Harpers Ferry

About a forty-five minute drive from Winchester in West Virginia, you will find the historic town of Harpers Ferry. This gorgeous little town – population 286 – is found at the meeting place of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, and it’s also where the states of West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia meet.

High Street, Harpers Ferry
High Street, Harpers Ferry

Richard’s colleague from New Zealand is staying with us while she does some work at Taura North America, so we decided to show her one of the numerous interesting places to be found in this part of the US. It was a great day to go as Harpers Ferry was all decked out for Christmas and there were Civil War displays, craft activities for children and even a visit from Mr and Mrs Claus.

The girls tried out some gingerbread from a little bakery.
The girls tried out some gingerbread from a little bakery.
And bought some candy from a shop specialising in all the famous "old school"
And bought some candy from a shop specialising in all the famous “old school” American sweets.

We wandered the streets enjoying all the historic architecture and took in the awesome views down by the river.

The Potomac river.
The Potomac river.

Throughout the town we saw people attired in dress appropriate to the Civil War era. Harpers Ferry played a vital part in the origins of the Civil War. It was home to one of only two United States armories, the other was located in Massachusetts. These two facilities  produced most of the small arms for the US Army. In October 1859, the abolitionist John Brown led a group of 21 men in a raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry and it was this raid that was a catalyst for the Civil War. Harpers Ferry went on to change hands eight times between 1861 and 1865 and after the war arms production ceased.

Civil War soldiers outside the building which became known as John Brown's Fort.
Civil War soldiers outside the building which became known as John Brown’s Fort.
Civil War era fashionista with Kiwi fashionista.
Civil War era fashionista with Kiwi fashionista.

St Peter’s Catholic Church is another site of historic importance in Harpers Ferry. The church was built in 1833 in a Gothic style which it was able to keep throughout the Civil War – it was the only church in Harpers Ferry to avoid destruction. Inside the church we listened to a beautiful choir rehearsing for a Christmas concert later in the day.

Carols ringing out inside St Peter's.
Carols ringing out inside St Peter’s.

We could have spent much more time exploring this very significant part of our new neighbourhood, but we had to get the girls back to Winchester for a birthday party. They did have time, however, to stop and have a chat with these two…

Tourists from the North Pole.
Tourists from the North Pole.

We ended our weekend at the Wayside Theatre in nearby Stephens City to watch a production of Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Christmas Story. Our neighbours’ parents were hosting a special showing of the play for their co workers and friends, and they very kindly invited us  along. Our host was a member of the US Navy and visited New Zealand in 1964 aboard the USS Bainbridge. He was thrilled to learn that a very young Richard Croad, accompanied by his father and older brothers, drove from Palmerston North to Wellington for a chance to look at and step on board the vessel. After a long wait in the queue, five year old Richard was denied his chance to go on the big boat because he was too little, and stood crying on the wharf whilst his brothers got to step aboard 😦

Talk about a small world!

We have a busy week ahead as all the Christmas festivities kick into high gear. Richard’s Christmas work do, a visit to Santa’s workshop, our neighbourhood carolling party…moving to a smaller town has certainly not dimmed the lights on our social calendar!

Take care everyone and if you are keen to see some more of Harpers Ferry, click on the link to my Flickr photos.

6 Replies to “Harpers Ferry”

  1. Loving your blog Chrissie. Sounds like you are having a fabulous time and seeing some great sights – thanks for sharing them with us. Jacqui xx

  2. Now that I know what your blogg is Auntie jenny is back on board. Fabulous to catch up on all the excitement of your new life in Winchester. Yes there is something about a small town and community. It beats big city culture any day I reckon. More about family and the beauty that surrounds us everyday that we often dont take time to appreciate. Anyway love you all and miss you soooo much..that goes without saying! Have a jingle merry time in the lead up to the big man comming down the chimney! Jen xxxxx

    1. So glad to have you with us Jenny. We must try and get you over here at Christmas time – you would just love it! Hope all is well with you. Thanks for your email last week. The girls send lots of love and kisses xxx

  3. Wow! What a lovely all around experience; I noticed the Gingerbread and the pineapple where the girls sat and recalled the books we read together. It was also funny to notice that the lady at the candy store had a ‘tablet’… LOL. I am so happy that you get the chance to enrich your cultural and historical experiences nearby your new home. I am sure it will help the girls understand better the new world they are living in and when certain topics pop up at school. Keep enjoying! 🙂

  4. What a lovely little town, talk about lessons in living history!! Notice there were no Confederate Uniforms in sight, plenty of Union Soldiers, guess that will be one stop to see when we visit. Loved the reference to John Brown us kids in Scotland were taught the “John Brown’s body lies a mouldering in his grave))(repeated 3 times) but his soul goes marching on, Glory glory Hallelujah etc.
    quite a stirring tune and we were taught how heroic he was with the organising of the slave underground railway, which coincidentally the last stop was in St. Catherine’s in Canada where Aunty Chris lived. How about Richard’s story, talk about kismet.
    Love Mum

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