Harper’s Ferry captivated me from the moment we hit the trail head at the National Park Visitor Center.
A lovely wooded trail descended down a set of massive stone steps along a creek and waterfall to reach the canal and Shenandoah river. We followed the river for about a mile and arrived in the 1840’s, the National Park historic downtown.
Harper’s Ferry is a place where things come together.
- 2 rivers (The Shenandoah and Potomac)
- 3 states (Virginia, West Virginia & Maryland)
- 2 centuries ( the 19th and the 21st)
Another well- known convergence is that of John Brown and the local residents in 1859. The story of his life as an abolitionist and his raid on the town is well and thoroughly told by the park service, and that alone is a great reason to visit.
Yet another fascinating meeting -The Appalachian Trail comes across the river, along the cemetery, and into historic downtown. I imagined hikers, after days or weeks in the forest and mountains, walking right into the 19th century, and how that must feel.
Harper’s Ferry is the traditional halfway point for through hikers, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is well worth a visit. It’s staffed by the contagiously enthusiastic volunteers, including Glen, who will do his congenial best to make an AT lover out of you. There is a comfortable hiker lounge, and every hiker who comes through is documented with a photo, kept in albums going back to the 70’s! We had fun finding a couple of people we knew in their records.
The theme of convergence runs through so many aspects of this beautiful little spit of land. This idea has influenced my thinking the past few days.
I’m paying more attention to the people, ideas, and things that cross my path. How can I be open to what these convergences might mean, how they might change things, or change me. I love the way that travel is so much more than seeing new things; it always has things to teach me.
On another note, I felt as though poor Mr. Harper, who started the whole place with his ferry, got very little attention, other than his mansion on the hillside, which is preserved as part of the National Park.
Let me know in the comments. What is one memorable thing that traveling has taught you? I’d love to know!