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