Information about train derailment and footbridge at Harpers Ferry

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railroad and footbridge over the potomac river; part of the footbridge is gone; Maryland Heights mountain in the background
View from The Point at Harpers Ferry NHP on December 27, 2019

NPS/A. Cook

 

In the early morning of December 21, 2019, multiple cars of a train owned by CSX derailed from the railroad bridge crossing the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. The derailment damaged a portion of the Goodloe E. Byron Memorial Pedestrian Walkway, which is attached to the railroad bridge, preventing access across the Potomac River.

The National Park Service (NPS) is working with CSX to determine next steps. The timeline for re-opening the footbridge is unknown at this time. We understand that access to the footbridge is important to hikers and visitors to the area, and we are working to reduce the inconvenience.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Multiple cars from a train owned by CSX derailed on December 21, 2019. The derailment damaged the Goodloe E. Byron Memorial Pedestrian Walkway (pedestrian footbridge), preventing access across the Potomac River.
The timeline for re-opening the footbridge is unknown at this time.
The National Park Service is considering options for a shuttle service that would transport hikers and visitors around the footbridge closure until repairs can be completed. Specific details about a shuttle service are unknown at this time.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has information posted on its website to assist people with finding taxis or private shuttles around closures that impact the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Visit www.appalachiantrail.org/transportation for more information.
The footbridge connected four national parks that intersect at Harpers Ferry, all of which are impacted. The parks are: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park; Appalachian National Scenic Trail and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
Maryland Heights is a popular trail at Harpers Ferry NHP and there are a limited number of parking spaces at the base of the mountain. If you drive there and find no available parking, we suggest returning to the West Virginia area of the park to explore other trails.

Consider hiking the Loudoun Heights trail instead. It offers similar views of the town and the rivers and is also a challenging hike. A full list of the Harpers Ferry NHP trails with mileage, elevation gain, and difficulty level is available on the park’s Hikes page.
FAQs updated on March 2, 2020.
 
 

Previous Updates


Update as of January 17, 2020

The National Park Service (NPS) is working with CSX to determine the steps required to assess, fund and repair the pedestrian footbridge across the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The timeline for re-opening the footbridge is unknown at this time. We will continue to provide updates as we know more.
 
Update as of December 27, 2019

The pedestrian footbridge remains closed. All areas that were temporarily closed due to proximity of the train derailment, such as John Brown's Fort and The Point, have now reopened.

Below is more information about areas of the park affected by the footbridge closure.
 
Information as of December 21, 2019


Just before 4 a.m. on Dec. 21, 2019, a CSX train derailed from the bridge crossing the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. There were no injuries or hazardous materials involved in the derailment. CSX is fielding calls about this incident by phone at 1-800-232-0144.

The derailment affects access to parts of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park, and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The following information details closures and impacts on visitor access.

  • The footbridge attached to the CSX bridge is indefinitely closed.

  • Park users will be unable to cross between Harpers Ferry and C&O Canal towpath.

  • Park users will be unable to cross from Harpers Ferry to the Maryland Heights trail.

  • The footbridge is part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. AT hikers should check in with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for updates about the trail.

Other areas of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, such as The Point and John’s Brown Fort, are closed temporarily because of proximity to the derailment. These areas will reopen once cleanup and assessment are complete.

This page will be updated when there is new information about access to park areas.

 
photo of train cars derailed off of a bridge into a river at Harpers Ferry
Train derailment at Harpers Ferry on December 21, 2019

NPS/T. Troxel

Last updated: March 2, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Phone:

(304) 535-6029

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