Civil War

Hiking into Harpers Ferry

HarpersFerry1oct14-00948The Appalachian Trail is a trail that one can hike from Katahdin Mountain in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia.

Harpers Ferry is a midway junction along the trail which goes through this historic town which is now a national park. With cobblestone streets, Harpers Ferry is situated where the Shenandoah River and the Potomac River join, and the three states of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia meet. It is also home to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters and visitor center.


The origins of Harpers Ferry was from 1734 when Quaker colonist Robert Harper obtained 125 acres of land where Harpers Ferry is located. Establishing a ferry across the Potomac in 1761, Harpers Ferry grew from settlers moving westward. (source:,_West_Virginia)

It wasn’t long before the federal government set roots here and in 1796 purchased land and built the United States Armory and Arsenal. One of two armorys in the U.S., Harpers Ferry produced small arms including 600,000 muskets, rifles and pistols. Operational until 1861 when the armory was destroyed to avoid capture during the Civil War.



But the town wasn’t done with being a crucial crossroads for transport and commerce. The B&O Railroad set tracks to the town by 1833, linking it to Washington D.C. and later to points westward.

I’ve been through Harpers Ferry several times with the hiking group, but mainly in the dead of winter. The town was always shut up, and I thought it to be a town of summertime commerce. Little did I know that Harpers Ferry is a preserved historical village where the original buildings are now part of the national park. Many of the buildings include museum exhibits that display business as it was 200 years ago.

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The leaves were beginning to change color and walking on the cobblestone streets on this quiet day was a peaceful and beautiful experience.


I’d imagine that Harpers Ferry is one of the best highlights seen along the Appalachian Trail and well worth a visit.

17 replies »

  1. First, wonderful images!

    Then, thank you for letting us know that Harper’s Ferry is now a National Park, I had no idea that it was. That little town was in the middle of so many events before and during the Civil War, starting with John Brown’s attempt to capture the armory in 1859, and Stonewall Jackson capturing the town during the war. I’ll have to make it there one of these days.

    • I didn’t even get into that story. There are so many things that have happened in Harpers Ferry. It truly is a fascinating place and there is so much to do in the area. You would love the hiking so I hope you make it one day.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and pictures. Even before that, Harper’s Ferry was on my bucket list, but now even more so.
    Have a great weekend,

  3. What a quaint little town! I just heard of this place a couple of weeks ago when one of my daughter’s new PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) hiking friends told me she had hiked half the AT and ended at Harper’s Ferry. Now I know what it looks like! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • What a small world Denise! See, it was meant for me to be there just so I could share this post with you. I wish I could hike the full AT, but then stepping out of life like that isn’t quite my cup of tea. Thanks so much.

    • Thanks Diane ! I really thought through what I wanted to do with the images. Something a little different than what everyone else does. I appreciate your feedback and thrilled that you enjoyed this one.

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