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To preserve Harpers Ferry National
Historical Park for the benefit and
enjoyment of the people of the United
States as a public national memorial
commemorating historical events that
occurred at or near Harpers Ferry.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is certainly one of our country’s hidden treasures- the
park includes a combination of natural and cultural resources that are unparalleled within the
National Park System. Harpers Ferry became a national monument in 1944 and was established
as a national historical park in 1963 in order to preserve historic resources and to commemorate
the historic events that occurred in Harpers Ferry for the benefit and enjoyment of all people.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is located at the confluence of the mighty Potomac and
Shenandoah rivers amidst the majestic mountains of the Blue Ridge. The landscape offers
several beautiful scenic vistas. Today, nearly 4,000 acre park consists of land in West Virginia,
Maryland, and Virginia. Harpers Ferry is home to over 170 bird species and 30 mammal species,
and about 70% of the park is covered with eastern deciduous forest.
The park also offers 20 museums and exhibits as well as 20 miles of hiking trails. The
Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, and the
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park intersect here. Harpers Ferry is also home
to the Stephen T. Mather Training Center, which trains National Park Service employees, as
well as the Harpers Ferry Center, where National Park Service interpretive media is designed.
Harpers Ferry is a park like no other because its history has few parallels in the American drama.
It is more than one event, one date, or one individual. It is multi-layered, involving a diverse
number of people and events, decision and actions that influenced the course of our nation’s
history. Harpers Ferry witnessed the first successful application of interchangeable parts, the
arrival of the first successful American railroad, John Brown’s attack on slavery, the largest
surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of
the earliest integrated schools in the United States. Due to the complexity of Harpers Ferry’s
past, the park embodies six themes: John Brown, Civil War, African-American History,
Industry, Transportation, and Natural Heritage. Each theme deals with a specific set of events
or circumstances that influenced the growth and development of Harpers Ferry and the role this
area played in the history of the United States.
For more information about the Harpers Ferry historicalthemes and other park facts, please
refer to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park section in the Appendix or our park website
- Samantha Zurbuch
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