Harper’s Ferry Photo Project

My newest photography project is focused on Harper’s Ferry, WV. Since I was a kid I have loved that small historic town. The plan is to capture different aspects of the town and surrounding landscape and to touch on some of its history.

Much of the historical information I am providing is taken from a wonderful book that I purchased at the National Park Service Visitor’s Center in Harper’s Ferry.  The book is titled, A Walker’s Guide To Harper’s Ferry West Virginia, and was written by David T. Gilbert.  

Day 4 - This morning I ventured to Maryland Height’s, which is positioned across the river from Harper’s Ferry.  The overlook provides for a spectacular view of the town of Harper’s Ferry, the Shenandoah River (left) and the Potomac River (right), the point at which the two rivers merge, Loudoun Heights (left), and the bridges, both modern and those in ruins, which have or continue to service Harper’s Ferry.  


After taking in this vista, I made my way along the trail leading to the Stone Fort and the gun emplacements that were positioned along Maryland Height’s  during the fall of 1862 and the summer of 1863.  They were positioned here in an effort to defend against Confederate advancement into Maryland and to protect the Union forces occupying Harper’s Ferry.  One of these gun emplacements housed a 100-Pounder Battery.  As Gilbert describes in his book, “A 9-inch Dahlgren gun weighing 9,700 pounds was hauled up the mountain to this spot in June 1863.”   The gun was could fire a “100-pound shell over two miles” and had a commanding view of the area.  In August 1863 the gun would be replaced with a “100-pounder Parrott.”    The view in the 1860’s would have been more substantial due to the charcoal industry.  Much of the forest on the mountain had been cut and the wood utilized for the making of charcoal for the Antietam Iron factory.  This would have left much of the mountain clear of trees and provided for unobstructed sight lines.  This photograph provides a portion of the view from this gun emplacement.


Day 3 - Here are the ruins of the Shenandoah River Bridge that was built in 1882, that spanned the Shenandoah River. This was a wagon bridge that was built to replace the the a covered bridge that stood upstream between 1844 and 1861, when it was destroyed by “Confederate raiders.” The Shenandoah River Bridge fell into ruin after being subjected to flooding. On two occasions the bridge was destroyed by flood. Ultimately, in 1936, a flood, “which crested here at 36 1/2 feet, destroyed the bridge for good.” 

Upstream from the ruins is the modern day bridge that provides for travel across the Shenandoah River.


Day 2 -  Jefferson Rock, Harpers Ferry, WV. Jefferson rock is named after Thomas Jefferson, who stood at this point and took in the beauty of the area.  Jefferson, during a visit to Harper’s Ferry in 1783, was quoted as stating, in part, “this scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”


As I moved just beyond Jefferson Rock the view opened up and the spire of St. Peter’s Church more prominently in the scene.


Day 1 - Got out just before sunrise in an effort to capture the morning light, but the clouds had something else to say. Here is a shots of the Harper’s Ferry Train Station with the huge rock face on the Maryland side of the Potomac River in the background. Then, as luck would have it, a train passed through the station just as I was setting up my camera in the middle of the tracks. My thanks to the engineer for the warning. Gave me a chance to get to the side and capture the train as it passed.

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