Harpers Ferry Things to Do
Along with its rich history, Harpers Ferry also has plenty of activities such as fishing, kayaking, tubing, swimming, hiking, rock climbing, and even zip lining.
John Brown’s Fort – The main reason people visit Harpers Ferry, John Brown’s Fort, began as a firehouse. The fort was sold in 1891 and sent to the Chicago World’s Fair for public exhibition. In 1894, Kate Field, a Washington D.C. journalist, led a campaign to return the fort to Harpers Ferry. It now sits about a hundred yards from its original location.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal – The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal lost out to the railroads in the competition to bring freight to Harper’s Ferry. There is no water in the canal, but you can still see the locks, the canal, and the towpath. It’s a great spot to just hang or take some pictures. Follow the Appalachian Trail from John Brown’s Fort, onto the trestle, and over the river for about ten minutes. The lockmaster’s house still stands but isn’t open to visitors.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park – The Park sits on land in Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet. In 1944, the area was designated a National Monument and in 1963 a National Historical Park. Most of the historic sites are in the lower town along the river in West Virginia. The park has over a dozen sites of interest some of which are the Restoration Museum, the Industry Museum, a Blacksmith Shop, A Place in Time Museum, the Provost Marshal Office, Stipes’ Boarding House, the Dry Goods Store, Arsenal Square, John Brown’s Fort, the John Brown Museum, the Civil War Museum, White Hall Tavern, and the Harper Cemetery.
Harper Cemetery – The four-acre cemetery still serves the town today. Robert Harper, who operated the original ferry, and some of his family, are buried in the lower section. Another gravestone of note belongs to a local kayaker, Tim Gavin, who died in 1998. The town runs a race on the river each year in his honor.
Harpers Ferry and Antietam Battlefields – The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American History. Twenty-three thousand men were wounded or killed after just twelve hours of fighting. The commanding victory by the Confederate Army eventually led to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Activities – Harpers Ferry has plenty of outdoor activities year round. Because it sits on the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, visitors enjoy fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, or swimming in the warm weather. There are also many hiking trails, rock climbing, and even zip lining. Overall, the rich history, ample activities, and beautiful scenery make Harpers Ferry a very worthy destination.
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Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about things to do in Harper’s Ferry.
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