HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — Fall weekends are usually some of the busiest in Harpers Ferry and at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park but this weekend will be different with the ongoing federal government shutdown.
Harpers Ferry councilwoman Charlotte Thompson told MetroNews Friday she still believes people will visit her town and walk through the park with its limited offerings so the town is doing all it can to accommodate them.
“We’ll probably survive because there are hikers who are going to come in from the C&O Canal and the Appalachian Trail so there will still be people there but it’s going to be hard to park. I think that’s our biggest hurdle at this point,” Thompson said.
The shutdown means no national park visitors center and no 1,000 space parking lot that goes with it. Thompson said Harpers Ferry merchants are stepping up.
“They are finding places to park (for patrons) as best they can and leaving their shops open longer with discounts. They are doing a lot proactively to get people to have a good experience when they come into Harpers Ferry,” Thompson said.
The park averages more than 255,000 visitors a year. Thompson said people can still walk through the historic district but the park-run museums are closed and the interpretive opportunities with park rangers are not available.
Thompson said it’s unfortunate.
“This is the busiest time for Harper’s Ferry, the leaves are out, the peepers are around, we’re going to really feel this I think,” Thompson said.
The shutdown has also impacted the New River Gorge National River in Fayette County and the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Pocahontas County was scheduled to suspend operations Friday night.
Thompson said the Harpers Ferry community is moving forward even if those on Capitol Hill cannot.
“We’re determined that even if the Congress can’t get along we can. We’re going to make it work,” she said.