• Interior of the John Brown Fort

    Harpers Ferry

    National Historical Park WV,VA,MD

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  • Temporary Suspension of Reference Collection Research

    Due to the park archives and research room/library space move, new public research requests will not be filled until at least May 30th, 2014.

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    The park is currently open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last shuttle bus departing Lower Town at 5:45 p.m. More »


Virginia bluebells

Virginia bluebells growing on Virginius Island.

NPS Photo

Plants are a very important component of the park since approximately 70% of its land is forested. An overview of plant species follows, but note that distinct upland, lowland, and floodplain vegetation communities are present throughout the park [see Trees and Shrubs subheading].

Numerous fern species including woolly lip fern (Cheilanthes lanosa) and marginal shield fern (Dryopteris marginalis) occur in the park. Grasses, sedges, and rushes also play a valuable role in the plant communities. Tall brome grass (Bromus pubescens) and greenish sedge (Carex virescens) are just a few of the local species. Trees such as chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) and tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) often dominate the forest canopy; whereas, red maple (Acer rubrum) and hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) are frequently scattered through the understory. Common shrub species in the park include spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), while popular wildflowers include
Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

Did You Know?

Robert Harper was granted an exclusive ferry concession in 1861.

Robert Harper operated a ferry across the Potomac River in 1747. His heirs, the Wagers, maintained the operation until 1824 when a bridge was built across the Potomac.