus; it has subsequently been moved back to as close as possible to its original location. The population of Harpers Ferry continued to decline in the 20th century. In Congress authorized the establishment of Harpers Ferry National Historical Parkto take in most of the town and have it administered by the National Park Service.

The majority of the existing homes in Harpers Ferry are historic. Some are registered in the National Register of Historic Places. On July 23,a fire broke out in downtown Harpers Ferry, destroying eight or nine businesses and two apartments in two historic buildings. The buildings are being rebuilt. In the early morning of December 21,multiple cars of a train owned by CSX derailed from the railroad bridge crossing the Potomac River.

The derailment damaged a portion of the Goodloe E. The accident did not result in any injuries or fatalities but effectively inhibited all pedestrian access across the Potomac River. The only significant highway providing access to Harpers Ferry is U.

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Route Although signed north-south, the road runs generally eastward from Harpers Ferry across the northern tip of Loudoun CountyVirginia after crossing the Shenandoah Riverthen quickly crosses the Potomac River into Marylan eventually reaching its terminus at Frederick.

To the west, U. Route passes through Charles Town before turning southwest and traversing the eastern edge of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

Harpers Ferry and neighboring Bolivar host an unsigned alternate route of U. Amtrak provides service to Harpers Ferry two times a day once in each direction on the Capitol Limited. The city's passenger rail station is at the West Virginia end of the historic railroad bridge across the Potomac River. According to the United States Census Bureauthe town has a total area of 0.

From most of Harpers Ferry, a fading advertisement for Mennen's Borated Talcum Toilet Powder painted on the cliff face of Maryland Heights decades ago is still visible. The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters, with yearly snowfall averaging As of the census [2] ofthere were people, households, and 78 families residing in the town. The population density was Remember me Password recovery.

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