Harpers Ferry

August 15, 1906: Niagara Movement Meets in Harpers Ferry

Aug 15, 2018
The leaders of the Niagra Movement chose Harpers Ferry for its first public meeting in honor of abolitionist John Brown, who’d led an ill-fated raid on the town’s armory in 1859.
E-WV

The Niagara Movement—an important civil rights group—held its first public meeting at Harpers Ferry’s Storer College on August 15, 1906.

  

The movement emerged from increasing philosophical differences between Booker T. Washington—the most powerful black leader of his day—and more radical intellectuals.

While Washington wanted to work more closely with the white community to improve African-Americans’ economic status, his critics—led by W. E. B. DuBois, William Monroe Trotter, and others—urged a more militant approach.

E-WV / West Virginia Humanities Council

On May 3, 1924, a devastating flood at Harpers Ferry wiped out a highway bridge and permanently shut down the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

April 18, 1861: Federal Soldiers Set Fire to Harpers Ferry Armory

Apr 18, 2018
David Hunter Strother / Library of Congress

On April 18, 1861, U.S. Army regular soldiers and volunteers set fire to the U.S. Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. 

The day before, Virginia politicians had voted to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. Confederates quickly targeted the Harpers Ferry Armory and Arsenal for its stockpile of guns. On April 18, 360 Virginia militiamen began a 10-mile march from Charles Town to seize the Armory.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Hundreds of West Virginians travel from the Eastern Panhandle to Maryland or Washington D.C. every weekday for work. These commuters catch the Maryland-based MARC train, or Maryland Area Regional Commuter.

But during this year’s West Virginia Legislative session, lawmakers debated the future of the MARC train in the state.

Maryland threatened to discontinue MARC service to West Virginia unless certain provisions were met.

Storer College, Stephen Mather Training Center, Harpers Ferry
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This year marks 150 years since Storer College was established in Harpers Ferry. The school came out of the Civil War first as a place to teach former slaves how to read and write, and then by the 1930s, it had evolved into a four-year, higher education institution for African-Americans. But in 1955, it closed due to lack of funding. Still, the legacy of Storer College continues to be celebrated each year in the Eastern Panhandle.

October 16, 1942: Devastating Flood Strikes Harpers Ferry

Oct 16, 2017
Harpers Ferry nestles between two rivers
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Roger Spencer

A devastating flood struck Harpers Ferry on October 16, 1942. Ironically, it occurred on the 83rd anniversary of John Brown’s raid—the event that forever put Harpers Ferry in the history books.

The town’s early history was tied to water. In the 1740s, settler Robert Harper established a ferry there, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, giving the town its name. Then, based on a recommendation from George Washington, one of the nation’s two government armories and arsenals was built at Harpers Ferry.

October 2, 1867: Foundation of Storer College in Harpers Ferry

Oct 2, 2017
Storer College
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

On October 2, 1867, Storer College was founded in Harpers Ferry. It was established by the Freewill Baptist Church two years after the Civil War to educate freed slaves in the Shenandoah Valley.

Storer was integrated and coeducational from the start. Before present West Virginia State University was established in 1891, Storer was the only college open to African-Americans in West Virginia. Frederick Douglass served on Storer’s board of trustees and spoke on campus in 1881.

Battle of Harpers Ferry
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On September 14, 1862, Confederate artillery launched the opening barrage in the Battle of Harpers Ferry, initiating perhaps the most important Civil War conflict in present West Virginia.

Harpers Ferry was key to Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee’s strategy in invading Maryland. Union forces stationed at Harpers Ferry stood in the way of Lee’s supply line. Lee dispatched “Stonewall” Jackson to capture Martinsburg, which fell without a shot, and then take Harpers Ferry.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the small town of Harpers Ferry in the Eastern Panhandle is often referred to as a gateway into West Virginia. It was a prominent place during the American Civil War-- the site of John Brown’s Raid. Today, it’s home to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park as well as nearly 300 residents.

The park, along with the commercial area of the town, sees thousands of visitors each year from around the country and all over the world. In June, Harpers Ferry elected a new mayor –Wayne Bishop. Liz McCormick sat down with Bishop to hear how he plans to lead the iconic West Virginia town.

Harpers Ferry, Bolivar
Mark Frickett / Wikimedia Commons

The small town of Harpers Ferry in the Eastern Panhandle is often referred to as a gateway into West Virginia. It was a prominent place during the American Civil War, and it was the site of John Brown’s Raid.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park played host to a naturalization ceremony Tuesday morning for 19 new U.S. citizens.

This Week in West Virginia History.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

Bishop Matthew Wesley Clair Sr. died in Covington, Kentucky, on June 28, 1943, at age 77. He was born in Monroe County to former slaves just months after the Civil War ended.

His family moved to Charleston, where Clair joined Simpson Methodist Episcopal Church. He graduated from college in 1889 and began a four-stint leading the Methodist Episcopal Church in Harpers Ferry.

John Btrown
John Bowles / Public Domain

On May 24, 1856, John Brown and his followers killed five slaveholders at Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas—a prelude to his more ambitious raid on Harpers Ferry three years later. Deeply religious, Brown committed himself in the 1850s to abolishing slavery through violent action. He took an Old Testament view of his cause, believing that the great sin of human bondage had to be purged from the land by the shedding of blood.

Medals, Medallions, Harpers Ferry
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

There’s a group based in Jefferson County, West Virginia focused not only on improving health and wellness but also on incorporating the local community and history into that health experience.

E-WV / West Virginia Humanities Council

On May 3, 1924, a devastating flood at Harpers Ferry wiped out a highway bridge and permanently shut down the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

Harpers Ferry was the site of the US Armory, and played a vital role before and during the Civil War.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Harpers Ferry, John Brown, US Armory, Robert E. Lee, Civil War

The mayor of Harpers Ferry says the Eastern Panhandle community has brought in $60,000 over six months from the implementation of a city sales and use tax after being granted home rule status.

The Journal reports Harpers Ferry Mayor Gregory Vaughn says the 1 percent sales tax has been "a tremendous benefit" in the town of about 290 residents.

Bishop John Joseph Kain served as bishop of the Wheeling Diocese, and Archbishop of St. Louis.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / John Joseph Kain, Martinsburg, Wheeling, Diocese of Wheeling, St. Louis, Civil War, Harpers Ferry

Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph Kain died on October 13, 1903, at the age of 62. In the late 1800s, he was the driving force behind the growth of the Catholic church in West Virginia.

Kain was ordained as a priest in 1866. His first pastoral assignment was in his native town of Martinsburg. His missions ranged from nearby Harpers Ferry to Leesburg, Virginia. During his seven years in this position, he helped rebuild communities that had been ravaged by the Civil War.

E Willis Windy Wilson
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

West Virginia governor E. Willis Wilson was born at Harpers Ferry on August 11, 1844. The Democrat was elected to the state House of Delegates in 1869 and to the senate three years later.

After moving to Charleston in 1874, he again served in the House and became speaker in 1880.

Founding members of the Niagara Movement.
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

The Niagara Movement—an important civil rights group—held its first public meeting at Harpers Ferry’s Storer College on August 15, 1906.

The movement emerged from increasing philosophical differences between Booker T. Washington—the most powerful black leader of his day—and more radical intellectuals.

While Washington wanted to work more closely with the white community to improve African-Americans’ economic status, his critics—led by W. E. B. DuBois, William Monroe Trotter, and others—urged a more militant approach.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Saturday marks one-year since a fire devastated four buildings in the commercial district of historic Harpers Ferry – two of those buildings were built before the Civil War. Eight shops and two apartments were lost, and by the time the fire was put out nearly eight hours after it began, it left behind almost $2 million in damages.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

By now, you may have heard of a new app for smartphones called Pokémon GO. It was released in the United States on July 6 and has taken the country by storm – including West Virginia. There’s a feature in the game that encourages you to visit historic, unique, or touristy spots in the real world, and West Virginia Public Broadcasting has been exploring the interest in this widely popular game.

Harpers Ferry Celebrated on New U.S. Coin

Jun 9, 2016
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, one of the measures the legislature failed to act on before recessing its special session was the governor’s bill to provide over two million dollars to Boone County schools.  Ashton Marra has that story.  And the U.S. Mint has unveiled a new quarter honoring Harpers Ferry. 

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This year marks the Centennial Celebration of the National Park Service – 100 years since the system was created. But 2016 is also special for another reason – it marks the release of a new quarter honoring one of West Virginia's best known National Parks.

Hundreds of people gathered in Harpers Ferry for the official launch of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program honoring Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

W. Va. Not Considered a Bike Friendly State

Apr 18, 2016

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra reports on Saturday's Democratic Gubernatorial Forum and Appalachian Health News reporter Kara Lofton reports from the West Virginia Bike Summit.  These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting - Telling West Virginia's story.

Harpers Ferry, Harpers Ferry Fire, Fire
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Harpers Ferry is moving right-along in its rebuilding process since a fire devastated four historic buildings last July.

We last heard on the status of the Harpers Ferry rebuilding process back in December. Now, as we begin approaching summer and the one year mark since the fire, the town is getting closer and closer to being restored.

Solar panels arriving in Fayette County
Colleen Laffey

An outdoor adventure company is opening what state officials say is the first solar-powered hotel in West Virginia.

A ribbon cutting is planned Wednesday at the renovated Quality Inn in Harpers Ferry. The event is open to the public.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Every year, dozens of people in Harpers Ferry go back in time. In the shops and at the national park, it's 1864 all over again. It's fun for locals and visitors to see how people in Victorian-era West Virginia celebrated Christmas. But it's also a reminder of how bittersweet it can be for people to try to find a bit of good cheer in the midst of a long and terrible war.

 

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

It’s been four and a half months since a fire broke out in Harpers Ferry that devastated its historic commercial district and caused millions of dollars in damages. Residents and nearby fire departments swarmed the town’s streets in the early hours of the morning to do what they could to contain the fire. Nearly eight hours later, the fire was put out but left behind the wood and stone frames of four buildings, some which were built before the Civil War.

Since that day, the town of Harpers Ferry has moved quickly toward recovery and is getting close to rebuilding. West Virginia Public Broadcasting has been following this story since the fire; here's a look at how things are going now as 2015 comes to a close.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Harpers Ferry’s commercial district is recovering faster than expected after a devastating fire caused millions of dollars in damages.

Demolition began about two weeks ago on the four buildings in Harpers Ferry’s commercial district. The buildings housed nine businesses. Debris is being moved by hand to protect what’s left of the historic structures.

December 2, 1859: John Brown Hanged For Raid on Harper's Ferry

Dec 2, 2015
John Brown
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On December 2, 1859, abolitionist John Brown was hanged in Charles Town for treason for his raid on the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry six weeks earlier. While Brown’s raid had failed miserably, his capture and hanging had a much greater impact on national events. Brown’s actions set off shockwaves across the country. In the North, many hailed him as a hero. In the South, he was viewed as a villain and a true reflection of the North’s intended war on slavery.

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