Harpers Ferry NHP has multiple verifiable associations with the Underground Railroad. Most nationally significant are the Armory Ground and Engine House where abolitionist John Brown's 1859 Raid unfolded. Brown attempted and failed to seize weapons from the national armory in order to garner local and regional support to start a war on slavery and free thousand of slaves throughout the south. During the antebellum period, the area was still part of Virginia. Several escapes from slavery are documented through local newspaper reports and one is included in William Still’s book, The Underground Railroad. Many of these stories took place at the “Point” area of the town where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers converge. When the town was occupied by northern forces during the Civil War, escapees who passed into Union lines seeking protection, were designated “prize of war”, “contraband”, detained in a contraband camp at the former Armory enclosure and placed on work details for the US Quartermaster. United States military records' regimental morning reports detail military and civilian activities, and Freedmen's Bureau's operations reports in West Virginia document African American lives on the road to freedom. These and many other escaped African Americans' stories are integrated in the park’s John Brown Museum, Black Voices Exhibit, publications, educational programs, and public history tours.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: PO Box 65, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson, 25425
Contact Information: 304-535-6029 (main phone)
National Park Unit: Yes
Ownership: Park Superintendent
Location Type: Site
People/Organizations Associated with the site: Civil War,Contraband,Robert Baylor (Owner)
Freedom Seekers: Charles Stewart,John (WV, 1862)
UGRR Operatives: John Brown,Joseph Blanhum