Freedoms Run Marathon in Harpers Ferry, WV

Local History

Arsenal Square

The Point at Harper’s Ferry is both scenic and historic. Your view between the gap in the Blue Ridge showcases the confluence of the two rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah. Residents refer to this region in WV as “The Land between the Two Rivers”.

Harper’s Ferry was selected as the site of the nation’s second armory in 1794 by George Washington. The land was purchased from the heirs of Robert Harper who owned the ferry that crossed the river at this location.

George Washington’s role in this purchase was central to his vision of this region’s economic development. The river was paramount to his thinking of the expansion of trade and commerce and the nation looked westward.

Industrial development was born by the construction of the “United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry.” By 1805, muskets, rifles and pistols were manufactured here. By 1810 the annual production of arms averaged about 10,000.

The Civil War brought destruction to both the armory and arsenal, when Lt. Robert Jones of the U.S. Army ordered the buildings torched on April 17 1861 after Virginia seceded from the Union. He then retreated across the river into Maryland. By the end of the Civil War, only the Armory’s fire engine and guard house, John Brown’s Fort remained intact. Today, the Armory Grounds are almost completely covered by railroad track embankments.

John Brown’s Fort

The site of the Fort today, is not the original location of the building.

The building housed an engine and guard-house for the Armory. Its original location was up Potomac Street across from the main entrance to the Armory Grounds.

It was this building that abolitionist, John Brown and his followers occupied on October 16, 1859. This event is being commemorated by Harper’s Ferry NHP in the 2009 events ( Please link to the site to see the many events planned for this year.

The raiders captured the bridge and seized the armory and arsenal. He had come to Harper’s Ferry to arm an uprising of slaves which never materialized. John Brown was captured on the morning of October 18th by marines under the command of General Robert E. Lee. He was taken to the Jefferson County Courthouse in nearby Charles Town where he was tried and convicted. He was hung on December 2 1859 a few blocks from the Court House.

Brown issued this prophetic warming before his sentence was carried out:

“I wish to say furthermore, that you had better – all you people at the South – prepare yourselves for a settlement of that question that must come up for settlement sooner than you are prepared for it. The sooner you are prepared the better. You may dispose of me very easily; I am nearly disposed of now; but this question is still to be settled – this negro question I mean – the end of that is not yet.”

Murphy Farm Loop and the Shenandoah River

Full Marathon

Start at Harpers Ferry Visitors Center (Shoreline) –turn right onto Campground- right onto Murphy to Murphy Farm Loop- follow a sand pebble lane to a cliff that overlooks the Shenandoah River then turn around and retrace your route back to the Visitors Center – follow Shenandoah Rd in the wrong direction into the town of Harpers Ferry – continue straight till the road ends at John Browns Fort on your right.

Alexander Murphy purchased the 99 acre property in 1869. The property had been confiscated by Union forces in 1862 and the house was heavily damaged. Mr. Murphy helped to preserve John Brown’s Fort. The original Murphy Farm House was built after acquisition in 1869. The structure has been renovated by the NPS.

The Farm was the site of John Brown’s Fort after it had a curious journey from its original location in the Lower Town. It was removed from the town in 1891 and taken to the World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago where it was dismantled and left abandoned. In 1893 it was shipped by the B&O Railroad back to Harpers Ferry and it Alexander Murphy offered to house the structure on his farm as part of a business arrangement.

In August of 1906 the fort was the site of a pilgrimage by members of the Niagara Movement, the first modern civil rights organization in America.

Shenandoah River Shore Line

The Farm Loop trail passes the shore of the Shenandoah River which drains about 3,000 square miles of the Shenandoah Valley and it is the largest tributary of the Potomac River.

George Washington first crossed the river as a sixteen year old surveyor’s apprentice in 1748. He was accompanied by George William Fairfax whose father, Colonel William Fairfax had title to all the land which was then known as the Northern Neck. Their mission was to plat out the Fairfax holdings along the South Branch of the Potomac.

Retired general George Washington, embarked on another journey to the “back country” in 1784 to see his property and visit with friends from his French and Indian War days in the region. He crossed over a ridge in the Blue Ridge, Vestal’s Gap, and crossed the river, probably at Keyes Ferry, to stay with his brother, Charles, at Happy Retreat. This home and Harewood, owned by Samuel Washington, another younger brother, is still standing in Charles Town WV.

George Washington had purchased property in what is now known as Summit Point south of Charles Town in 1750. This land was known as the “Bullskin Plantation”. He built a small stone house on the property and visited stayed there when visiting his land.

Virginius Island and the Shenandoah Canal

Early Industrial Development in the “Back Country”

“In 1824, the “Island in the Shenandoah River near Harpers Ferry,” containing about 13 acres was originally called Stubblefield’s Island.” (Walker’s Guide to Harpers Ferry) It later became incorporated into the town of Harpers Ferry and was known as Virginius Island.

Mills and dwellings of all types sprung up on Virginius, a cotton factory, flour mill, sawmill, machine shop, iron foundry, blacksmith shop, and a carriage factory.

River flooding was prevalent, and in 1852 it struck with a vengeance. A subsequent flood in 1870 destroyed much of the island’s commercial base. By 1924, the river had reclaimed the land.

The Shenandoah Canal

George Washington was the first president of the Potowmack Company which was formed to open up navigation on the Potomac River as he sort to make the river the route to the western regions of Maryland and Virginia.

The technology employed sought to deepen existing river channels above and below bypass canals thus bypassing the rapids of the river. In1806 work began on a 580 yard canal. The boats that traveled this route were called gundalows –“narrow flatbottom barges about nine feet wide and from 76 to 90 feet long.” (Walker’s Guide to Harpers Ferry)

The Civil War saw the end to the use of the canal but several attempts were made to reopen the canal after the war only to be terminated after the flood of 1870.

Arsenal Square

The Point at Harper’s Ferry is both scenic and historic. Your view between the gap in the Blue Ridge showcases the confluence of the two rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah. Residents refer to this region in WV as “The Land between the Two Rivers”.

Harper’s Ferry was selected as the site of the nation’s second armory in 1794 by George Washington. The land was purchased from the heirs of Robert Harper who owned the ferry that crossed the river at this location.

George Washington’s role in this purchase was central to his vision of this region’s economic development. The river was paramount to his thinking of the expansion of trade and commerce and the nation looked westward.

Industrial development was born by the construction of the “United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry.” By 1805, muskets, rifles and pistols were manufactured here. By 1810 the annual production of arms averaged about 10,000.

The Civil War brought destruction to both the armory and arsenal, when Lt. Robert Jones of the U.S. Army ordered the buildings torched on April 17 1861 after Virginia seceded from the Union. He then retreated across the river into Maryland. By the end of the Civil War, only the Armory’s fire engine and guard house, John Brown’s Fort remained intact. Today, the Armory Grounds are almost completely covered by railroad track embankments.

John Brown’s Fort

The site of the Fort today, is not the original location of the building.

The building housed an engine and guard-house for the Armory. Its original location was up Potomac Street across from the main entrance to the Armory Grounds.

It was this building that abolitionist, John Brown and his followers occupied on October 16, 1859. This event is being commemorated by Harper’s Ferry NHP in the 2009 events ( Please link to the site to see the many events planned for this year.

The raiders captured the bridge and seized the armory and arsenal. He had come to Harper’s Ferry to arm an uprising of slaves which never materialized. John Brown was captured on the morning of October 18th by marines under the command of General Robert E. Lee. He was taken to the Jefferson County Courthouse in nearby Charles Town where he was tried and convicted. He was hung on December 2 1859 a few blocks from the Court House.

Brown issued this prophetic warming before his sentence was carried out:

“I wish to say furthermore, that you had better – all you people at the South – prepare yourselves for a settlement of that question that must come up for settlement sooner than you are prepared for it. The sooner you are prepared the better. You may dispose of me very easily; I am nearly disposed of now; but this question is still to be settled – this negro question I mean – the end of that is not yet.”

C&O Canal

From Harpers Ferry to Miller’s Sawmill Road

Dam #3 and Lock 34

Lock 34 is the first lock after the Footbridge. This lock was built from grey limestone quarried in Shepherdstown WV, five miles up the river.

The remains of Dam #3 (Armory Dam) are still visible in the river. This dam was built for the armory at Harpers Ferry in 1799 but failed in its purpose to supply water to the newly constructed armory and nearby Shenandoah Canal. The dam was rebuilt in the late 1820’s to supply water to the canal.

The guard lock for Dam #3 is filled in to allow the towpath to cross over it. This inlet lock was also a lift lock as the water in the canal was at a lower level than the river.

The river and the canal were part of George Washington’s vision of the “Route to the West”. Iron ore was extracted from nearby Elk Run, site of the Keep Triest ore banks on the West Virginia side and on the Maryland side and boated up to the Antietam Ironworks located on Antietam Creek.
Lock 36 and Fort Duncan

“Fort Duncan was built by the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War to protect Harpers Ferry. The strategic need for the defenses had become apparent in September 1862 , when confederate General A.P. Hill captured Harpers Ferry during the Antietam campaign. The fort was begun in 1862 under General McClellan.” From The C&O Canal Companion by Mike High

Antietam Creek Aqueduct

“Completed in 1834, this three-arch aqueduct of blue-gray limestone is in the best condition of any of the larger, multiple-arched aqueducts, Antietam Creek runs south from Pennsylvania.” From The C&O Canal Companion by Mike High

Antietam Village and Ironworks

“Israel Friend bought land here in 1727, taking the unorthodox move of securing his property rights from Indians in the area, rather than from Lord Baltimore.” Friend sold his property rights to John Semple, who had interests in the Keep Triest Furnace on the WV side of the river.

The extraction of iron ore from the ore banks along the river in this location sparked several businessmen in the region of Sharpsburg. They bought up the land along the Maryland banks of the Potomac from here to Maryland Heights. George Washington, who had contacts with one of the businessmen, Joseph Chapline played a part in settling a dispute over mineral rights.

The business partnership with Semple and Chapline’s associates resulted in the establishment of the Frederick Forge which became the Antietam Ironworks.

A small village sprung up on this location at Antietam Creek and at its peak there were over 200 people employed at the blast furnace, sawmill and flour mill in addition to other small businesses.

Iron ore was shipped upstream from Harpers Ferry for conversion to iron bars which could then be shipped downriver to the Georgetown area for shipment overseas for fabrication. It was this commercial venture that was a catalyst for making the Potomac River navigable and it was John Semple’s visionary proposal to build a sluice or water channel to bypass the rapids above Harpers Ferry – what he termed a “Stillwater canal, with locks” From Robert J. Kapsch’s book – The Potomac Canal, George Washington and the Waterway West.

Miller’s Sawmill Road

This road leads up a steep hill into an intersection with Harpers Ferry Road. Miller’s Basin contains several houses that were built during the canal years. This was a market community where goods from the canal boats were traded.

From Antietam Battlefield to Shepherdstown

Burnside Bridge

Burnside Takes the Lower Bridge

From National Park Service OnLine Books – Antietam Handbook

During the morning of the 17th, Confederate observers on the ridge north of Sharpsburg had spotted masses of Federals moving southward beyond Antietam Creek. These were the four divisions of Burnside's IX Corps concentrating for the attack on the Lower Bridge.

Topography at the Lower Bridge heavily favored the few hundred Georgia men who defended it under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Robert Toombs. The road approaching the east end of the bridge swings on a course paralleling that of Antietam Creek; in the last few hundred yards before reaching the bridge, the road plunges into a funnel-like depression between the opposing bluffs of the creek. Toombs' men were in rifle pits on the west bluff overlooking the bridge and the approach road.

Because of faulty reconnaissance, Burnside did not know that fords were nearby where his men could have waded across the stream. Instead, the Federal plan of attack forced the advancing columns to pile into this funnel and storm across the bridge.

Soon after 9 a.m., the Federal divisions began to assault the bridge. One after another, their gallant charges were broken by deadly short-range fire from Toombs' Georgians. By noon, when the agony at the Sunken Road was reaching its highest pitch, and despite repeated orders from McClellan to get across Antietam Creek at all costs, the bottleneck at the bridge was still unbroken.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Isaac Rodman's Union division had moved slowly downstream from the bridge in search of a crossing. Rounding a sharp bend in the creek, nearly a mile south, scouts came upon shallow water at Snavely's Ford. Late in the morning Rodman crossed the stream and began to drive against the right flank of the Georgians guarding the bridge. About the same time, Col. George Crook's scouts located a ford a few hundred yards above the bridge; there he sent his brigade across. Capt. Seth J. Simonds' battery was placed in position to command the bridge.

At 1 p.m., the defending Confederates saw a sudden stir across Antietam Creek. Two regiments, the 51st New York and the 51st Pennsylvania, marched swiftly out from the cover of the wooded hill and charged for the bridge. Supported now by converging artillery fire, they quickly formed into columns and were over the bridge before Confederate artillery could halt them. Soon a wide gap split the Confederate defense. Masses of Federal troops poured across the bridge while Rodman and Crook hammered the Confederate flanks. Burnside's men had gained the west bank of the creek.

But again there was fateful delay as Burnside paused to reorganize. By the time he was ready to drive the Southern defenders from the ridge in his front, 2 critical hours had passed.

Close to 3 p.m., the mighty Federal line moved slowly up the hill toward Sharpsburg, then gained momentum. "The movement of the dark column," related an observer, "with arms and banners glittering in the sun, following the double line of skirmishers, dashing forward at a trot, loading and firing alternately as they moved, was one of the most brilliant and exciting exhibitions of the day."

First brushing aside the depleted ranks in the rifle pits above the bridge, the Federals struck D. R. Jones' four lonely brigades on the hills southeast of Sharpsburg—whence every other Confederate infantry unit had been withdrawn to reinforce the line to the north. Unable to stem the massive Federal attack, Jones' men were driven back toward the town.

To halt the Federal tide, Lee shifted all available artillery south ward. By 4 p.m., however, the Federals were approaching the village itself; only a half mile lay between them and Lee's line of retreat to the Potomac. Disaster seemed at hand for Lee's decimated force.

A. P. Hill Turns the Tide

But now came a great moment in Confederate military annals. A. P. Hill's notable Light Division, having hurriedly crossed the Potomac, 3 miles away, was driving hard toward the jubilant Federals charging on Sharpsburg. Some of Hill's artillery had already arrived from Harpers Ferry with the cheering news that Hill's brigades of infantry were close by.

At Lee's urgent order, Hill had left Harpers Ferry early. Sensing the critical role they would play, urged on at sword point by their grim commander, Hill's veterans had covered the 17 miles from Harpers Ferry to the Potomac in 7 hours. Hundreds of men had fallen out, unable to keep the pace. Now, across the river, the stalwart survivors pounded on toward the sound of the guns.

Suddenly the head of Hill's column appeared on the road to the south. Hill rode up to Lee's headquarters at the Oak Grove, then quickly to D. R. Jones, whose exhausted troops formed the last defense line in front of Sharpsburg. Hill's five brigades now rushed toward the Federal flank. Confusion gripped Burnside's men as this unexpected onslaught plowed into their lines. Men broke and started to run. In moments the tide had turned. The Federal lines, sagging from the overwhelming charge of the Southerners, and with gaping holes cut by artillery, fell back across the hills to the sheltering banks of Antietam Creek.

Powerful Federal artillery continued to thunder across the hills; heavy blue columns could still be seen in overmastering strength across Antietam Creek and far to the north. But the Federal commander had called a halt.

An hour and a half after the timely arrival of A. P. Hill's division from Harpers Ferry, the battle ended. With sunset, the firing died away. That night, the tired men lay on their arms in line of battle. Neither side would admit defeat; neither could claim the victory.

Antietam Cemetery

Taken from the Antietam National Battlefield Web Site

“The Battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg, on September 17, 1862, was the tragic culmination of Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North. That one fateful day more than 23,110 men were killed, wounded, or listed as missing. Approximately 4,000 were killed, and in the days that followed, many more died of wounds or disease. The peaceful village of Sharpsburg turned into a huge hospital and burial ground extending for miles in all directions.

Burial details performed their grisly task with speed, but not great care. Graves ranged from single burials to long, shallow trenches accommodating hundreds. For example, William Roulette, whose farm still stands behind the Visitor Center today, had over 700 soldiers buried on his property. Grave markings were somewhat haphazard, from stone piles to rough-hewn crosses and wooden headboards. A few ended up in area church cemeteries. In other cases, friends or relatives removed bodies from the area for transport home. By March of 1864, no effort had been made to find a suitable final resting place for those buried in the fields surrounding Sharpsburg. Many graves had become exposed; something had to be done.

Establishing a Plan In 1864, State Senator Lewis P. Firey introduced to the Maryland Senate a plan to establish a state, or national, cemetery for the men who died in the Maryland Campaign of 1862. On March 23, 1865, the state established a burial site by purchasing 11¼ acres for $1,161.75.

The original Cemetery Commission's plan allowed for burial of soldiers from both sides. However, the rancor and bitterness over the recently completed conflict and the devastated South's inability to raise funds to join in such a venture persuaded Maryland to recant. Consequently, only Union dead are interred here. Confederate remains were re-interred in Washington Confederate Cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland; Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland; and Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Approximately 2,800 Southerners are buried in these three cemeteries, over 60% of whom are unknown.

An Arduous Task

In an effort to locate grave sites and identify the occupants, no one was of more value than two area men: Aaron Good and Joseph Gill. In the days, months, and years following the battle, these men freely gave of their time and gathered a large number of names and burial locations. The valuable service provided by these men cannot be overstated. The dead were identified by letters, receipts, diaries, photographs, marks on belts or cartridge boxes, and by interviewing relatives and survivors. Contributions totaling over $70,000 were submitted from 18 Northern states to the administrators of the Antietam National Cemetery Board. With a workforce consisting primarily of honorably discharged soldiers, the cemetery was completed by September 1867.


On September 17, 1867, on the fifth anniversary of the battle, the cemetery was ready for the dedication ceremonies. The ceremony was important enough to bring President Andrew Johnson and other dignitaries. President Johnson proclaimed, "When we look on yon battlefield, I think of the brave men who fell in the fierce struggle of battle, and who sleep silent in their graves. Yes, many of them sleep in silence and peace within this beautiful enclosure after the earnest conflict has ceased."

The Battle fought on the Sunken Road – Bloody Lane

This lane was known by the local farmer’s as “The Sunken Road” which they used to bypass Sharpsburg. It had been worn down by years of weather and traffic. It was the site of such bloody carnage that the name of the lane changed to “Bloody Lane.” It was photographed by Alexander Gardner on September 19, 1862 two days after the battle and when shown to the public in October of 1862 in New York City established a legacy of war photography that endures today. It brought the war home.

“Major General D.H. Hill was the commander of the Confederate division. He positioned all of his soldiers (about 2600 men) along this road waiting for Major General William French and his division of Union soldiers (about 5000 men) to come over the hill so they could attack. The Union soldiers did not realize that Sunken Road had six angles but was all one road. Hill knew this and hid all his men throughout these angles. When French's men came over the rise, Hill's men staggered them with a powerful volley delivered at a range on less than one hundred yards.

Soon, the troops which include famous Irish Brigade, clashed in a raging fight that lasted more than three hours. The farm road was soaked with blood as the Confederates were struck and knocked out of line, forming what seemed to be perfect rows of dead men in the road behind them. The surviving Confederate soldiers fled as the Union surged forward, stepping over the dead Confederates along the way. Determined to stop the advancing Union troops, Confederate Major Generals Hill and James Longstreet helped line up cannons along a ridge. Lee's army could have been split in half and doomed by a successful thrust against the Confederate center. The Confederates even tried a counterattack, but it was halted. The fighting along Sunken Road (Bloody Lane) finally ceased from confusion and exhaustion on both sides. Casualties, in the end, totaled to about five thousand. For nearly four hours (about 9:30 am to 1:00 pm), Union and Confederate soldiers fought a harsh, bloody battle on Sunken Road. Because of the horrific amount of blood on this road after this particular battle was over, it was nicknamed Bloody Lane. It was told that the Blood was literally "flowing like a river". This battle was one of the bloodiest battles fought at Antietam.”

Taken from

The Cornfield

"There's not much there. It's just a field, really. But people come every day, sometimes from far away, to stand and look.

They park their cars on a road that rises and dips with the rolling hills. They step out and glance around. They bow their heads to read the sign and then straighten up to stare out at the field. There's a split-rail fence and, in the distance, some farm buildings -- a white silo, a fading barn. In between there's hay -- 30 acres of tall green stalks of grass topped with tiny seeds. When the breeze picks up, the stalks begin to quiver, then shake, then sway back and forth like sea grasses caught in gentle waves.

It's beautiful to watch, hypnotic and mesmerizing, but that's not why the people stand there for so long. They're staring at the grass but they're seeing something else, something that hasn't been there for 133 years. They seldom speak. When they do, it's usually in a hush, nothing loud enough to drown out the drone of the crickets.

This field of hay is called "the Cornfield" because that's what it was at dawn on September 17, 1862. By noon, though, the corn was gone, cut to the ground by bullets and cannon shells, and the field was covered with thousands of dead or broken men. It was the bloodiest part of the bloodiest day in this country's history -- the Battle of Antietam. Nearly 23,000 Americans were killed, wounded or missing in action outside Sharpsburg, Md., that day -- nearly four times the American casualties on D-Day. When the sun set and the battle ended, the two opposing armies were still in about the same positions they'd been the previous night. Yet something was won that day, something so profound that George F. Will once called the Battle of Antietam "the second most important day in American history." July 4, 1776, gave us the Declaration of Independence. September 17, 1862, gave us the Emancipation Proclamation.”

Excerpted from an article in the Washington Post , July 30, 1995 by Peter Carlson

The Dunker Church

"The Battle of Antietam, fought September 17, 1862, was one of the bloodiest battles in the history of this nation. Yet, one of the most noted landmarks on this great field of combat is a house of worship associated with peace and love. Indeed, the Dunker Church ranks as perhaps one of the most famous churches in American military history. This historic structure began as a humble country house of worship constructed by local Dunker farmers in 1852. It was Mr. Samuel Mumma, owner of the nearby farm that bears his name, that donated land in 1851 for the Dunkers to build their church. During its early history the congregation consisted of about half a dozen-farm families from the local area.

During The Battle

On the eve of the Battle of Antietam, the members of the Dunker congregation, as well as their neighbors in the surrounding community, received a portent of things to come. That Sunday, September 14, 1862, the sound of cannons booming at the Battle of South Mountain seven miles to the east was plainly heard as the Dunkers attended church. By September 16 Confederate infantry and artillery was being positioned around the church in anticipation of the battle that was fought the next day.

During the battle of Antietam the church was the focal point of a number of Union attacks against the Confederate left flank. Most after action reports by commanders of both sides, including Union General Hooker and Confederate Stonewall Jackson, make references to the church.

At battles end the Confederates used the church as a temporary medical aid station. A sketch by well known Civil War artist Alfred Waud depicts a truce between the opposing sides being held in front of the church on September 18, in order to exchange wounded and bury the dead. At least one account states that after the battle the Union Army used the Dunker Church as an embalming station. One tradition persists that Lincoln may have visited the site during his visit to the Army of the Potomac in October 1862.

As for the old church, it was heavily battle scarred with hundreds of marks from bullets in its white washed walls. Likewise artillery had rendered serious damage to the roof and walls. By 1864 the Church was repaired, rededicated and regular services were held there until the turn of the century.

After the War

The congregation built a new church in the town of Sharpsburg. Souvenir hunters took bricks from the walls of the church and a lack of adequate maintenance weakened the old structure. In 1921 a violent storm swept through the area flattening the church.”

Excerpted from the National Park Service Antietam Battlefield information.

The land and church ruins were put up for sale and purchased by Sharpsburg resident Elmer G. Boyer. He salvaged most of the undamaged material of the building and in turn sold the property. The new property owner built a home on the foundation of the old church and in the 1930’s operated a gas station and souvenir shop on the site. This structure was removed in 1951 when the property was purchased by the Washington County Historical Society. They in turn donated the site, then just a foundation, to the National Park Service. The Church was restored for the 100th Anniversary of the Battle in 1962 on the original foundation with as much original materials as possible and now stands as a beacon of peace on the battlefield.

Sharpsburg, Maryland

Sharpsburg, founded in July 1763 by Joseph Chapline, Sr., is the oldest town in Washington County, Maryland. The Run follows one of the eight original streets of the town that had 187 lots on 300 acres. The first lots were sold in 1764. About 100 years later Sharpsburg gained fame as the location of the Battle of Antietam. From about 1832 to 1924 it was an important point on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Today it is a quiet, residential town attracting visitors interested in Colonial history, the Civil War, and the C&O Canal National Park.

The part of the Run through Sharpsburg follows the route Civil War veterans walked when they returned to the Battlefield for visits and reunions. The Run enters town at the intersection of Sharpsburg Pike (Rt. 65) and Main Street (Rt. 34) and passes three notable structures. On the northeast corner stands the Holy Trinity Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church, built 1944 after a fire destroyed an earlier building. It is the current home of the first church in Sharpsburg that was built in 1768 further east on Main Street.

On the southeast corner is one of Sharpsburg’s houses listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The stone part of the Piper House was built in the late 1700s. It was the town home of the Piper family whose home on the Battlefield was used as Confederate General James Longstreet’s headquarters.

The gas station on the southwest corner is on the site of a house reputed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. The stone labeled as a “slave block” is more probably a carriage stepping stone.

At the Public Square, sits the library and Town Hall in the building that was the International Order of Red Men Hall. Just around the corner on Mechanic Street is the famous Nutter’s Ice Cream Shop. The most famous building in town is at 100 West Main, known as the Grove House, a hotel and tavern, the in-town headquarters of General Robert E. Lee where he held a war council. Across the street at 101 West Main is the Sharpsburg Arsenal in what is probably the oldest brick building in town, built between 1791 and 1793. It has been a tavern and a funeral home.

The three churches on West Main were all used as hospitals after the Battle, and all were rebuilt because of damage sustained. Christ Reformed United Church of Christ has the famous 16th Connecticut Regiment memorial window at its front.

Just before the end of Main Street, the Run passes a small park-like area on the right, the site of General Lee’s tent headquarters. As the road curves toward Shepherdstown, the Run passes the train station, now a museum and home for a model train group, close to the original site of the station that brought Civil War veterans to town to walk down the avenue shaded by Norway maples. Those trees no longer stand; new trees have taken their place, and new visitors travel the old route.

Vernell Doyle – Antietam Guest House, member of the Washington’s Way West Heritage Alliance.

Ferry Hill Plantation

- Childhood Home of Henry Kyd Douglas

Ferry Hill Plantation stood on the bluffs above the canal across the Potomac from Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

The river crossing at Packhorse Ford, located about a mile downstream from Shepherdstown, could not meet the needs of a growing population. Thomas Van Swearingen began operating a ferry in 1765. This location provided easy access to towns on both sides of the river including Charles Town and Harpers Ferry, VA and Hagerstown, Frederick and Baltimore, MD. In 1775 Van Swearingen had constructed a "Ferry Inn" at the landing on the Maryland side of the river. The community that grew as a result of the ferry became known as Bridgeport.

John Blackford acquired interest in the ferry and adjoining acres through an inheritance from the Van Swearingen family when he married Sara van Swearingen in 1812. Looking for an ideal location to build a home and start his family he decided to build the house high on the bluff overlooking the Potomac River. The land was fertile, and the nearby river, with a convenient ferry crossing, would facilitate delivery of his crops to market. Eventually the farm would grow to over 700 acres.

In 1833 Blackford sold 41 acres, 3 rods, 1 perch (5 1/2 yards) to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. John Blackford continued to operate the ferry, however, now the canal would also be utilized to transport goods.

As transportation needs grew the ferry was proving inadequate. Franklin Blackford sold the ferry and surrounding property to the Virginia and Maryland Bridge Company and by 1850 a toll bridge was constructed.

It was its location that drew attention to Ferry Hill Place again in 1861. Henry Kyd Douglas lived there with his parents, the Reverend Robert Douglas and his wife Helena. When war broke out Henry enlisted in the Army of the Confederacy. The Federal Army looked upon the family with mistrust. The family was held under house arrest for most of the war. They were instructed to keep the shutters closed. One stormy evening a shutter was blown open. The Union Officers saw this as an act of treason, implying the Reverend was signaling to the Confederates across the river. Reverend Douglas was arrested as a spy. Although he was never formally charged, he was held at Fort McHenry for several months before being allowed to go home.

The property passed on to Nannie Cowen, a daughter of John and Helena, who with her husband ran a pig farm from 1914 through 1928. Times were hard but the Beckenbaughs continued to struggle on. They opened a restaurant in 1948. Even after they sold the property it remained a restaurant until 1974

The link with John Blackford was severed in 1951 when the house was sold to Frederick Morrison. It provided a perfect location for a restaurant. Many students from Shepherd College recall enjoying an evening of dining and dancing at Ferry Hill. It was during this period that extensive changes were made to the house. The imposing columns facing the river were added. The wall separating the kitchen from the dining room, and the servant's staircase were removed. An addition was added to the back of the main house and many of the out buildings were torn down.

Because of its location along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, it served as the Headquarters of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park from 1979 until 2001.

Historic Ferry Hill Place still stands in an idyllic location proudly overlooking the Potomac River, waiting for the next stage of its life to begin.


Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County
The Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County Cultural Links Page will put you in touch immediately with the richness and variety of the cultural like of the county.
Antietam Museum Store
Welcome to the on-line Antietam Museum Store. We are operated by the Western Maryland Interpretive Association (WMIA), a not-for-profit cooperating association of Antietam and Monocacy National Battlefields. WMIA offers a wide variety of publications, maps, and theme-related merchandise to enhance your understanding, appreciation, and knowledge of the battles of Antietam and Monocacy. All purchases benefit interpretive, educational, and visitor service programs at both sites.
Antietam National Battlefield
The Bloodiest One Day Battle in American History - 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg, ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia’s first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln’s issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Antietam National Battlefield is located in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Open Daily. Entrance Fee. Phone (301) 432-5124
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is more than 2,175-mile long footpath stretching through 14 eastern states from Maine to Georgia. Conceived in 1921 and first completed in 1937, it traverses the wild, scenic, wooded, pastoral, and culturally significant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a unit of the National Park Service and is protected in partnership with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The A.T. is a hiking trail, enjoyed by an estimated 4 million people each year. It is within a day's drive of 2/3rds of the U.S. population. People of all ages and abilities enjoy short walks, day hikes, and long-distance backpacking journeys. It offers a variety of opportunities for viewing spectacular scenery, for exploring, for adventure, for exercise, for nature study, and for renewal.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is the volunteer-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and management of the A.T. and its associated lands - a 250,000 acre greenway from Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia providing primitive outdoor-recreation and educational opportunities for Trail visitors. ATC headquarters is located an Washington Street in Harpers Ferry, WV.
C & O Canal Association
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was one of the few people at the time who realized the historical, cultural, geological and botanical significance of the C&O Canal. He challenged opinion-shapers of his day to walk the length of the 184 mile C&O with him and decide for themselves if it should be destroyed. They took the walk in 1954 and then joined him in the effort to save the canal. That effort resulted in the formation of the C&O Canal Association, and, 17 years later, in the passage of legislation that created the C&O Canal National Historic Park, now one of the major areas in the National Park System. In the mid 1970's, the canal and towpath were dedicated to Justice Douglas to honor him for his singular contribution to the nation's park system. The C&O Canal Association works to protect, preserve and promote the assets of the C&O Canal Historical Park. The C&O Canal Association is a citizens’ association concerned with the conservation of the natural and historical environment of the C&O Canal and the Potomac River Basin. The Association supports the National Park Service in its efforts to preserve and promote the 184-mile towpath and the open spaces within the C&O Canal NHP. Membership is open to all.
C & O Canal Trust
The C&O Canal Trust is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to work in partnership with the National Park Service to protect, restore, and promote the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The Trust seeks to ensure that the park’s natural, historical, and recreational potential is fully realized. The C&O Canal Trust believes that bold thinking and fresh ideas are needed if the canal is going to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Given the unique characteristics of the park, the Trust will achieve its mission is by aggressively pursuing the following goals: reestablishing and preserving the continuity of the towpath; creating locally-appropriate destinations throughout the park by; rehabilitating historic structures, including locks, re-watering select sections of the canal, providing and accommodating passenger boat access, expanding recreational access and amenities; developing and delivering high quality educational, interpretive, and volunteer programs; restoring the ecological health of the park; and building a broad constituency to be a voice for the park for years to come.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Today’s superhighway construction, sprawling towns, and fast inland transport make it hard to appreciate what impact the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal had on isolated rural and village folk from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland, in the mid-1800s. Penetrating 185 miles inland, the C & O Canal was one of the Nation’s most ambitious industrial experiments of the time. The National Park Service operates visitor centers at Georgetown, Great Falls, Brunswick, Williamsport, Hancock, and Cumberland. For more information call 301.739.4200.
Civil War Preservation Trust
The Civil War Preservation Trust is America's largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it. The Civil War Preservation Trust has worked to save more than 25,000 acres of battlefield land in 19 different states. In addition to preserving Civil War battlefield land, CWPT conducts programs designed to inform the public about the events and consequences of the Civil War, foster an understanding of the need for preservation, and create a personal connection to the past.
Friends of Happy Retreat
Happy Retreat is the home built by Charles Washington, founder of Charles Town, West Virginia, and President George Washington’s youngest brother. Located on the edge of historic Charles Town, the property includes the 18th Century mansion, a stone and brick kitchen/storehouse, an old octagonal wooden school house and 12 acres of woods and lawns.

Located in the rapidly growing Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia – just 55 miles northwest of Washington D.C. - the property is vulnerable to development. Its owners are interested in selling the historic estate and wish to ensure that Happy Retreat be preserved in its entirety for the enjoyment of future generations.

Recognizing the threat to this historic property, a group of local preservation-minded citizens has formed the Friends of Happy Retreat, Inc. (FOHR), a non-profit organization dedicated to acquiring, preserving and utilizing the property for public benefit. A purchase option has been signed by the current owners and FOHR which should allow us sufficient time to raise the funds necessary to acquire the property.
Harpers Ferry Historical Association
The Harpers Ferry Historical Association is one of 65 cooperating associations serving the National Park Service. Established in 1971, this not-for-profit association has provided over $1 million to enhance the interpretive and education programs of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the National Park Service.

The association has helped fund park public education programs, living history events, Artists-in-Residence, media for curriculum-based learning, publications, and visitor information assistance. These donations enhance the visitor experience at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
A visit to this quaint, historic community, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, is like stepping into the past. Stroll the picturesque streets, visit exhibits and museums, or hike trails and battlefields. There's a wide variety of experiences for visitors of all ages, so come and discover Harpers Ferry. Open daily. Entrance fee. 304.535.6029
Harpers Ferry Town Foundation
The Harpers Ferry Historic Town Foundation is a non-profit organization focusing on preservation and beautification of the Town of Harpers Ferry - “A Town that inspires citizens and visitors with its history, beauty, and hospitality.” Preservation of a 19th Century village in the 21st Century takes vision, cooperation, hard work and substantial financial resources. The Foundation works in concert with local government, the National Park Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, individuals and corporate partners to accomplish its goals.
Heart of the Civil War
Welcome to the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (HCWHA) in Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland. HCWHA is a certified Maryland Heritage Area, and a partner in the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. With one foot in the north, and one foot in the south, the story of the Civil War, its causes, battles, heroes and villains...its very meaning can be told nowhere better than in this part of Maryland.

HCWHA is ideally positioned to serve as your "base camp" for driving the popular Civil War Trails and visiting the battlefields and sites of Antietam, Gettysburg, Monocacy, South Mountain, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. This is an exciting time as we look ahead to the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War starting in 2009 with events commemorating the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, including aspects of the incident that occurred in Maryland. Start planning your visits now - request a travel packet that will include all you need to experience "the heart of it all" in Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties.
Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce works to provide services and programs for businesses of any size in Jefferson County. Phone (304) 725-2055
John Brown Raid
Four states and four counties have begun preparations to commemorate the 2009 Sesquicentennial Anniversary of abolitionist John Brown's raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry. The John Brown 150th Anniversary Quad-State Committee, comprised of various historians and officials from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland, are planning and coordinating a range of commemoration events. Officials responsible for organizing the commemorations say that events will include re-enactments, dramatic productions, art exhibits, academic lectures, special tours and much more
Journey Through Hallowed Ground
In this National Heritage Area, there are more than 10,000 Listings on the National Register of Historic Places, including 9 presidents’ homes, 20 historic Main Street communities, 13 National Parks, and hundreds of African and Native American historical sites. Sites from the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, plus dozens of scenic roads, rivers and breathtaking landscapes, too! The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising national awareness of the unparalleled history in the region, which generally follows the Old Carolina Road (Rt. 15/231) from Gettysburg, through Maryland, to Monticello in Albemarle County, VA. From its communities, farms, businesses and heritage sites, we have an opportunity to celebrate and preserve this vital fabric of America which stands today in the historic, scenic and natural beauty of this region. Phone (540) 882-4929
Harpers Ferry KOA
Harpers Ferry KOA Campground in West Virginia is the perfect place for Washington, D.C., camping and Harpers Ferry National Park camping. Located in a quiet, wooded setting in historical Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the Harpers Ferry KOA campground offers a variety of activities for the adventurous vacationer and Civil War enthusiast. It's a perfect base camp for Washington DC sightseeing and major Civil War battlefields visits. Or spend your camping vacation enjoying the scenic wonders while biking the C&O Canal, hiking the Appalachian Trail or rafting on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. They are all near the Harpers Ferry KOA Campground. Open all year for kampers to enjoy our rustic kamping kabins, rv sites or to pitch a tent next to an authentic Civil War Trench. Phone 1-304-535-6895
National Park Foundation
The mission of the National Park Foundation is to strengthen the enduring connection between the American people and their national parks. The Foundation accomplishes its mission by making strategic grants, creating innovative partnerships and establishing special funds that enhance the national parks. Working closely with the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation makes grants that establish and enrich the connection that our children, our communities and all Americans have with their national parks. The National Park Foundation is the only organization engaged in national grant making to support parks through programs and projects that meet the priorities and critical needs across our National Park System. Phone (202) 354-6460
National Park Trust
NPT’s mission is to provide important recreational and educational parkland opportunities for current and future generations. As we spend more time indoors and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature we need to build greater awareness and appreciation for the importance of our country’s public lands and parks.

Our vision is that “everyone will have an American park experience”. To achieve this we seek to champion the acquisition and preservation of critical national, state and local parklands and to build a greater awareness through education -- focusing on our youth, especially those that are underserved and at-risk.
National Parks and Conservation Association
The mission of the NPCA is to protect and enhance America’s National Parks for present and future generations. The NCPA does this through restoring our National Parks, assessing park health, improving park management, and engaging park supporters. Phone 202.223.6722
NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program
The Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, also known as the Rivers & Trails Program or RTCA, is the community assistance arm of the National Park Service. RTCA staff provides technical assistance to communities so they can conserve rivers, preserve open space, and develop trails and greenways. Phone 202-354-6900
Potomac National Heritage Trail
The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail is a partnership to develop a network of locally-managed trails in a corridor between the mouth of the Potomac River and the Allegheny Highlands. As of autumn 2008, 830 miles of existing and planned trails have been recognized as segments of the National Scenic Trail.
Shepherd University
Shepherd University is a state-supported institution within the West Virginia system of higher education. From its beginnings over 130 years ago, the University has evolved into a comprehensive center of higher learning, serving a number of related, yet distinct roles: The University offers baccalaureate degrees in a wide range of fields, encompassing the liberal arts, business administration, teacher education, the social and natural sciences, and other career-oriented areas.

The University provides credit courses for individuals that may not be seeking a specific degree, but who seek to broaden and update their knowledge in either familiar or new fields of intellectual endeavor.

For the northern Shenandoah Valley region as a whole, the University is a center for noncredit continuing education, public service, and convenient citizen access to extensive programs in art, music, theater, athletics, and other areas of public interest. Shepherd University has a responsibility to extend its resources beyond the campus, bringing higher education closer to those who seek it. Phone 304-876-5000
Shepherdstown Visitor Center
Historic Shepherdstown, the oldest town in the state of West Virginia, nestled in the lower Shenandoah Valley - is only 90 minutes from the Washington/Baltimore metropolitan areas but miles away from the stress and rushed lifestyle of the city. Stroll along German Street, filled with more than a dozen fine dining and casual restaurants, unique locally-owned shops offering everything from baby clothes to local arts and crafts, and an independent movie theater. You're sure to find the perfect spot to stay, eat and shop here - all uniquely Shepherdstown.
The Kennedy Farmhouse
Dr. Robert F. Kennedy purchased the 194 acres of land & cottage from Antietam Iron Works in 1852. Soon after, he had the current one story-high stone foundation built and raised the one-room cottage onto it, then added a larger, two-story wing to the northeast. Kennedy died seven years later, and his farm was empty. John Brown, at the time calling himself Isaac Smith, rented the place for $35 in gold from the trustee of Kennedy's estate. He lived there while gathering troops & training his men for the abortive raid on Harpers Ferry. The Federal Government has deemed the house a National Historic Landmark- the government way of saying that this house played a significant role in the history of the United States. The old farmhouse has been completely restored with the use of federal, state and philanthropic funds under the direction of the Maryland Historical Trust at Annapolis, Maryland.
US Marine Corps Historical Company
Founded by Marine Corps veterans and historians, the USMCHC's mission goes beyond the presentation of statistics or museum displays of "artifacts", to highlight the most important commodity of the Corps, its people. We bring to the American public a definitive look at the Marine Corps throughout its history. Borrowing an educational technique first developed by the National Park Service called "living history" as one of their many educational tools, the USMCHC endeavors to take history from behind glass and put a human face on it. Their attitude is history presented "by people, to people, about people". The USMCHC goes to great lengths to maintain the high standards first set by the Marines of past eras. This pride in their work stems from a desire to honor fellow Marines of the past, and accurately pass that heritage on to Americans of today.
Virginia Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American CW
The General Assembly of Virginia created the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission in 2006 (HB 1440) to prepare for and commemorate the sesquicentennial of Virginia's participation in the American Civil War. Phone (804) 786-3591
WV Department of Tourism
Enjoy the Cultural Heritage of West Virginia - From Civil War reenactments to Appalachian music and craft festivals, travel West Virginia and enjoy some of the wonderful experiences that bring rich history to life. Phone 1-800-225-5982
WV Civil War Sites
WV Civil War Sites - Falling Waters
The Falling Waters Battlefield is north of Martinsburg WV, in Berkeley County. The Civil War Preservation Trust has placed Falling Waters, also known as Hoke’s Run, on their annual list of America’s Most Endangered Battlefields, “History Under Siege”, for the second year in a row. The Association is working to raise awareness of the battle by interpreting the battlefield.
WV Civil War Sites - Laurel Hill
WV Civil War Sites - Shepherdstown
The Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. (SBPA) is a non-profit organization, dedicated to preserving the site of the Civil War battle at Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The battle fought here on September 19 and 20, 1862, brought to an end the Army of Northern Virginia's Maryland Campaign and was a significant factor in General Robert E. Lee's decision to retreat farther into the Shenandoah Valley. The battle is of significant historical value to our nation and a valuable West Virginia Landmark. The Association intends for the site to be preserved as a park dedicated to educating the general public of its historical significance.
Washington Heritage Trail
A world of enchantment awaits you along the Washington Heritage Trail, in West Virginia’s scenic Eastern Panhandle.

Discover places where George Washington slept…the nation’s first warm springs spa…and a notorious female confederate spy.

Here, five 18th century towns and surrounding wilderness continue to be a favorite destination for family getaways and romantic weekends.

Come to visit, to play, or to stay. It’s all waiting for you to savor, just a short trip by car or grain from Washington, D.C. Baltimore, MD and Pittsburgh, PA.