The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

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A community in Jefferson County, Harpers Ferry, WV, (map) was established in 1763, but settled as early as 1734 by Robert Harper, for whom the town was named, and who first operated ferries across the Potomac River and Shenandoah River at the point of present-day Harpers Ferry. Harpers Ferry was the scene of the historic raid by John Brown, in 1859, on the Harpers Ferry Arsenal. Harpers Ferry is the lowest point in the State, at 484 feet above sea level.

Harpers Ferry, WV
Harpers Ferry, WV Hotels

Harpers Ferry, WV

Harpers Ferry, WV is located about: 6 miles east of Charles Town, WV; 10 miles southeast of Shepherdstown, WV; 19 miles southeast of Martinsburg, WV; 22 miles west of Frederick, MD; 28 miles south of Hagerstown, MD; and 28 miles northeast of Winchester, VA.

On Dec. 1, 1834, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) reached a point called Wager's Bridge, at present-day Harpers Ferry, WV.


Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Antietam National Battlefield (MD)
Harpers Ferry Historic District


Shepherdstown Public Library


Jefferson County Schools



Map of Harpers Ferry, WV showing streets and highways, and nearby airports, parks, buildings, churches, cemeteries, trails and other points of interest, with link to driving directions.

Topo map of Harpers Ferry, WV and vicinity

John Brown's Fort

180px-Arsenal-1.jpg John Brown's Fort in Harpers Ferry, WV

Harpers Ferry Station

Scale drawings of the B&O Railroad's Harpers Ferry Station

Census Data

Population: 307 (2000 Census)


Elevation: 484 feet
Longitude: -77.7392
Latitude: 39.3253

The Founding of Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry is the most eastern town in West Virginia and derives its name from Robert Harper, an Englishman who was a carpenter and mill-wright, residing near Philadelphia. In 1747, he was employed to build a church for the Quakers on Opequon River. Arriving at Frederick, Maryland, he expected to go to his destination by way of Antietam, but was induced by one Hoffman to go by "The Hole," as the present site of Harpers Ferry was then called. On reaching the place he found the spot occupied by the cabin of Peter Stevens, who had built the cabin there in 1734.

Harper was so much pleased with the surroundings that he bought the claim from Stevens for fifty British guineas, and afterward purchased the title from the agent of Lord Fairfax. Harper brought his family to this place, which he made his permanent residence.

Harper died in 1782. A ferry was established across the Potomac River, by the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1761, and the place has ever since been known as "Harper's Ferry."

Variant Name(s) for Harpers Ferry, WV

Harper's Ferry, Peters Hole, Shenandoah Falls, The Hole