Citizens and merchants of Historic Harpers Ferry, whose national park lays claim to historic 18th and 19th century events, including John Brown’s raids, are working together to keep the park open.
According to Gary DuBrueler, President of the Harpers Ferry Merchant Association, merchants and other locals are coalescing so visitors can have the memorable experience they expect and deserve. “They will also give information normally provided by Park Service employees,” DuBrueler says.“Our merchants will inform visitors of historic sites, walks for families, and places to eat…If they don’t have answers to visitors’ questions, they’ll leverage their networks and try to find someone who does.”
In addition, locals have solutions to the following challenges:
Closed: Federal parking lots and shuttle buses parking lots closed due to the shutdown, identifying and negotiating for spaces within walking distance of the historic district.
Open: Parking is still available at lots in Historic Harpers Ferry and West Virginia’s nearby visitor center as well as additional spaces locals have identified or negotiated to use – the majority within walking distance from the historic section of town.
Closed: Federally funded trails.
Open: Yes, trails large and small are open! Locals will gladly point them out, including those on the Appalachian trail and C&O path. Further, according to Executive Director/CEO Ron Tipton, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitor Center in Harpers Ferry remains open and will give visitors advice as to the many trails available to hikers. “Much of the Appalachian trail is state funded,” he says, “and open.”
Closed: Public bathrooms.
Open: Portable toilets will be available to visitors thanks to a collaborative effort on the part of the Town of Harpers Ferry, the Harpers Ferry Merchants Association, and the Harpers Ferry Historical Town Foundation.
Closed: Museum exhibits.
Open: Since many of the sites are outdoors, visitors can still explore them and the West Virginia visitors’ center is open with maps and advice. To complete the experience, merchants offer the chance for visitors to experience a wax museum depicting John Brown’s raid, ghost and historic foot tours from a local historian, a hands-on art center where visitors can create take-home memories, a Steampunk art gallery, and the nation’s only historic confectionary shop, carrying 18th and 19th century products, with free talks about each one.
To make the trip additionally memorable, some merchants are offering discounts and special deals on products, food and activities, many with local or historic themes.
Harpers Ferry lies on the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and one of the stops along the Appalachian Trail. Known for its beauty and historic relevance, it was visited by Thomas Jefferson, was the site of John Brown’s raid, and played a pronounced part in the Civil War. A short drive from Baltimore, D.C. and other hubs, it welcomes visitors from all over the world.