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Posts Tagged ‘Jefferson Rock’

Winter Themes and Best of Steam

Our artist line-up is set for the season! Pith Helmet Provisions is now in the house, along with Christopher Loggie, Kasey Hendricks, Josh Aterovis, Mark Schumaker and Jason Edwards. We have re-installed our most popular 3D images with a new one featuring a view of Harper’s Ferry from Jefferson’s Rock.

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is now in full production of its own signature stylings of prints, solid brass keychains, and hand-colored Harper’s Ferry postcards.

Olde Tyme Christmas starts next week, November 30.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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On April 28 & 29 there will be an Art Walk from Bolivar to Harpers Ferry’s lower town. This character:

can be seen in Art Walk participant windows.  The print is based on an illustration of Maryland Heights by Granville Perkins for the publication “Picturesque America” published in 1893.

Harper’s Ferry.
With illustrations by Granville Perkins

“After a short but heavy rain the air was fresh and bracing on the October day when we started for Harper’s Ferry. There is no season so glorious in any country as an American autumn, and it is, above all, the time to see the mountains to the best advantage. The atmosphere, bright, clear and bracing, acts upon the frame like champagne ; the forests put on their livery of splendid dyes, and gold and crimson and sober brown are massed on all the hills, or set in a dark background of pine and hemlock. For this reason, seated in the cars of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and with the arriving and departing trains making discordant noises in our ears, we congratulate ourselves on the beauty of the day. …

The first near sight of the mountains is inevitably one of disappointment. Is it not thus withall the stupendous works of Nature ? The man who expects to stand spellbound and awe-stricken before Niagara,will find this emotion very commonplace in contrast to the exalted state of feeling he anticipated. Very seldom, indeed, are the combinations such as to present these scenes in all their impressive grandeur ; and rarer still is the mind that is capable of comprehending at once all that is taught by them. Yet those who have been merely summer sojourners among the “eternal hills,” can understand, if they have used their time wisely, why the mountaineer comes gradually to love them. He can feel, seeing them again, the force of the attachment that animated, thousands of years ago, the Hebrew people, whose strong places of defence they were, and that animates to-day the Switzer, who, far away from his native Alps, grows homesick, even at times unto death, and whose eyes are tear-stained whenever he hears the familiar “Ranz des Vaches.” …

Climb the Maryland Heights, as we are to do to-day, and pause on the ascent and look back. Fair and open lies the northern landscape, bounded by its semicircle of mountains. How the mind expands and feels a sense of delight and power as the eye takes in, at one sweep, the glorious scene! The feeling that pictures us as slowly transversing the huge mountains, insignificant atoms on its vast surface, ants that crawl over an ant-hill, vanishes. And then to this first exhilaration, this flush and glow of pleasure, succeeds the softer, calmer mood that sees, in the still and marvellously beautiful vsion, but one of the least of the wonderful works of the Creator. There is no disappointment in a mountain. …

The town of Harper’s Ferry is built at the foot of the narrow tongue of land that thrusts itself out like a cutwater, separating the Potomac and the Shenandoah, and known as Bolivar Heights. It lies in Jefferson County, West Virginia. … Including the little town of Bolivar, on the heights, the population of Harper’s Ferry is about two thousand. The principal street runs parallel with the Shenandoah, with a side-street ascending the hills to the right, perpendicular to which numerous stairs, cut in the solid rock, lead upstill steeper ascents. …

We are now on our way to Jefferson’s Rock. Perched high up to the right are the bare walls of the Episcopal and Methodist churches, whose joyous bells, in other times, aroused the echoesof the mountains on the calm Sabbath, while the worshippers wound their slow way up the steep hill, and perhaps paused at the church-door to take a last look at the glorious scene below, the wooded heights, the shining river, the sleeping town, and to thank God that their little home, secure among its sheltering peaks, was so peaceful and unthreatened. …

Before visiting Maryland Heights and the superb panoramic view that there sweeps around almost from horizon to horizon, a few moments will be well spent in seeing the less striking scenery of the Heights of Bolivar. Unless the traveller be a remarkably good pedestrian, a carriage and horses will have to be procured for part of the ascent of the former, and the drive around Bolivar over a good road can easily be made a part of the day’s programme. If dismayed at the board-signs that,projecting from dilapidated shanties, announce them to be livery-stables, he expresses doubts as to procuring a respectable team, he forgets one thing – he is in Virginia, and on the boarders of the Valley. The man that is surprised, therefore,to see a pretty woman or a fine horse is strangely unacquainted with the latitude. Our landlord, upon being consulted, promises us the horses in a moment, and in little more than that time, they are at the door – a sorrel of mustang blood, and the prettiest three-year-old Black Hawk we had set eyes upon for many a day. …

The evening falls among the mountains, calm and peaceful. The huge shadows of the dusky heights overcast the town and river. If it is in the season – for artists, like migratory birds, have their time for appearing in different places, and for disappearing – some wandering artist from Baltimore, Washington, or, in rarer cases, New York, may stroll in with sketching-portfolio and camp-stool, and exhibit to the wondering natives the counterfeit presentment of familiar scenes.

The night darkens, and the Ferry puts on another aspect, both noveland singularly beautiful. The mountains, dimly seen, close upon the murmoring river and the quiet town. They rise, still sombre and black, unrelieved bya single gleam of light, and shut out the sky, except immediately overhead, or where the long reach of the river has made a break in their continuity, which the eye follows, and down which the twinkling stars, reflected in the water glitter brightly.”

Enjoy the walk!

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The Niles’ Weekly Register, Vol. XXX, Whole No. 765 reported on page 1,that Mr. Jefferson (yes, that’s Thomas Jefferson, the President, drafter of The Declaration of Independence, etc., etc.) was in desperate circumstances:

We have not approved of any of the propositions to raise money for the relief of the author of the Declaration of Independence, except in the way in which he himself has expressed a willingness to be relieved – supposing that we acted in perfect accordance with his secret wishes, if any he has, on the subject: but we observe that in New York, and elsewhere, it is proposed to purchase tickets in the lottery for the disposal of his property, and burn them on the 4th of July! This cannot, we should suppose, be other than pleasing to our venerable friend – and certainly, is the happiest scheme yet thought of, to afford the relief needed and pay a beautiful compliment to one who, on that day, fifty years before, was at his post, “and pledged his life, his fortune and his sacred honor” in support of the declaration, that “these states were, and of right ought to be, free, sovereign and independent.”

Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826.

In Harper’s Ferry, historic preservation is almost a way of life. It is hard to believe that a former President of the United States would be considered almost destitute. But indeed, he was.

Thomas Jefferson Randolph, as executor of his estate and representing the family, initially asked $70,000 for Monticello. In 1831, Monticello was sold to James Turner Barclay for $4,500.

How long is history?  What do you think is worth preserving?

By the way, there’s a rock here in Harper’s Ferry, named after this guy. Maybe you’ve seen it? If not, it has been preserved just for you!

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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!

HARPER’S FERRY
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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I am not the first to say that a place found me, rather than the other way around.  The first time I visited Harper’s Ferry was in the middle of winter.  February, I think.  There was snow on the ground and I walked the winding path to Jefferson Rock and saw the famous view. Little did I know that this short day trip from Washington, DC would turn into an annual

View from Jefferson Rock

View from Jefferson Rock from Picturesque America 1893

trek, which would turn into a business called Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

What I hope to do with this blog is post a little history, fiction, rumors and tales about Harper’s Ferry and the region.  I want to write about tangible things which get lost in the virtual world.  More than a Civil War experience, this little town has a history of industry, creativity, education and innovation.  Like most small towns.

I hope this blog will inspire you to visit Harper’s Ferry, or maybe even invent something, write a story or two, or investigate the history of your own small towns.

Something wonderful is out there waiting to find you.

Thank you for reading!

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