“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
However You Want To Spell It – It’s Been Around For A While
This time, folks, we’re talking about a place that really put the “small” in “small town.” The name of that place is Harpers Ferry, and it’s located in yet another pretty-looking state that really flaunts its colors during fall – West Virginia. Best known for its role in the American Civil War, or more precisely, John Brown’s raid on the Armory in 1859, Harpers Ferry is actually the easternmost town in West Virginia. Interestingly, the place was formerly dubbed Harper’s Ferry, with an apostrophe, so don’t be surprised if you encounter that form of its name in some references.
Bordered by the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Harpers Ferry is basically your quaint-looking 19th century village. It’s no surprise that visitors from all over the world are today drawn by the majestic beauty of the cliffs and two rivers surrounding this gorgeous 125-acre piece of land. The town’s origins date back to the mid-1700s, when a patent for the aforementioned section of land was given to Robert Harper, who some time later founded a ferry service across the Potomac River. The Virginia Assembly originally named the place Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper’s Ferry, but that was before West Virginia became its own territory.
As Stubborn As It Is Beautiful
The Harpers Ferry National Historic Park encompasses the lower part of the town, whereas the Harpers Ferry Historic District includes most of the remainder, which is the more highly populated area. If one were to venture just beyond the park, they would find themselves in the midst of a commercial area, dotted with numerous shopping and food establishments. However, as appealing as that is, it should be said that the Harpers Ferry the visitor sees today is almost nothing in comparison to the thriving, busy industrial center it once was.
The history of Harpers Ferry is not without its witnesses, but one of the longest lasting ones, as always, is Mother Nature. The town, even though it always seemed to make a comeback, was continuously under threats of severe flooding. In fact, there are markers depicting the many floods that have plagued this charming small town on the west side of A Place In Time Museum. Furthermore, the sheer magnitude of this once thriving industrial center that is now a part of history can be easily understood by using just a portion of one’s imagination, combined with the sight of past building structures whose foundations still remain today. Throughout Harpers Ferry, numerous ruins tell the tale of a time gone by, and offer visitors the opportunity to explore them.
Harpers Ferry, WV – A Modern Window Into The Past
There are plenty of water sports available in the area, thanks to the breathtaking views of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, as well as Harpers Ferry itself. Fishing, kayaking, rafting and tubing are traditional options, but for those who are not fond of the water, and are perhaps history lovers, there is always the Civil War. It is more than well preserved in and around Harpers Ferry, and a number of Civil War Trail signs along several former battlefields in the area testify to that. Free maps of these can be found at most visitors centers. Other popular recreational activities include the inevitable zipline, hiking, rock climbing and the Aerial Forest Adventure Park, which offers more than 100 challenge elements of varying difficulty to choose from.
Harpers Ferry beckons visitors from near and far as the eastern gateway to West Virginia. If you’re looking to journey back into history and recharge your batteries for the challenges of the present at the same time, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is the perfect small town to do just that.