Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

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Ok I’m probably a bit too late to this but I wanted to mention the interesting history of Harpers Ferry. As you can see, the town is in a strategically useful location at the fork where two rivers (Potomac and Shenandoah) come together. Over time it’s become a major railroad hub and, being only 65 miles or so from Washington DC, became the site of federal armory, which John Brown thought he could put to better use. During the … unique process of WV becoming a state, a couple counties that now make up the eastern panhandle initially weren’t going to be a part of it, as most of the war the area was being occupied by one army or another. You can even see in the river ruins of older train bridges that had been destroyed in the fighting. WV appealed to rejoin the Union in 1863, which agreed on condition to additionally include these additional counties so that the railroads, rivers, canals, and armories within would be in Union territory. Furthermore, looking at the map you would think “OK this would be the intersection between 3 states: WV, VA, and MD (where the photo is taken)” In fact, the southern side of the river which you see on the left which would be Virginia was instead also made part of West Virginia up to the watershed for the specific reason to deny the mountain side of the river, within cannon-shot of Harpers Ferry and the Federal Armory, to be Confederate territory. In short, the boundaries of WV, which you can see here, were heavily defined by politics and history.

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