HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is expanding following the successful purchase of nearly four acres of land near the park’s entrance in Jefferson County.
The Civil War Trust and the National Parks Conservation Association announced the public-private partnership purchase this week. The property is located near Route 340 right next to the Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
NPCA Mid-Atlantic senior director Joy Oakes told MetroNews the property played a key role in both the 1862 Battle of Harpers Ferry and a Civil Rights march 50 years later.
“This is four acres of land that could have been developed for a mini-mart, a gas station or something else but instead it will be preserved forever,” Oakes said.
The property sits near Bolivar Heights where fighting took place on Sept. 15, 1862.
“The Confederate Army tried really hard to get it. They never took possession of this particular section of land but ultimately the battle did go to the Confederate,” Oakes said.
The Battle of Harpers Ferry resulted in the largest surrender of Union troops during the Civil War.
Oakes said it’s not unusual for land to be added to national parks once money is raised. The purchase was greatly helped by an anonymous donor giving $345,000.
“This was really a partnership between the National Parks Conservation Association, the Civil War Trust, our members and owners of the property,” she said.
There is some development currently on the three tracts of land. Oakes said work will take place to return it to similar contour of 1862. She said visitors to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park will then be able to walk in the footsteps of Civil War soldiers and Civil Rights leaders.
The park has approximately 250,000 visitors a year.