History in the Mountains
"I will pledge myself that there is not a spot in the United States which combines more or greater requisites...."
May 5, 1798
Harpers Ferry's history and geography have influenced each other for more than 250 years. Early settlers crossed these mountains and operated ferries across the rivers. George Washington, impressed with the area's natural resources, convinced Congress to establish a U.S. armory and arsenal here. The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, which cut the gap through the Blue Ridge, provided the water power for industry at Harpers Ferry.
But Harpers Ferry's location had disadvantages too. The rivers that powered the factories brought frequent floods. The armory and defensible mountains attracted John Brown and his plan to end slavery. The mountain gap, armory, railroad, and canal made the area a military target during the Civil War. After the war had stripped the mountains of their trees and destroyed the town's industry, only Storer College and its education of former slaves provided hope for Harpers Ferry.
During your visit, look for the intermingling of geography and history - it is the story of Harpers Ferry.