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Harpers Ferry, WV

Maryland Heights Trails

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

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Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 10.4 miles / 16.7 km
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: The start of this hike is at the visitor center. You may attempt a shorter hike of 7.3 miles by riding the visitor center bus to Harpers Ferry lower town. This hike is straineous. President Abraham Lincoln backed out from reaching the summit once the trail became steep. Be prepared to hike up steep trails. Other than that, have fun!

The Confederate Advance
Brigadier General John G. Walker commanded one wing of Jackson's three-pronged advance. Crossing the Potomac River at Noland's Ferry near Point of Rocks, Maryland, Walker advanced across the northern Virginia countryside to the eastern slope of Loudoun Heights. Colonel Miles had neglected to post any men or artillery on these heights, considering them to be well within the range of Federal gunners on nearby Maryland Heights. Walker, facing no Union opposition, moved a battery of artillery up onto Loudoun Heights and, on September 14, exchanged the first artillery fire with Union guns at Harpers Ferry.

Major General Lafayette McLaws commanded the second wing of the Confederate advance. McLaws understood the topography around Harpers Ferry well. At 1,448 feet, Maryland Heights was the highest ridge overlooking Harpers Ferry. "So long as Maryland Heights was occupied by the enemy," he wrote, "Harper's Ferry could never be occupied by us. If we gained possession of the heights, the town was no longer tenable to them."

McLaws ordered two infantry brigades to advance south along the crest of Elk Ridge – the northern extension of Maryland Heights. On September 13, these Confederates drove 4,600 Union defenders off the mountain despite "a most obstinate and determined resistance." One day later, McLaws opened fire on Harpers Ferry with four guns.


Tips: Make sure to bring a trail map with you. Trail maps are free and located at the Visitor Center. Bring plenty of fluids and snacks. The Maryland Heights Overlook is a great spot to have lunch.

Points of Interest

Viewpoint
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History in the Mountains

The marker inscription reads:
"I will pledge myself that there is not a spot in the United States which combines more or greater requisites...."
George Washington
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.
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Harpers Ferry Lower Town Trail

The trail to Harpers Ferry is located towards the back of the visitor center parking lot. There is a sign posted near the trail indicating the entrance.
Water
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Harpers Ferry Lower Town Trail

Spring water flows down the mountain and creates a small fountain at the bottom.
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Harpers Ferry Lower Town Trail

Sign indicating the direction towards the lower town.
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Harpers Ferry Lower Town Trail

Sign indicating the direction towards the lower town. A parking lot and access to the river may be found here.
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Shenandoah Pulp Factory

The Halls Island trail was taken here.

The nearby marker inscription reads:
In 1877-1888, on the former site of the Shenandoah Canal's lower locks, Thomas Savery erected this large mill to provide wood pulp for the paper industry.

Ten turbines, arranged in pairs in the mill's five massive sluiceways, powered wood grinders, rolling machines, and other pulp-making machinery. By the 1920's, Savery's mill had the capacity to produce 15 tons of ground wood pulp daily.

After several unprofitable years, the mill closed in 1935. Within a year the building was destroyed by the record flood of 1936.

Its ruins reveal the last remnant of water-powered industry in Harpers Ferry.
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Virginius Islands Trail - Head Gates

This section of the trail is along the Shenandoah River.

The nearby marker inscription reads:
These brick-lined archways, or "head gates," built around 1850, once controlled much of the island's waterpower. From here, a "wing dam" extended across the Shenandoah River, funneling water through the arches and into the inner basin. A gate at the opening of each arch controlled the flow.

After passing through the head gates, the water was stored in the inner basin until dispersed via raceways and tunnels to the mills and factories. Over time, silt and sand accumulated and eventually filled the basin.
Water
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Shenandoah River

The nearby marker inscription reads:
The power of the Shenandoah River once made Virginius Island valuable real estate. Armory Superintendent James Stubblefield purchased the island in 1824 for $15,000. Two months later he almost doubled his investment by selling the island as four tracts while promoting its industrial potential. By the mid-1850s, businessman Abraham Herr had paid almost $47,000 for this 13-acre island.

The river signified both friend and enemy to the industrialists and residents here. As long as it stayed within its banks, the factories and mills harnessed its power to run machinery. When the Shenandoah ranged out of control, however, its once friendly power destroyed everything in its path.

The Shenandoah and its branches flow 150 miles through the fertile Shenandoah Valley, once described as "the breadbasket of the Confederacy." It empties into the Potomac River just downstream at Harpers Ferry.
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Virginius Island Trail

The marker inscription at the bridge reads:
In the shadow of the United States Armory at Harpers Ferry, private industry thrived. Across this canal is Virginius Island, site of a town that once bustled with pre-Civil War businesses and the activities of 200 people. Built along the banks of the Shenandoah, the town's thriving factories were powered by the same river that later destroyed them.

Virginius Island today has returned to nature, but a stroll along this trail offers a glimpse into its colorful past. As you explore, search for ruins of canals, dams, tunnels, homes, and mills - all built by optimistic businessmen who harnessed the power of the Shenandoah River.
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Floods

The highest flood crest recorded on the board occurred in 1936. Others noted include 1889, 1896, 1902, 1924, 1942, 1972, 1985, and 1996 (twice).

The marker inscription reads:
Waterpower built this town, and the power of the water eventually destroyed it.

The destruction of the Federal Armory during the Civil War began the town's decline. Many people who had left Harpers Ferry during the war did return, only to be driven away again - and this time permanently - by the devastating flood of 1870 and those that soon followed. Harpers Ferry never fully recovered.
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Early Travel

The Shenandoah and Potomac River collide at this location. This spot is great for pictures.

The nearby marker reads:
Situated in a gap of the Blue Ridge Mountains and at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Harpers Ferry, from its beginning, functioned as a natural avenue of transportation.

The first mode of travel consisted of a primitive ferry established in 1733 by Peter Stephens. Stephens sold his business to Robert Harper in 1747, and Harper and others carried settlers and supplies across the waters until 1824 when a bridge constructed across the Potomac made ferryboat operations unnecessary.
In less than a decade after the completion of the bridge, the iron horse and the mule brought the transportation revolution to Harpers Ferry.
Water
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Maryland Heights

Use the walking bridge to cross the Potomac River. The bridge is enclosed on its sides by a fence to protect anyone from falling over.
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Maryland Heights

The sign indicates the direction towards Maryland Heights. Use caution when crossing the road.
Mountain
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Exploring Maryland Heights

The nearby marker inscription reads:
As the highest ridge surrounding the town of Harpers Ferry, Maryland Heights once bustled with private industry and Civil War occupation.

Antietam Iron Works, a major nail producer in the early 1800s, burned the timber of the heights for charcoal to fuel furnace and forges. Traces of charcoal hearths and roads remain today as testimony to this industry.

Civil War earthworks, stone fortifications, and encampments transformed the mountain into a fortress from 1862 to 1865. Today, these former defenses and camps are some of the best preserved Civil War ruins in the United States.

Nature has reclaimed Maryland Heights, but hiking these trails offers a look at the weathered and silent ruins of the past.

Suggested Day Hikes
Overlook Cliff Trail (red)
A steady climb to a scenic overlook with excellent views of Harpers Ferry and the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. This trail also explores a Civil War fortification.
Distance: 2.8 miles
Time: 2 hours round trip.

Stone Fort Trail (blue)
A more strenuous hike, steep in spots, to the summit. Along the way are weathered charcoal hearths and the ruins of Civil War defenses and military campgrounds. Scenic vista reveal Maryland Heights as a strategic mountain citadel on the border between the North and South.
Distance:
4.7 miles
Time: 3 hours round trip

Be Prepared!
These trails have strenuous uphill sections, no restrooms, and no water supply.
Due to the steep and uneven terrain, the trails are not accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.

Federal law requires protection of these irreplaceable ruins and artifacts. Leave them undisturbed.
Viewpoint
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Maryland Heights - Mountain Fortress of Harpers Ferry

You are standing on the border between North and South during the Civil War. As the highest ridge surrounding Harpers Ferry, Maryland Heights played a prominent role in the strategic operations of both the Union and Confederacy.

Southern forces under Col. Thomas J. Jackson first occupied this ground in early May 1861, violating Maryland's neutrality. Confederates remained here until they abandoned Harpers Ferry on June 15, 1861.
"I have finished reconnoitering the Maryland Heights, and have determined to fortify them at once, and hold them...be the cost what it may."
Col. Thomas J Jackson
May 7, 1861

Jackson returned fifteen months later, during the Confederacy's first major invasion of the North. "Stonewall" Jackson, as he was now called, directed a three-pronged siege of the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, seizing Maryland Heights from the north on September 13, 1862. Two days later Federal commander Dixon Miles surrendered, allowing Jackson to rush his forces to Sharpsburg to join Gen. Robert E. Lee.

On September 22, 1862, five days after the Battle of Antietam and Confederate withdrawal from Maryland, Union troops once again occupied the Heights. Federal Commander George B. McClellan ordered fortifications built to deter future invasion, protect the B&O Railroad, and guard the U.S. supply depot at Harpers Ferry. By the end of 1863, Union troops had built eight fortifications, at times defended by 10,000 soldiers.
"I have determined to fortify [Maryland Heights] in order to avoid a similar catastrophe to the one which happened to Colonel Miles."
Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan
September 26, 1862

Despite this mountain fortress, Confederate invasion continued. During the Gettysburg Campaign, General Lee sidestepped the Heights position, crossing the Potomac 12 miles northwest near Shepherdstown. In July 1864, Jubal Early's 14,000 Rebels demonstrated against these defenses, but left them behind en route to Washington, D.C.

Federal soldiers and their cannon finally departed Maryland Heights in July 1865, three months after Lee's surrender. Behind them they left their forts and campgrounds - reminders of America's bloodiest war.
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Hiking Maryland Heights

Here the trail divides and the choice is yours. Time and hiking difficulties are important factors as you select your trail route.

The Stone Fort Trail
To your left, is a strenuous but rewarding hike to the summit. The route passes Civil War forts and campgrounds, scenic overlooks and weathered charcoal hearths.
Distance: 3.3 miles
Time: 3 hours round trip.

Be Prepared!
There are no restrooms or water along either trail.

The Road to Retreat
You are hiking the same mountain road that defeated Federal troops descended on September 13, 1862. Despite a six-hour resistance upon the crest against a 2,000-man Confederate advance, Union defenders received orders at 3:00 p.m. to withdraw from Maryland Heights and "fall back to Harpers Ferry in good order." Forty hours later, with the capture of Harpers Ferry by Stonewall Jackson, Union commander Col. Dixon S. Miles surrendered 12,500 men, including the 2,000 defenders from Maryland Heights.

The Overlook Cliff Trail
To your right, is a moderate but pleasant hike to a scenic overlook of Harpers Ferry and the Shenandoah Valley.
Distance: 1.4 miles
Time: 1.5 hours round trip
Viewpoint
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Making a Mountain Citadel

The nearby marker inscription reads:
Tired and breathless? You are experiencing the hardship of a Union soldier climbing to reach his work place (a fort) or his home (a tent or log cabin). Try ascending this road hauling a 9,700-pound gun tube or a week's supply of water. From 1862 through 1863, the Federals built seven fortifications and staked out numerous encampments on this rugged and remote mountain. Maj. Frank Rolfe of the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment described the effort:
"...the batteries were situated from 250 to 2,065 feet above the river and the roads leading to them very rocky, steep and crooked and barely wide enough for a wagon. Over these roads the guns, ammunition and supplies of all kind were hauled."

Timber cutting was another tedious job for the Federals. Soldiers clear-cut the upper third of the mountain to provide adequate lines of fire and supplies of wood for shelter and campfires. Lt. Charles F. Morse of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry recorded this entry on October 20, 1862, while commanding a detachment of 100 tree-choppers:
"We began our labor at the bottom of a ravine and worked up a steep hill. Sometimes there would be as many as twenty or thirty fine trees falling at once; they reminded me of men falling in battle, that same dead, helpless fall."

Your perseverance to reach the summit was almost - but not quite - shared by President Abraham Lincoln when he visited Maryland Heights on October 2, 1862. After a formal review of the army, Lt. Charles Morse guided the presidential party toward the summit:
"I showed the way until we got to a path where it was right straight up, when Lincoln backed out. I think it must have reminded him of a little story about a very steep place; at any rate around they turned and went down the mountain."
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Charcoal Making on Maryland Heights

The nearby marker inscription reads:
The charcoal industry required wood; Maryland Heights offered plenty. From 1810 to 1848 the Antietam Iron Works, 7 miles to the north, cut trees on the mountain to make charcoal to fuel its furnace and forges. The burning charcoal helped produce refined iron, from which the Antietam Iron Works made nails and other tools.

Just above you are the remains of a typical charcoal hearth, one of 57 recorded on the 783 acres of Maryland Heights. Colliers, the skilled men who made the charcoal, formed a hearth by clearing a level oblong platform on the mountain slope. Over a ten-day burning period, a hearth transformed 50 cords of wood into 1750 bushels of charcoal.

Crude sled and wagon roads formed the arteries of the charcoal industry. After cutting a woodlot, laborers dragged timber downhill along a sled road to a hearth, where the colliers made the charcoal. Then via wagon roads, teamsters hauled the charcoal off the mountain to the ironworks. Over time, about 23 miles of road covered these Heights. Many were later improved by Civil War soldiers. Some you hike today.

Building a Charcoal Pit
The collier first built a triangular chimney in the center of the hearth and filled it with wood chips and other flammable material. Next he stacked 30 to 50 cords of wood tightly around the chimney. Leaves and a layer of dirt and charcoal dust completed the pit. The chimney was lit from the top and covered.

Tending the Charring
A burning hearth produced tremendous smoke. It needed constant care to prevent fire from burning through the outer layer. If too much air entered the stack, an open flame reduced the wood to useless ash. The demands of charring required a collier to live in a make-shift hut near the hearth during the burning period.

Acres to Burn
• An iron works factor owned vast acres of hardwood forest which supplied charcoal to fuel their furnaces.
• One cord of wood is 128 cubic feet.
• Thirty cords equals one acre.
• A charcoal hearth burned two acres.
• A furnace burned up 276 acres annually.
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Maryland Heights

This section of the trail lies along the top of the mountain. The trail is leveled at this section.
Campground
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Civil War Campgrounds

The marker inscription reads:
For more than three years - May 1862 through July 1865 - Union soldiers lived, worked, and played on Maryland Heights. They built numerous campgrounds on this inhospitable mountain that lacked water, level ground, or adequate sanitation conditions.

The stone walls, visible across this plateau, perhaps marked a camp boundary; they may simply be rock mounds piled by soldiers while clearing a camp site. As you continue along the trail, look for clues of encampments such as stone foundations and ground depressions.

A soldier's quarters could vary greatly, from primitive canopies and tents to elaborate log cabins. Whatever the style, all quarters on the Heights were built to protect the soldier from the weather - a nearly impossible task.
"After a varied experience of wind, snow, sleet, hail, rain, and mud, the men came to the conclusion that it was nowhere else than up here among these mountains that the weather was made and tried on."
-Joseph Kirkley, 7th Maryland Infantry

Heavy artillery units assigned to specific fortifications resided in huts or cabins weathered to withstand the harsh winters. This 1864 charcoal drawing of a Signal Corps campground reflects the elaborate quarters built on Maryland Heights.
"Our little group of five built our cabin on a bow of a hill, we dug down about three feet and leveled a space about eight by ten feet, the sides were built with logs and the chinks filled with clay; the roof was laid with saplings covered with the earth which we dug while leveling the space. We made a stove out of a piece of heavy sheet iron picked up in the ruins of the old arsenal at Harpers Ferry..."
-Frederick Wild, 1862
Baltimore Battery of Light Artillery

Sibley tents, often adjusted to suit the soldiers' needs, served as basic shelter for infantry regiments.
"The boys have raised the tent about 2 feet with logs and put the tent on top. The cracks they will plaster shut and then we can keep warm."
-William J. Reichard, October 1862
128th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
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Exterior Fort

The nearby marker inscription reads:
Built in 1863 to strengthen a double row of rifle-pits and to protect against attack from the north, the Exterior Fort consisted of two parallel rock walls, or breastworks, about 530 feet apart. The south line, visible in front of you, extended 520 feet down the mountain's steep western slope. The north defensive work extended 560 feet. Together they enclosed about 3 acres, including a campground.

Typical of such breastworks, these lines consisted of a thick, dry-laid stone wall that stood about breast high. A mounded, earthen embankment covered the north side of each wall. Along the base ran a shallow ditch. Described as a "double line of rifle-pits," these embankments provided protection for soldiers firing toward the north.

The opening here in the south breastwork is the only entrance into the Exterior Fort. About 20 feet south are stone remains of the blockhouse which guarded this entrance.
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Breastworks

The sign indicates that this section of the trail contained breastworks. The last brigade, under Colonel Thomas Ford, was placed in an isolated position on Maryland Heights. Ford constructed a line of breastworks consisting of logs and rocks, and cut trees to form an abatis in front.
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Interior Fort

The nearby marker reads:
You are standing inside the Interior Fort, facing its north wall - the most imposing earthwork on Maryland Heights. This nine-foot-high parapet and accompanying ditch defended the crest from attack from the north. The five embrasures which cut through this wall served as artillery positions for howitzer guns, and later, 30-pounder Parrott Rifles.

A Union recommendation that "all plateaus or gentle slopes between the crest and Harpers Ferry be held" suggests the purpose and origin of the Interior Fort. As a rectangular earthwork, its defensive position included part of the mountain's crest and a narrow plateau just below. Built during the winter of 1862-1863, it borders the Exterior Fort on the west and encompasses the Stone Fort within its southeast corner.

Archaeological surveys recorded thirteen powder magazines on Maryland Heights, three within this fort. Used to store gun powder and shells, these 30'x20' rectangular excavations were dug to a depth of eight feet, supported by a heavy timber superstructure and covered with earth and sod.

Working around a powder magazine could be hazardous, especially to the untrained but enthusiastic soldier, as revealed in this passge by Joseph Barry, a local citizen:
"A company of them [the Hundred-Day Men from Ohio] were preparing dinner and, not having anything convenient on which to build their fire, they procured from an ammunition wagon several large shells on which they piled their wood which was soon ablaze. 'Round the fire they all squatted... Soon a terrific explosion shook the surrounding hills, sending all the culinary utensils flying over the tree tops and, unfortunately, killing or wounding nearly every man of the group."
Viewpoint
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Stone Fort

The nearby marker inscription reads:
To command Maryland Heights' highest point, the Federals built this massive foundation, called the Stone Fort in the winter of 1862-63.

Union engineers designed this defense as an infantry blockhouse to ward off Confederate attack along the crest. The Northerners completed the blockhouse foundation but never constructed a superstructure. By September, 1863, the Union garrison had transformed the Stone Fort into a commissary and storage area.

During an inspection by Brig. Gen. Max Weber in April 1864, the Stone Fort was described as "surrounded with a wall of solid stone, containing rations for five thousand men, [and] only covered with boards." - a practical but unfitting use for this imposing structure.
Viewpoint
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100 - Pounder Battery - Heaviest and Highest

The nearby marker inscription reads:
During an inspection in late April 1863, Brig. Gen. John G. Barnard recommended that a gun be placed at a high point on this crest, "surrounded by a wall of sandbags, and arranged to fire not only on Loudoun Heights [across the Potomac] but into either of the valleys east and west of Maryland Heights." To comply with Barnard's recommendation, Union soldiers mounted a 100-pounder Parrott rifle on this manmade platform. With the mountain cleared of trees, the gun easily covered a 360° target range.

Men from the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery hauled this 9,700-pound gun tube up 1,200 vertical feet to this platform. From "200-500 men were required to haul one of these guns up the mountain."

The 100-pounder's supporting platform was the highest and widest manmade gun platform on the mountain. The gun's weight and elevation on the mountain probably made it the heaviest gun at the highest elevation east of the Mississippi during the Civil War.
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100 - Pounder Battery Site

This was the 100 pounder battery site. Not much of a scenic view here, but there may be a better scenic view during the late fall and winter.
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Powder Magazine

You may notice that on this section of the trail, the ground feels hallow underneath your feet as if you were walking on top of a buried tunnel.

Archaeological surveys recorded thirteen powder magazines on Maryland Heights, three within this fort. Used to store gun powder and shells, these 30'x20' rectangular excavations were dug to a depth of eight feet, supported by a heavy timber superstructure and covered with earth and sod.

Working around a powder magazine could be hazardous, especially to the untrained but enthusiastic soldier, as revealed in this passge by Joseph Barry, a local citizen:
"A company of them [the Hundred-Day Men from Ohio] were preparing dinner and, not having anything convenient on which to build their fire, they procured from an ammunition wagon several large shells on which they piled their wood which was soon ablaze. 'Round the fire they all squatted... Soon a terrific explosion shook the surrounding hills, sending all the culinary utensils flying over the tree tops and, unfortunately, killing or wounding nearly every man of the group."
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30-Pounder Battery

The nearby marker inscription reads:
Positioned here at the end of a towering plateau, this fortification was the first earthen battery built on the mountain by the Federals in the fall of 1862. Facing south, its guns "commanded perfectly the summits of Loudoun Heights as well as Bolivar Heights."

A four-sided earthwork forms the dominant feature of this battery. Protecting its exterior slope is a dry moat - the widest, longest, and most uniform moat on the mountain. 30-pounder Parrotts were standard armament here.
Junction
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Maryland Heights

Make a left on the trail to go towards the Maryland Heights Overlook.
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Maryland Heights

The sign indicates the direction towards Maryland Heights Overlook.
Viewpoint
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Harpers Ferry - Changes through Time

Situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Harpers Ferry was named for Robert Harper, a millwright who continued a ferry operation here in 1747. The waterpower of the two rivers - harnessed for industry - generated tremendous growth in Harpers Ferry. By the mid-19th century, the town had become an important arms-producing center and east-west transportation link. John Brown's raid and the Civil War brought Harpers Ferry to national prominence. Destruction from the war and repeated flooding eventually led to the town's decline.
Junction
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Naval Battery

The sign indicates the direction toaward the Naval Battery.
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Naval Battery

The nearby marker reads:
Positioned 300 feet above the Potomac River the Naval Battery was the first Union fortification on Maryland Heights. Hastily built in May 1862, its naval guns were rushed here from the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard. Along with a detachment of 300 sailors and marines, the battery was equipped to protect Harpers Ferry from Confederate attack during Stonewall Jackson's famous Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862.

Thwarted that spring, Jackson returned to Harpers Ferry in mid-September 1862, during the Confederacy's first invasion of the North. Jackson's three-day siege included an infantry battle on the crest of Maryland Heights on September 13, in which the Confederates advanced south along the ridgetop. The Naval Battery guns were turned uphill to pound the crest, but orders to retreat forced the Federals to abandon the mountain and this battery.

On September 22, one week after the Union surrender at Harpers Ferry, U.S. forces returned to Maryland Heights to build fortifications at better locations on the crest and slope of the Heights. The Naval Battery lost its defensive importance and eventually became an ordnance depot.
Water
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Potomac River

This section of the trail is along the Potomac River. The cool breeze from the river may be felt here.
Landmark
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John Brown Fort

The nearby marker reads:
You are in the line of fire. The stone marker in front of you identifies the original site of the armory fire engine house - now known as John Brown's Fort. Barricaded inside the fort, abolitionist John Brown and his men held off local militia and U.S. Marines for three days in October 1859. Brown's men fired from inside the fort at militiamen and townspeople who shot back from positions around you. Finally, U.S. Marines stormed past where you stand, battered down the door, and captured Brown and his few remaining men. Famous orator and former slave Frederick Douglass later proclaimed that Brown's fight here began "the war the ended slavery."
Landmark
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White Hall Tavern

The nearby marker inscription reads:
Located directly across from the U.S. Armory, the White Hall Tavern was an 1850's community gathering place, where white males debated politics; discussed local events; and protested armory management, wages and layoffs. The tavern's close proximity easily tempted armory workers to raise a glass, or two... or three, before and during work. As a result, Armory officials took a stand that public houses, such as White Hall Tavern, ruined morals, work ethics, and even threatened armory production. Crowded building conditions posed another threat - fire. In 1856 the U.S. Government purchased and removed the front section of the building. They subsequently widened the street, creating the needed safety buffer around the Armory.
Landmark
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St. John's Episcopal Church

The church marker inscription reads:
These weathered ruins are all that remain of St. John's Episcopal Church - one of Harpers Ferry's five earliest churches.

Built in 1852 with money provided by church fairs, St. John's served as a hospital and barracks during the Civil War and suffered considerable damage. It was rebuilt afterward, but was abandoned in 1895 when a new Episcopal church was built in the upper town.
Viewpoint
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Jefferson Rock

The marker inscription near Jefferson Rock reads:
"On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac [Potomac], in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea....This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic."

This is how Thomas Jefferson described the view from here during a visit to Harpers Ferry in 1783. Around 1860, the U.S. armory superintendent ordered red sandstone supports placed under "Jefferson Rock" because it was "endangering the lives and properties of the villagers below."
Junction
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Appalachian Trail

The sign indicaties trail directions. Follow the direction towards Loudon Heights.
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Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian trail on this section goes up and down.
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Appalachian Trail

You will need to cross Shenandoah Street. Use caution when crossing the road.
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Harpers Ferry

Follow the road down and cut through the parking lot.
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Lower Town Trail

Walk up the stairs within the parking lot and cross the road to get back on the Lower Town trail. The Lower Town Trail sign may be seen across the road.
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Visitor Center

The visitor center has a pay phone, drink vending machine, and public restroom within the premises.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Lucky_Dog

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About the Author

Lucky_Dog
Lucky_Dog
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My paws may be short, but I can hike like the big dogs.

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