Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of two great rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah, and three states, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Thomas Jefferson described the scene in his Notes on the State of Virginia: “The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder and pass off to the sea… This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” At Harpers Ferry, you can hike up to Jefferson’s Rock to enjoy the view that Jefferson described. If you’re up for a more strenuous hike, cross the river to Maryland Heights, 1,448 feet above the Potomac, for a breathtaking view of Harpers Ferry and the rivers. Explore Virginius Island along the banks of the Shenandoah River, where mills and factories operated until the Civil War and record floods in 1870 and 1889 reduced the island to ruins. And, of course, stroll the Lower Town Historic District, where George Washington built a federal arsenal, and John Brown launched his ill-fated raid in 1859.
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