When we left Shenandoah the plan was to drive straight up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I was studying the map and saw that Harpers Ferry, West Virginia was on our route so we decided to make a small stop to break up the drive. Harpers Ferry is a restored historic town at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon.
When we arrived, there was a lot more to visit and explore than we expected. We started with the museum about John Brown who dedicated his life to abolishing slavery. He led a raid on Harpers Ferry, freeing the enslaved Africans and took control of an armory building. He was killed in the raid and the slaves were recaptured, but his actions influenced the start of the Civil War. He is considered a martyr for the abolition of slavery. Since it was late in the day and most of the sites were closing, we decided to camp nearby in 5-star (=very expensive) campground. Our fancy campground came with a heated swimming pool so we went for a swim before fixing dinner and then spent the evening doing laundry.
The following morning, we continued our visit of the town. We hiked up to Jefferson rock where Thomas Jefferson is said to have stopped on a trip to New England. We visited some of the homes and shops which have been restored to their original appearances. Both for its beautiful location (also on the Appalachian Trail) and its historical significance, Harpers Ferry was a very worthwhile stop.
Still on the Civil War trail, we drove up to Gettysburg, to visit the battlefield and the accompanying Civil War Museums. We started the visit with a moving film narrated by Morgan Freeman which gave a broad overview of the battle and then saw the Cyclorama which was created in 1884, a sort of living picture which recreated the events of the battle itself. Then we spent hours in the very thorough museum which explored both the causes and consequences of the Civil War as well as the battle of Gettysburg itself and of course, Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. By then we were drained, but we spent a little time exploring the battlefield site and went to the cemetery where Lincoln delivered his famous words. It was moving site which brought this very important history to life. I’ll have to write about my analysis of the Civil War in another post.