Monday, October 30, 2017

Last Stop in West Virginia and the Best

Our last stop in West Virginia was at Harpers Ferry.  What an exciting, beautiful town on the eastern side of West Virginia where the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet.

Harpers Ferry National Park is a 3,660 acre park located in Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia.  The town is named after Robert Harper who built a ferry to cross the Potomac River in the 1700's. 

In the distance is Harpers Ferry on the left and a railroad line crossing the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. 
Historians believe George Washington began the construction of the federal Harpers Ferry Armory utilizing water power from the rivers for manufacturing purposes.  Between 1820 and 1840 the factory worked to perfect the manufacturing of interchangeable parts at the armory.  Using precision molds and jigs, armaments could be standardized and parts would be interchangeable. The development of the modern bullet to replace round lead slug was achieved and adopted by the U.S. Army in 1855.  Employing up to 400 workers, the armory produced half a million muskets and rifles between 1801 and 1860.

Walking into Harpers Ferry.

Within 30 years this canal system was replaced by two railroads and the larger Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

During the Civil War, Harpers Ferry was under Military Law and everyone was required to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States to receive a pass from the Provost Marshal.  Provost Guards patrolled the streets and if you did not have a pass you could be arrested and tried by a military court as a spy.

Cornelia Stipes, a Harpers Ferry widow, and her three daughters ran a boarding house in this building during the Civil War.  This money kept her family from starving.

This special room was called a Sky Parlor under the slanting roof.

One of many dry good stores in Harpers Ferry.  During its heyday there were 40 separate stores in the area.


A regular wash tub.  You had to haul your water in from the local well and heat it up before you could take a bath.

A washtub for the wealthy.  They probably had someone else carry in and heat the water.

This is a chamber pot.  For the youngsters out there it was used as a toilet during the night.  In Harpers Ferry this was a very popular item because there were only 4 outhouses in the whole town.  With a population of up to 3,000, at times, it was a very necessary item.  Each day the remains in the chamber pot would be thrown out onto the main street.  Along with thousands of people walking the unpaved streets, and cattle, and horses, it became quite a health hazard.  Then the town leaders passed a law that you could no longer empty your chamber pot on the street.  What did everyone do?  They threw the contents out the back door of their homes or establishments. 

Anything you would ever need was in these stores.

Even a cherry pitter.

A luxurious hat for the wealthy entrepreneur.

In October, 1859, Abolitionist John Brown and 18 men raided the U.S. National Armory at Harpers Ferry to obtain weapons to arm enslaved African-Americans to fight for their freedom.  Soon surrounded by Virginia militia in the factory's fire engine house, he was captured by Colonel Robert E. Lee of the U.S. Army.  During his trial for treason Brown spoke against slavery, was found guilty, and hanged.   

Two months after his death, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech about Brown that launched his presidential campaign. Fear of Lincoln's election increased Southern calls for independence.  When Lincoln won, Southern states began leaving the Union to create a Confederacy and the Civil War started when South Carolina troops fired on Fort Sumter in 1861.  

The firehouse where John Brown and his men fought the Virginia militia.  The building has a curious past. Since its construction in 1848 by the U.S. Armory, it has been vandalized, dismantled, and moved four times-all because of its fame as John Brown's stronghold.  

 It escaped destruction during the Civil War (the only armory building to do so) but was vandalized by souvenir hunting troops.  In 1891, it was dismantled and transported to the Chicago Exposition.  Rescued from conversion to a stable it was brought back to the Harpers Ferry area and exhibited on a farm.  In 1909, it was purchased by Storer College and moved to campus.  And in 1968 the National Park Service moved it to within 150 feet of its original location.

There were several Civil War battles fought in this area.  In September, 1862, General Robert E. Lee launched his army into Maryland, part of the North, and Harpers Ferry became his first target. 

His troops, led by Stonewall Jackson, dragged 2,000 lb cannons up a ravine in the dark and rolled the cannons into position in an open field.

Thousands of Union soldiers huddled in ravines on Bolivar Heights to escape the Confederate shells that were fired.  After two days the North was demoralized and low on ammunition and decided to surrender.  The Confederates seized 73 cannon, 13,000 small arms, 200 wagons, and 12,500 prisoners.

Today, Harpers Ferry is just a beautiful town to visit with wonderful history and a vibrant atmosphere that combines history with the present.  There are families that still live in the town with ancestors that date back to the early days of Harpers Ferry.   
The area where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converge is called the Point.

Dogs are allowed here and Lucy and Desi got to swim in the Shenandoah River.   They even have outdoor restaurants where dogs are welcome. 

This railroad line is still in operation and you can walk on a bridge alongside the railway into the tunnel.  That walkway is part of the Appalachian Trail.

A hiker coming off the Appalachian Trail with her dog into Harpers Ferry.

St Peter's Catholic Church was completed during the early 1830's produced by an influx of Irish laborers. During the Civil War, to protect the church from the Union and Confederate shells, the priest flew the British Union Jack flag as a sign of neutrality. It was remodeled to its present appearance in 1896 and Mass is offered here every Sunday.

This building is built into the rock side.  At the top right you can see the steeple of St Peter's Catholic Church.

We saw several buildings that looked like this.  It is where the old building, now gone, butted before they stuccoed it.
In 1775, town founder Robert Harper chose this hillside for his home.  The home was completed after he died so it was left to his niece. 

The Harper Cemetery is 4 acres above the town and many of the tombstones have the names of people who lived here years ago.

This is called Jefferson Rock after Thomas Jefferson who described the view during a visit in 1783.  He said it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. 

You have to climb up and past St Peter's to get to Jefferson Rock.
The walk down is even better with the steps mainly uneven slabs of stone.

We spent two days at Harpers Ferry and didn't come close to seeing everything.  It is a place I would love to visit again and also stop at several of the surrounding towns that are filled with their own history.

We left West Virginia and drove into Luray, Virginia, so we could spend some time in the mountains.  We visited the  Shenandoah National Park on the Skyline Drive and spent three days seeing the views and hiking the pups on different sections of the Appalachian Trail.  

The leaves were just starting to change colors.
On our fourth day we found the Shenandoah River State Park which was a good deal closer to our RV site so we hiked the pups there.  The dogs especially liked this park because there were sections of the Shenandoah River they could get into to cool off. 

Desi waiting patiently for us further up on the trail.  

Our RV park was surrounded by a cattle farm and we saw lots of young cows moving around.  In the evening the calves would come over to the fence to look at all the campers. We seemed to be fascinating to them. Unfortunately, either their nightly visit or a wind change also brought the smell of manure and it was potent.  Brought tears to the eyes!!!

We also checked out downtown Luray, Virginia.

The Inn at the Shenandoah, circa 1885.

It had art shops and other neat little stores.

From Luray here we moved on to Charlottesburg and a few of our favorite wineries. 
Had to share this picture of a pup we saw in one of the wineries.  Check out the eyelashes. 

The owners said the eyelashes get so long they have to have them trimmed.  BTW, it's a male dog and his name is Jackson!

And our final stop was in Richmond to see our daughter, Lynn, and her family.

Madeleine had a soccer game and scored two points.

While Anthony, Dane, and Grandpa played football.
Daughter, Lynn, loves to decorate and she really does a great job.

And then we headed for home and some relaxation time.  Well that lasted about a day and then the Captain decided we should clear some trees on our land. The first tree was dead but it was big.  About 100 feet tall and very large.  As the Captain cut the tree it twisted  a little bit and fell into another large tree and got stuck in the upper limbs.  We had planned on taking down the second tree but not in that fashion.  After a few additional cuts here and there, and the Captain moving gingerly a few times, the tree finally hit the ground.

Our good neighbor, Gary Davis, came over to help.

Here's a riddle:  What's worse than a Stihl chain saw getting stuck in a tree?   Two getting stuck in the tree.

The guys worked and worked on the tree to free the saws.  The wood was so dense it didn't want to let go.

The pups stayed far out of the way.

Finally, after using a four-wheel drive truck with a cable, they were able to free one of the chain saws.

Then they started working on the second one.

Hooray!  They got them both free.  That wore everyone out so the final cutting was moved to the next day. 

Men at work!

Since our grandson, Lee, was available we recruited him, too.  He was a great help because the wood was very heavy.

That's it from here everyone.  Hope you all have a wonderful fall season and enjoy the coming holidays.  We will be staying home until early January and then we're off to southern Texas again.  Peace! 

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