“The Most Eligible Spot on the Whole River”

Harpers Ferry—The Early Years
  • George Washington
Part of the Contributions to Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA)


Harpers Ferry is situated at the gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. In 1733, landowner Lord Fairfax allowed Peter Stevens to settle on lands and to establish a ferry that crossed the Potomac River. Stevens’s appearance is part of a larger migration to the lower Shenandoah valley and western territory by German, Quaker, and Scotch-Irish from southeastern Pennsylvania and the tidewater region seeking agricultural and commercial opportunities. The ferry operations facilitated travel through the Blue Ridge Mountains as the area became a major nodal point for two major transportation routes, one connecting Frederick and Winchester, the other connecting Charles Town and Antietam (Gutheim 1949; Noffsinger 1958:5) (Figure 8).


Wager Reserve Railroad Bridge Machine Shop Tidewater Region Commercial District 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Washington

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