Pivotal Piece of Harpers Ferry Battlefield Finds a New Home Within National Historical Park
Colleen Cheslak, (202) 367-1861 x7234
Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 x7231
(Harpers Ferry, W.Va.) — One of America's most scenic and historically significant national parks has grown, thanks to the recent donation of land from by the American Battlefield Trust, the nation’s premier heritage land protection organization. This 0.61-acre parcel is the final portion of a four-part preservation campaign undertaken between 2013-14 to be transferred to the National Park Service, and means the Trust is now responsible for the protection of 342 acres within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
“Over the course of 29 years, the Trust has faithfully stood beside the hallowed ground of Harpers Ferry, diligently pursuing preservation opportunities large and small,” said Trust President David Duncan. “This donation is the latest chapter in a long story of augmenting a landscape steeped in some of the most dramatic chapters of American history — from Civil War to civil rights.”
This particular site was once proposed for a new gas station and mini-mart, but the Trust and its devoted partners stymied historically destructive development in its tracks. In 2013, the Trust acquired this and an adjacent 3.28 acres in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Park Service and the Bank of Charles Town, all of whom recognized its unforgettable role in the American story. With this land now incorporated into its borders, the park’s gateway is more secure and new opportunities for interpretation can be sought.
“This landscape is rich in stories of our Civil War and civil rights history, and it’s an honor to have helped preserve it from inappropriate development,” said Joy M. Oakes, NPCA’s Senior Mid-Atlantic Regional Director. “The National Park Service is America’s greatest storyteller, and it’s vital that we help them protect places like Harpers Ferry for future generations.”
Sitting along the site of the Harpers Ferry – Charles Town Turnpike on Bolivar Heights, control of this land and the surrounding properties was vital to the U.S. forces defending Harpers Ferry. As the center of the Union position, it also was a prime target for the Confederates. On the morning of September 15, 1862, Stonewall Jackson’s artillery — placed on the heights surrounding the town — rained fire upon the turnpike and its bordering fields, setting the stage for a Confederate flanking maneuver that ultimately forced the Union surrender. About three years prior, the land witnessed a monumental moment on the hard-fought journey to expanded civil rights, when, in 1859, abolitionist John Brown raided the town’s federal armory.
The recent transfer of historic battlefield land marks the end of an impactful chapter of Trust efforts at Harpers Ferry. In 2013-2014, the group worked alongside various partners to save 17 acres on the battlefield. Some of that land was quickly moved into the park’s possession, and the transfer of the 13-acre Allstadt’s Corner property was celebrated in August 2019. The Trust will continue to prioritize its work with parks across the country to transform its inholding land into special, public spaces that all Americans can access and enjoy.
About American Battlefield Trust
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 53,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.
About The National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.