It was foggy and 55 degrees this morning in Lexington so I took my time getting up and out. The morning ride through the Virginia countryside was cool but sunny and clear as I passed pretty farms and dairies spread out over the gently rolling surroundings.
Before long I had crossed the state line into West Virginia.
West Virginia didn't exist until 1863 when the majority of the population decided to break with Virginia and stay in the Union. That means that I had crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into "enemy territory."
The reader will note that the little statue of the soldier on the front porch of this house is wearing a BLUE uniform.
Harper's Ferry is famous for a lot of reasons. It sits at the intersection of the Shenandoah River and the Potomac River, meaning that it's placement has very high strategic value.
As well as apparently a lot of recreational value now too, to rafters, kayakers, canoeists...
The US Army had an armory and manufacturing mill here where they made rifles. It was one of only two in the nation at the time. The other is perhaps more well known, the Springfield Armory.
In 1858, abolitionist John Brown conducted a raid here to gain control of the arms and to spread rebellion among the slaves, but he was caught by a band of US Marines and an army officer appointed over them, then US Army Colonel Robert E. Lee. Lee had been in leave and came straight to the engagement in his civilian clothes.
Brown held up in this "fort" which was really the fire station for the armory and was eventually captured and shortly thereafter hanged for treason.
According to legend, Frederick Douglass said that this was the first battle in the war to end slavery in America.
During the Civil War the town passed between the hands of the Union and Confederacy six times. The first time was when Confederate General Stonewall Jackson captured the city and the Union garrison, which was the largest surrender of us troops until Bataan in World War Two.
These days the town looks a lot like it did back then with several period homes and business locations surviving to be renovated for use by modern-day occupants.
After several maddeningly unsuccessful attempts at uploading photos of some of the sights in beautiful Harper's Ferry with the terrible internet here in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, I have resolved to try to add them tomorrow from Gettysburg.