Harpers Ferry is located in the easternmost part of West Virginia, where its borders meet with Maryland and Virginia at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. The town was named after Robert Harper, who had established a ferry across the Potomac River and starting point for settlers moving west.
Civil War-era slavery abbolutionist John Brown led a raid on the United States Armory and Arsenal in Harpers in 1859, is said to have helped trigger the Civil War. Harpers Ferry changed hand eight times during the war.
In 1944, a portion of the town became part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, with most of the remainder now included in the Harpers Ferry Historic District.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Harpers Ferry had been a fashionable resort for vacationers traveling by train from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. It remains a popular destination for visitors interested in history, but also for outdoor recreation, including white water rafting, fishing, mountain biking, canoeing, zip line trails and rock climbing. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters is located in Harpers Ferry and the Appalachian Trail runs directly through the town.
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Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. The town began as an important crossroads and was also a strategic transportation hub during the Civil War. Photo: Hank Zimmerman