Harpers Ferry welcomes fall season tourists, National Park Services hosts “writer in residence”

West Virginia

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (WDVM) — For those hoping to take tours of the historic Harpers Ferry National Park in West Virginia’s scenic eastern panhandle, the pandemic has — to an extent — tied the hands of your host, the National Park Service.

A self-guided tour through Harpers Ferry is an insight into the community’s Black history and culture. Fed up with cabin fever the past year-and-a-half, the National Park Service is welcoming scores of visitors this glorious fall season.

“We have a range of stories that go from the colonial period up into the civil rights era,” said Leah Taber with the National Park Service.

Kathleen Ernst is a writer in residence hosted by the Park Service to document some of the history of the town, maybe some that are not as familiar as John Brown’s raid. Storer College in town, for instance, opened its doors to educating Black students.

“This was a very special place at a time when Black students could not be educated,” says Ernst.

In its own quiet way, Storer broke down some of the racial barriers over which the Civil War was fought.

“There was by all accounts a family atmosphere. Professors really took care of the students,” said Ernst.

While Harpers Ferry is so rich in history, it is also a tourist hot spot — so much so that investors from the Washington, D.C. area are investing millions to tear down the Hilltop House, which sits on a magnificent vista, and replace it with an upscale inn to complement everything else there is here.

Jaymey Majdi lives close to the site of Hilltop House and marvels at “so much natural beauty, so much history. We have lower town, we have the national park and we also have the Hilltop House Hotel.”

The Hilltop House project is expected to take several more years to complete. On the National Park Service website link for Harpers Ferry, are the top ten tips for visiting the town. Storer College ceased operations in 1955 but is credited with breaking down racial barriers in the very town where the institution of slavery began its demise.

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