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Harpers Ferry National Historic Park

The downtown of Harpers Ferry, the little town in West Virginia's eastern panhandle where radical abolitionist John Brown and his freed slave compatriots made their doomed 1859 raid, was declared a national park in 1986, insuring the preservation of an important site in the history of both the American Civil War History and the struggle against the injustice of slavery. Today visitors to Harper's Ferry can learn about this history past in its faithfully preserved antebellum setting. Visitors may walk its cobblestone streets and shop for free, but those who want to enjoy the many museums and tours must obtain a pass at the Visitors Center.

Visitors can take the Ranger Guided Tour Harpers Ferry: a Place in History, or stop in the Storer College Building, a former teacher's college for freed slaves which now charts the history of the region's African American community. In the John Brown Museum wax effigies tell the story of the famous raid.

Outdoor adventures in Harpers Ferry are available for hikers, bikers and backpackers. Hiking the Maryland Heights Trail past the old Civil War fortifications to Loudon Heights is a favorite activity, with nice river views along the way. Jefferson's Rock is another popular destination, offering a good view of where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converge. Those who want to check out the historic C & O Canal Path can rent a bike and follow the old tow-way on land or arrange for a raft excursion.

Bird Watchers Rejoice! Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is 70% forest and home to 170 bird species, including the Red Tailed Hawk and the American Bald Eagle. The endangered Peregrine Falcon is also being reintroduced to Maryland Heights as part of a multi-year program.