Over Father Day weekend, I was invited to go to Harpers Ferry with My friend Chad his wife Michelle, and their three kids, Cayden, Mason, and Maya. I met Chad at his house in Albright, West Virginia, on Thursday, where we had a campfire that night and talked about our trip and building an Inipi that he had started at the top of his hill in a sacred location.
The following day we packed up and headed to Harpers Ferry, Chad would take his RV, and I would follow him in my truck. The trip down is beautiful as you pass through the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Gap in Maryland. The trip took about three hours and went by fast as we arrived in the area and drove through many small towns and passed many historical battlefields, including Antietam National Battlefield
Antietam National Battlefield is a National Park-protected area along Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Washington County, northwestern Maryland. It commemorates the American Civil War Battle of Antietam that occurred on September 17, 1862.
The area, situated on fields among the Appalachian foothills near the Potomac River, features the battlefield site and visitor center, a national military cemetery, stone arch Burnside’s Bridge, and a field hospital museum.
In the Battle of Antietam, General Robert E. Lee‘s first invasion of the North ended on this battlefield in 1862. Established as Antietam National Battlefield Site on August 30, 1890, the park was transferred from the War Department on August 10, 1933, and re-designated November 10, 1978. Along with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the battlefield was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. Additional documentation on the site was recorded by the National Park Service on February 27, 2009.
Arriving in Harpers Ferry was chaotic because there were so many people, and we had to check in at River Riders Outpost to claim the campsite. After Checking in, we had to drive the long way around because the RV could not fit under a bridge which turned a 5-minute drive into a 15-minute drive. The campground itself was nice and sat along the Shenandoah River. We had a lovely spot, but the River Riders campground was poorly organized. While driving down, I also noticed that we encountered many locusts, and I enjoyed looking at them; their sound does not bother me and I kind of enjoy it. We were told we could not put a tent on our site, and since the RV was already full, I decided to get a hotel room which was only a short five-minute drive under the bridge that the RV could not fit under.
That night we discovered that the train tracks were less than 25 yards from the campground and the trains ran all night long. So I would suggest if you are a light sleeper, to request a spot further from the tracks. The next day we hung out at the campground and enjoyed the scenery. We also walked a nice trail along the Shenandoah River, about a three-mile hike into Harpers Ferry.
Harpers Ferry has a population of 286 during the 2010 census, and is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States, in the lower Shenandoah Valley. (Until 1863, it was in Virginia.) It is situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, where the U.S. states of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet. It is the easternmost town in West Virginia and during the Civil War was the northernmost point of Confederate-controlled territory. It has been called, speaking of the Civil War, “the best strategic point in the whole South”.
The town was formerly spelled Harper’s Ferry with an apostrophe—in the 18th century, it was the site of a ferry service owned and operated by Robert Harper. According to the U.S. Postal Service, the apostrophe is no longer used.
By far the most important event in the town’s history was John Brown’s raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory, in 1859.
John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was an American abolitionist leader. A man of religious conviction, Brown believed he was “an instrument of God”, raised up to strike the death blow to American slavery, a “sacred obligation”. Brown felt that violence was necessary to end American slavery, since peaceful efforts had failed. Brown said repeatedly that in working to free the enslaved he was following the Golden Rule, as well as the U.S. Declaration of Independence which states that “all men are created equal”.
Once in town, we stopped at a local hiking shop to get Mason a pair of shoes since his shoes were causing blisters. The town was full of tourists, locals, adventurers, and many people hiking the Appalachian Trail. After getting Mason a pair of shoes, we headed to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. Another good thing about Harpers Ferry is they are very dog friendly, and dogs are welcome in most places, and since Chad brought his dog Rory, it was nice that he could tag along. After eating, we walked to the bridge where Appalachian hikers crossed to come into town and walked a little of the Appalachian trail ourselves. Chad and I plan to do a more strenuous section sometime this summer after getting the Inipi built. The views from the bridge and trail are unique, and it was really great seeing all the different people walking about and enjoying themselves.
After hiking a bit, we headed back to town. We visited some of the local shops that maintained the atmosphere of the 1800s, including a Candy shop where they were giving away candy to people who answered West Virginia trivia questions correctly. Although not really fair since we are from West Virginia, Michelle and I answered trivia correctly and were given candy samples. After leaving the Candy shop, we walked around a little longer and enquired about the Ghost tours, which we were interested in doing the following evening. After Chad buying us some bubble tea, which I had never tried before and I have to say it is quite tasty, we headed back on the trail toward the campsite.
Once back at the campsite, we relaxed and built a campfire. We enjoyed each other’s company and even made some s’mores. I stayed a while longer until everyone was tired, and I headed to sleep.
The next day was Father’s Day, and we hung out at the campsite until it was time to head into Harpers Ferry to enjoy the town and take the Harpers Ferry Ghost Tour.
When we arrived in Harpers Ferry, it was difficult to find parking, and I panicked a little, but we found a spot just in time to make the Ghost Tour. The guide, Rick was amicable and did a great job explaining the evenings’ events and rules. The tour is a ‘Family and Dog Friendly” Spooky Stories experience appropriate for all ages. They do not attempt to contact, talk to, or hunt any ghostly spirits. However, they do allow and encourage picture taking but no video!
The tour itself is approximately two hours in length and takes you around 14 blocks of the historic “Lower Town” section of Harpers Ferry. We went to view several sites and buildings that have had ghostly phenomena reported in, or around them, over the years, along with some of the most critical “Historical Highlights” of Harpers Ferry’s multi-level, multi-faceted, and dimensional history.
As we walked around Harpers Ferry and stopped at various locations, we were told tales about the unexplained and ghostly phenomenon that has, or is still occurring, as well as stories of legends and/or historical events, which may account for such unexplained supernatural happenings and encounters. With Harpers Ferry’s violent past, especially during the American Civil War, many stories would tell of death during that time. Some background history and historical highlights of Harpers Ferry were also an element of the tour. Overall it was a good experience, and we all enjoyed the spooky stories, history, and entertainment. I did catch some great pictures and a few ghostly images. For more information, visit:
The following day returned home, but Chad and his family stayed and enjoyed Harpers Ferry for another day. I had a great time visiting Harpers Ferry, and I would recommend that anyone take a long weekend and visit this historic and unique town.