Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 27, 1976 · Page 26
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 26

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 27, 1976
Page 26
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Page 26 article text (OCR)

( sir ,, ---io^.^,^w-^«^:3sqsimi^s^f n T§ - -v^, ? !'%^,^y;" : ?v^4v ? *%i'^£^^'': ; ; . : ^p-Kf ;--U/;;f || ^^te^te%a^faM^'it^ -s f:. Rebuilt, Historic Ferry Worth Visiting Sunday Gazette-Mail Charleston, West Virginia Sunday, June 27, 1976 Section C, Page 1C Photos by Leo Chabot View Down High Street Shows Confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers Many of Harpers Ferry's Historic Houses Line This Street. Text by Ann Hughey HARPERS FERRY - More a distant suburb of Washington, D.C., than a part of West Virginia, this small (pop. 572) Jefferson County community attracts more than a million visitors a year. The Bicentennial tourist boom could double that figure, some officials estimate. A 1941 guidebook described Harpers Ferry as 'war-battered and flood damaged...a relic of the thriving village that b e f o r e t h e W a r between t h e States...seemed destined to become an important industrial town.' Part of the town and surrounding countryside was made a National Historical Park in 1944. Today, the park service has restored Harpers Ferry as it was during the Civil War. Shops, like a general store and a pharmacy, include the sights, smells and sounds of the period. BEGINNING JULY 1, park service guides dressed in period costume will staff the shops as part of a living history program. A blacksmith will hand-forge hardware. Other living history 'interpreters,' as they are called by the park service, will cook, churn butter and make candles. The park service has created a tasteful and complete history lesson. And for those who like their history in lurid doses, a recreation of abolitionist John Brown's ' raid on the town'? federal armory can be found at the wax museum, a commercial operation. The tableaux, complete with bloody corpses, portray highlights of the attack which was intended to incite slaves to riot and provide them with arms 17 months before the start of the Civil War. The raiders were either killed or taken prisoner by a detachment of U.S. Marines under the command of Col. Robert E. Lee. Brown and six of his men were tried for treason, found guilty and hanged. Despite some doubt as to his sanity. Brown became an instant martyr to the abolitionist cause. A few of the tourists who visit Harpers Ferry decide it's a nice place to visit but they'd rather live there. Freddie Atkinson and. her husband, a Washington, D.C., lawyer, spent Christmas there a year and a half ago. Not long after, they paid $60,000 for a huge, Victorian white elephant with no kitchen or plumbing and a view of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers backed by the Blue Ridge Mountains. "It's heaven. There's no almost about it," said Mrs. Atkinson. "IN 30 YEARS this place has changed completely," said Harpers Ferry Mayor Bradley Nash, a native of Boston himself. "You see 100 to 180 cars parked at the railroad station now where you used to see 6 to 10." The commuter train to Washington takes an hour. A side effect is that property values have quadrupled in the last 15 years, according to Nash and other residents. "It seems whenever somebody buys a house, they're from out of town," said Mrs. Jane Cummings, who works for the town water company. "Kids that grow up here can't afford it. They have to move into the county." "There are always mixed feelings when a lot of strangers move in," said Nash. He said that new jobs created by the tourist industry and a new sewer system are also part of the changing times. Nash said that Harpers Ferry's first wave of tourism was between 1885 and 1915. Civil War veterans came in droves to visit the town which both sides occupied intermittently during the war. THE UNION JACK hanging outside the park service visitor's center serves as a reminder of the priest at St. Peter's Church, on the hill above, who managed to conduct regular services throughout the war, undisturbed by both armies, by flying the British flag. The war and devastating floods in 1870 and 1889 destroyed the town's manufacturing plants, which had grown up around the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. And as the veterans died off, the town went into decline until the arrival of the park service. "This has always been a community of fluidity," said Nash. Pleiie Turn to Page 6C. Tourists Hunt Gifts and Souvenirs Along High Street Area Businessmen Restored Many of the Buildings ^1% SMITH

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