For my birthday we decided to go south in the search of warmer weather, and to explore different mountain ranges since we always travel north. We start at Maryland Heights, which offers beautiful views of Harpers Ferry and the Potomac River. During the Civil War, this trail offered refuge to the Union soldiers. As we climbed the steep historical trail, we realized that the army once hauled up numerous supplies up these mountain paths; which included heavy gunpowder magazines, ammunition, cannons, food, water, and other military resources. We stopped along the way taking a couple of pictures and reading the signage that described the different ruins. Along the journey we imagined the pain the soldiers had to endure during their hike to the top of the ridge. Once we reached the top of the mountain peak, we explored the ruins of the military camp. This huge stone fortification was constructed entirely by the soldiers hands. They created the walls of the fort by gathering huge boulders, while scattering small stones indicating the foundations for tents or log cabins. We explored the remains of the hand dug trenches, charcoal hearths, and powder magazine structures. During the war a 100 and a 30 pound batteries were placed at the edge of the cliffs overlooking the surrounding valley; the tube of the Parrot Rifle weighted 100-tons and could send a 100 pound shell two miles! We both love learning about history, and we both left the mountain in awe of it’s views and the Civil War army’s way of life.
We walked around the historic town of Harpers Ferry and were immersed in the Civil War time period. We explored a couple of the old Quaker buildings, which included a bookstore and old fashioned candy shop. We visited the preserved John Brown fort and read about the abolitionist and his men who visited Harpers Ferry with the hopes of capturing their arsenal. Next, we hopped on the Appalachian Trail and climbed the hand carved steps to the top of Jefferson’s rock. The landmark derives it’s name from Jefferson, because he wrote in the Notes on the State of Virginia that “this scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic”.
Harper Ferry is also a significant milestone on both the C&O Tow Path and the Appalachian Trail; the Appalachian Trail Conservancy wall of fame was truly inspirational.