Cities Near Harpers Ferry, WV
Local city information for Harpers Ferry, WV
is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia. In many books the town is called '''"Harper's Ferry"''' with an apostrophe 's.
It is situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers where the U.S. states of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet. The town is located on a low lying flood plain created by the two rivers, it is thus surrounded by higher ground on all sides. Historically, Harpers Ferry is best known for John Brown's raid on the Armory in 1859 and its role in the American Civil War. As of the 2000 census, the town had a population of 307.
The lower part of Harpers Ferry is located within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Most of the remainder, which includes the higher, more populated area, is included in the separate Harpers Ferry Historic District. Two other National Register of Historic Places properties adjoin the town: the B & O Railroad Potomac River Crossing and St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) headquarters is located in Harpers Ferry and the town is one of only a few that the Appalachian Trail passes directly through.
In 1751, Robert Harper was given a patent on 125 acres (0.5 km²) at the present location of the town. In 1761, Harper established a ferry across the Potomac, making the town a starting point for settlers moving into the Shenandoah Valley and further west. In 1763, the Virginia General Assembly established the town of "Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper's Ferry."
On October 25, 1783, Thomas Jefferson visited Harpers Ferry. He viewed "the passage of the Potomac though the Blue Ridge" from a rock which is now named for him. Jefferson was actually on his way to Philadelphia and passed through Harpers Ferry with his daughter Patsy. Jefferson called the site "perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.”
George Washington, as president of the Patowmack Company (which was formed to complete river improvements on the Potomac and its tributaries), traveled to Harpers Ferry during the summer of 1785 to determine the need for bypass canals. In 1794, Washington'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 in 1859.
In 1796, the federal government purchased a parcel of land from the heirs of Robert Harper and, in 1799, construction began on the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. This was one of only two such facilities in the US, the other being Springfield, Massachusetts, and between them they produced most of the small arms for the US Army. The town was transformed into an industrial center: Between 1801 and its destruction in 1861 to prevent its capture during the Civil War, the Armory produced more than 600,000 muskets, rifles, and pistols. Inventor Captain John H. Hall pioneered the use of interchangeable parts in firearms manufactured at his Rifle Works at the armory between 1820 and 1840; his M1819 Hall rifle was the first breech loading weapon adopted by the US Army.
This industrialization continued in 1833 when the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal reached Harpers Ferry linking it with Washington, D.C. A year later, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad began train service through the town.
Harpers Ferry is located at (39.325398, -77.743599).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.6 km² (0.6 mi²). 1.5 km² (0.6 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (9.68%) is water.
Some properties are currently threatened by development.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia
, published in 1785, that
From most of Harpers Ferry, a fading advertisement for tooth powder painted on the cliff face of Maryland Heights decades ago is visible.
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