Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Harpers Ferry

We were in Harpers Ferry, so of course we went to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.  We had heard that parking in the town itself was next to impossible, so we didn't even try it.  We left our car at the lot provided by the park service and caught a ride down on their shuttle bus.  Easy peasy :).

The bus dropped us off and the first place we headed was the bookstore to purchase our Jr. Ranger books.  Those books are so awesome!  They really do give an outline of the park and sort of a guide to follow when walking around.  We took some time to sit on the porch and browse through the books before starting off on our edu-venture.

Walking down the street, we ventured into each of the buildings.  There was the gun-making shop, a museum with progressive videos that you have to go room to room to watch (different...), some buildings were just shells with dirt floors inside, so much to see...

the doors were so narrow!

The Visitor Center is in the old Master Armorer's House and includes a pretty good museum.  On one of our visits to the Ranger desk, a chest full of old style clothes was brought out for the kids to try on.  Bonnets, aprons, and shawls for the girls...Civil War hats and vests for the boys...

...and the windows, I just <3 old wavy glass like that :)

The VC overlooks the site of the Arsenal Square...all that's left is just some foundations.  Next door to that is John Brown's Fort.  The Armory's fire engine house-where Brown made his last stand after his raid to seize the weapons in the Arsenal had failed.

Just past the Fort there is a point that looks out over the rivers.  Harpers Ferry sits at the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers.  And yes, there used to be a 1761, Robert Harper (the town's namesake) established a ferry across the Potomac. 

After walking along the water and the old railroad track for a while, we turned back towards town.  As we were walking along one of the streets, we saw a sign that told of a certain Mr. Lewis who had come to Harpers Ferry to procure supplies in 1803 for an expedition out West.  So cool to think that THE Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, walked these very streets...

Just when our feet were starting to get tired from all the walking, it was time to join up with the Ranger talk.  I highly recommend this if you ever go!  The talk starts out at one end of the town, you gather around the Ranger and he starts telling of the town's history...for different parts of the talk, you walk to different areas of the town-all while he points out the places he is talking about (and you do get to sit and rest at some of the stops, btw).  Even though we had already walked the entire place on our own, we still enjoyed and learned some new facts from the tour.  Oh, and it's free :).

this is the spot where the tour starts

We saw  At the end of the day, we were pretty tired!  You see, this park offers kids the chance to earn not one, but THREE Jr. Ranger badges.  Three!  There are levels to complete, and for each level a different badge is earned.  Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master.  We were talking to the Rangers so much that day, that they knew our names when they saw us coming ;).  And yes, the four of my kids that still do the program each earned (and they worked hard for them) all three badges.  They wouldn't have had it any other way :). 

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