Thursday, August 18, 2005

Anachrony 2, or, Harper's Ferry on a Very Hot Day


Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, is in a very beautiful place. For you who have never been there, where the Shenandoah mixes with the Potomac--the place where they have for eons, judging by the height and steepness of the cliffs--the steepness of the rock and the tenacity of the trees and the two rivers meeting, all overshadow the sights and sounds of the highway across the Shenandoah from the town.
The town itself has the strangeness of a museum where people also live and work. The historical strictures and monuments and National Park Service signs sharing space with tchochke stores and "No Trespassing" and handmade "This Is Private Property" signs leaves me feeling a little uneasy. The natural world upon which the town is built, though, more than makes up for the weirdness.
The historical instruction of the place is worthwhile. The little fire engine house where Colonel Lee captured John Brown after a long firefight is a good place. One can go inside the undecorated brick rooms, free from information plaques, sit on an old wooden bench in the coolness, and think about what Brown must have been thinking.
Just across the street from this little building is the monument whose photograph leads this post. It is called the Heyward Shepherd Monument, and many people have argued about it.
What do you think about it?

5 Comments:

Anonymous Sticky McBiscuit said...

I love it. When was this monument erected? They talk of the "faithfulness" of negroes amid the "temptations" or war -- like the temptation of not being a fucking slave?

Pretty amazing stuff.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Cham said...

Harper's Ferry is the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac. The Shenandoah is one of the few rivers in the US that flows south to north. The Potomac starts in the middle of WV and is the avenue for the C&O tow path. The main office for the ATC is located in Harper's Ferry. Harper's Ferry is also considered a midpoint thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trial.

Harper's Ferry is controlled by the National Park Service who wants a King's ransom just to park in a parking lot, regardless of whether you are looking at the exhibits or not. Luckily, there are a few free available parking spaces if you park on the street in town and walk to your destination.

If you head north from 10 miles HP on the AT you will find Gathland State Park, if you head south on the AT for 11 miles you will eventually reach Blackburn Center and past that, the famous roller coaster.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Portipont said...

It was dedicated in 1931--but the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterens originally planned a dedication for 1921 (and discussions about such a monument had begun decades earlier). At that time, the proposed monument was called the Faithful Slave Memorial--the faithful slave being another man who died during the fight. The town council denied permission for the monument, and it languished for ten more years.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Portipont said...

...also (for Cham), we noticed the ATC building, and were curious (but not enough to pass up lunch to find out) about what the ATC does--what sorts of things one could find in the office there in HF. Do you know?

We spent a lovely afternoon canoeing on the Shenandoah upriver a bit from the confluence.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Cham said...

Um, I can't remember whether I read it in someone's Trail Journal or in the book, "A Walk in the Woods" but in the ATC building there is some historical records and an ATC staff person who does some type of duty but I don't know what. The place is only open during weekdays.

3:53 PM  

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