Archive for January 25th, 2012

I thought I’d have enough mad-skilz to merge the image with the text, but no. Following is the article along with the photo.  Enjoy!

Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion
October 14, 1854

On page 233 we give a picture of Harper’s Ferry, taken from a recent sketch, and full reliance can be placed upon its truthfulness. Harper’s Ferry is 174 miles from Richmond. This place has risen at the justly celebrated pass of the Potomac river through the Blue Ridge, and is situated immediately at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, on the right bank of the Potomac, above the mouth of the Shenandoah. The Shenandoah, after running along the foot of the Blue Ridge in a direction nearly northeast, turns suddenly to the east, and mingles its waters with those of the Potomac, at the point where the latter, after flowing through a deep and well-wooded dell, from northwest to southeast, is entering that singular gap in the Ridge, through which the waters escape. The valleys of both rivers are romantic, and that of the Potomac unites singularity with beauty. The breadth of the Potomac is from two hundred and fifty to three hundred yards ; that of the Shenandoah, one hundred and fifty. Both rivers are so shallow that the waterleaves innumerable rocks bare in every part of the channel, whose sides are worn by thousands of petty rapids, which fret and struggle among the large blocks of granite. The town extends itself in contempt of all order, along both sides of the hills which divides the two rivers, and runs up to the jaws of the picturesque, but no way tremendous pass of the Potomac. At the point of this tongue of land is the armory; on the left and nearly even with the water, the working part of the arsenal: on the right, and overhanging the western bank of the Shenandoah, Jefferson’s Rock.

On the opposite banks of the two rivers the cliffs are more bold and striking. That on the Maryland side is supposed to resemble the profile of Washington, an illusion very pleasing to those whose minds are not adapted to relish the beauties of nature. The two cliffs of which we have spoken form a noble entrance to the romantic valley which lies beyond, embosomed amid woods and mountains, and winding among the projections of the latter until its exit is again guarded by immense rocks, where a passage corresponding to that of Harper’s Ferry, is broken through the Short Hills – a chain parallel to the Blue Ridge, and connected with it by spurs which enclose on every side this dell that contains so many elements of the picturesque.

The mountains, of considerable height, are clothed to their summits by forests of oak and pine, from out the thick shade of which project immense masses of granite, that yet shand the stern witnesses of some tremendous convulsion, the trees of which not even time, that has for thousands of years been scattering their debris daily below, has been able to obliterate. The bases of these mountains present elevated and very rugged cliffs, which, projecting into the valley, break its uniformity, and give a wilder aspect to the river, that spreads itself between them.

The western part of Virginia abounds in romantic scenery, but the traveler may toil for hours in its immediate vicinity plunged in a depth of shade, that excludes all idea of the beauty by which he is surrounded ; to ascend the mountains is difficult, and ads but little to his chance of gratification ; the foliate is nearly as thick there as at their base; but necessary local knowledge would be at the command of all, if those who annually make summer excursions through our country were as ardent admirers of nature as they commonly are of warm springs, or other objects which draw together a number of half sick, half idle people, who lounge away the best part of the year. As an instance, how many Dr. Syntaxes in search of the picturesque, of the company at the Springs or the wonders of Weyes’s Cave, plunge in the innumerable shades of Brown’s Gap, which brings so forcibly to mind the falsehood of Thomson’s lines :

‘I care not, Fortune, what you me deny,
You cannot bar me from fair nature’s grace,
You cannot shut the windows of the sky,
Through which Aurora shows her smiling face.’

How many unhappy wights perform this darksome pilgrimage, when they might, a few miles off from Sauks Gap, have seen the sun rise over a landscape, which exhibits the country towards tide-water, spreading out in an extent of forest as boundless and level as the ocean, to the north and south the long chain of the Blue Ridge, to the ewst the well cultivated valley watered by the Shenandoah, adorned by detached and picturesque mountains, and bounded by the hazy and unbroken line of the North Mountain The celebrated passage of the Potomac, before alluded to, at this place, is an object truly grand and magnificent.

The eye takes in, at a glance, on the north side of the Potomac and Shenandoah, at their junction, an impetuous torrent, foaming and dashing over numerous rocks, which have tumbled from precipices that overhand them ; the picturesque tops and isdes of the mountains, the gentle and winding current of the river below the ridge, presenting, altogether, a landscape capable of awakening the most delightful and sublime emotions. ‘This scene,’ says Mr. Jefferson, ‘is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.’

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