People outside of Northern California don’t necessarily spend time learning about the 1849 California Gold Rush, but growing up in Sacramento, you can’t help but learn about it. Not surprisingly, people who live in this region of West Virginia you can’t help but absorb a lot of Civil War knowledge. Harper’s Ferry National Park is a gem of a park and so much more interesting than so many of the Civil War battlefields I’ve been to. And this was a continuous battleground over the course of the war.
The park is located on the Appalachian Trail and preserves the place where John Brown was tried and hung. As you walk around the old part of town you can see shops preserved as they might have been during the Civil War alongside a current day bookstore and places to find food or outdoor equipment.
You can also go on hikes or walks along the rivers. I hung out in the Coffee Mill while my friend Nyasha jogged and walked over bridges and along the river. The Coffee Mill was frustrating as so much of what was listed on the menu was unavailable.
We came across re-enactors in several places. I asked the three Confederate soldiers why motivated them to volunteer as living history docents. They are self-professed History nerds.
Parking is also a challenge. I grabbed one of the last spots along the street on Potomac Street. I downloaded the National Park Service parking app and paid via PayPal. After 10 a.m. you can probably expect to use the parking lot up the hill and take the shuttle to the main part of the historic village. I found it difficult to find a way to pay the day use fee. I finally waited in line at the entrance up the hill because I want our National Parks to be around for my grandchildren.
The entrance fee is just $10 per carload or $5 per person if you walk or bicycle into the Park. This is a real bargain at Harper’s Ferry.