Harpers Ferry: A great day trip - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Harpers Ferry: A great day trip

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is 70 miles from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor but might as well be on another continent.


Confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers

Baltimoreans en route from I-70 will pass through three counties before reaching US-340 in rural Frederick County, which gradually descends into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Continuing on US-340, drivers briefly pass through Washington County and subsequently cross the Potomac into Virginia. Minutes later, drivers again cross state lines and enter West Virginia, subsequently traveling several miles along the Shenandoah before finally reaching the visitors lot adjacent to Bolivar Heights.


Visitors are more likely to be taken in by the quaint buildings and breathtaking scenery encompassing gallant mountains and the confluence of two rivers than by the historical significance of abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 raid on the park’s armory, which foreshadowed the bloody Civil War less than two years later.

Harpers Ferry changed hands several times during the conflict, but many are not aware that West Virginia broke away from Virginia in 1863 to form its own state and remain part of the Union. Unlike Virginia, which was agricultural and dependent on plantation slave labor, West Virginia was industrial and therefore decided to hedge its bets with northern states where manufacturing and natural resources were the keys to economic growth.

Many may be unaware, that the park, which is primarily located in West Virginia, encompasses parts of Virginia and Maryland as well due to the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Though kayakers and rafters are often aware of this distinction.


The restaurant was not very busy late Saturday afternoon

Thomas Jefferson, who visited in 1785, described this intersection as “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.”  As for myself, having travelled throughout most the U.S. and much of Europe, I wholeheartedly agree with Jefferson’s assertion. Few places on earth match the natural splendor of Harpers Ferry.

Aside from scenery and historical import, Harpers Ferry restaurants and cafes offer some of the best authentic Americana cuisine in the nation.

Coach House Grill n’ Bar on High Street is one of the best and I usually order the Coach House Burger with American cheese and a side of Western fries. For dessert, Scoop’s Ice Cream down the street is highly recommended.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit as winter is often uneventful  and summer tends to attract large numbers of tourists.



























About the author

Bryan Renbaum

Bryan is a reporter and political columnist with Baltimore Post-Examiner and has broken multiple stories involving athletic scandals. He has been interviewed by ABC's Good Morning America as well as Baltimore area radio stations. Bryan has both covered and worked in the Maryland General Assembly and is extremely knowledgeable of politics, voting patterns and American history. In addition to his regular duties, Bryan freelances for several publications and performs investigative research. He has a B.A. in Political Science. Contact the author.

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