Destination WV

Harpers Ferry railroad bridge reopens for visitors to cross Potomac

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HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (WDVM) — The train derailment over the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry closed bridge access from the scenic town to the C&O canal trails in Maryland.

It was the weekend right before Christmas last year when an empty freight train derailed. Investigators recently revealed operator error was the reason. Crews have been busy getting things back to where they were before the rail accident. And if you fix it, they will come!

Over the weekend, those crews from the CSX railroad completed the repair work and the bridge reopened. And even though the National Park Service has not reopened its facilities in the town, tourists were happy at the start of this post-Independence Day summer week to take in the magnificent sights, the cliffs rising above the historic community from the cool waters and wave-splashed rocks.

Harpers Ferry Mayor Wayne Bishop, who is grateful for the tremendous help the town got from the National Park Service, says visitors are back in droves.

“Tens of thousands of people use this bridge to gain access to the state of Maryland, the C&O Canal, the National Historic Park,” says Bishop. “It also gives us access to the Maryland Heights trail hiking system. So it’s used extensively.”

For a young tourist from Arizona visiting family here, it was pretty special to explore the unique scenery here and cross the bridge over the Potomac. “The bridge is very nice,” says Abraham Jones. “It’s nice to have it back and be able to walk over the river again.”

Bishop is most grateful to the National Park Service for getting the bridge restored so quickly.
“I must specifically thank our National Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg for his leadership and tireless work in collarorabtion with CSX in getting the bridge back open again,” said Bishop.

And should you cross the bridge, there is a pair of peregrine falcons nesting in the Maryland heights. The National Park Service is protecting them with fencing for the time being. But they are a sight to see. The peregrine is among the fastest birds in the world.

And the Park Service says that as pandemic restrictions are lifted it will announce the reopening of its Harpers Ferry facilities on its website, www.nps gov.

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