As you may remember, last fall I was still living in Ohio trying to sell our house while Ben lived and worked out here in Maryland, trying to find a new house for us in his "spare" time. I wanted Ben to come home every weekend, but, needless to say, that was not feasible or even possible. Some weekends he managed to enjoy a day trip with Julie and Andrew, and one of their favorite trips turned out to be a day spent in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. They have been telling me about it ever since, and we have been waiting for the "perfect" day to make that trip together. We decided on last Saturday, which, as my previous post details, was not the perfect day. But it was the day we spent there, and I enjoyed it very much. Moreover, I can't wait to go back again.
Harper's Ferry is really the perfect melange, if you will, of things I enjoy doing on an outing (as we prefer to call it.) It is close, first of all. It took us about an hour to drive from our house to the parking lot where one boards the shuttle bus for town. It is best to go early in the day before it gets too crowded. We love to get an early start. It is really beautiful and scenic. Harper's Ferry is situated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, which cut through steep, tree-covered hills as they converge and flow south. There is a train tunnel through solid rock that is still in active use by the railroads. We saw easily a half dozen trains while we were there. We love to see trains.
The town itself climbs up the side of a hill, with the oldest part of town along the river bank. Interpretive signs explain that this quiet little town was once a bustling center of industry, with many businesses harnessing the power of the rivers to run their great machinery. Arms were manufactured and stored there, to be shipped up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Now, maybe you knew all this already, but I didn't, and suddenly I understood what brought John Brown to Harper's Ferry instead of somewhere else. So. Something else I love to have on a good outing - an interesting educational experience. And that was just the first of many as we gradually climbed the flights of stairs up the steep hillside.
We found a nice mix of shops and historical buildings, many of which were outfitted as they had been during the prosperous times before the Civil War. We did some shopping, as I mentioned in my earlier post, and had a nice lunch. But we also climbed further and further up the hill in the drizzling rain, coming to a beautiful native stone church overlooking the town, and above that, Jefferson Rock, where Thomas Jefferson once stood and commented on the spectacular view of the rivers. Thomas Jefferson. I know it is no longer politically correct to admire Thomas Jefferson, but I do, and I was awed to be walking in his footsteps, as it were.
I know there are things I am leaving out, but the point is we had a great time, learned a lot, and will definitely make return trips to Harper's Ferry. It is one of those places that I look forward to seeing all different times of year, and I know I will learn more each time I am there. How nice that it is only an hour away.