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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpers_Ferry,_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.
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.
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.