The history of Harpers Ferry begins in the middle of the eighteenth century when Robert Harper moved to the area and established it as his own.  Ten short years later, he created a ferry service which traveled across the Potomoac River and the town began to grow.  By the end of the eighteenth century, it was a place frequently visited by the early presidents.  George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both spent time in the area, drinking at the famous Harper House ( ) and creating history in action.

However, the history of the area is most commonly associated not with Harpers Ferry ’s eighteenth century roots but with its relationship to the nineteenth century civil war.   More specifically, it is known for being the site of John Brown’s raid, the beginning of a slave revolt which took place in 1859 and ultimately lead to the execution of the famous abolitionist.    

Throughout this time, Harpers Ferry had been a town in the state of Virginia .   When the war ended, changes came to the area.  Harpers Ferry , along with other parts of the area, became their own state which was shortly known as West Virginia .  The area remained mostly quiet until the middle of the twentieth century when recognition both of the importance of this area to American history and of the beauty of the national parks of the area began to encourage tourists to visit.