• Sun beginning to set at Harpers Ferry, as seen from Maryland Heights. Photo by NPS Volunteer Buddy Secor.

    Harpers Ferry

    National Historical Park WV,VA,MD

Cayla Gilliam

My summer has been absolutely incredible. I arrived in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia at the end of May, excited to be participating in a Visitors Services internship at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The first few weeks of my internship were taken up with becoming familiar with the area of the park. Harpers Ferry NHP is the steward of 4,000 acres of land in three states—West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland. David Gilbert, a local resident, is the author of A Walker’s Guide to Harpers Ferry. This book was indeed a guide and my copy has been thoroughly perused. I spent the first few weeks walking and hiking along the many miles of trails in the park. I learned so much during these few weeks. Among all of the history, I learned that one can never have too much bug spray, having picked up a tick which bestowed upon me, the unwanted gift of lyme disease.

After the first few weeks, I began working in the park InformationCenter. My primary duties were to answer any questions that the many visitors might have and to give informal interpretation when appropriate. I also began to work on researching my own guided walking tour of the LowerTown area of Harpers Ferry NHP. The topic that I chose to research and present was how the geography of this area influenced what happened here in the course of the last 250 years. I presented this tour on a daily basis for a few weeks.

From August 18-20 I was helped to staff the Centennial for the Niagara Movement here in Harpers Ferry. The weekend of the Centennial was full of music, theatrical productions and speeches. I had a great time helping the visitors and seeing history made right in front of me.

My summer internship is drawing to a close, but I will be staying on at Harpers Ferry this fall, while pursuing another internship in the Education Department. I have had such a wonderful experience this summer that I am glad to be staying on for another semester!

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.