Bills in Congress Could Preserve Sites at Historic Harpers Ferry
Pew video tells the national park’s story and why a Civil War-era house needs to be restored
West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland come together at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, a heavily forested spot known for its spectacular natural setting and its significant role during the Civil War. The park also marks the unofficial midpoint of the nearly 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail.
More than 340,000 people visited the park in 2017, but parts of its history were locked away from them because of $11 million in deferred maintenance. Harpers Ferry’s history and backlog of repairs are the topic of a video from The Pew Charitable Trusts (below). In it, Cathy Baldau, executive director of the Harpers Ferry Park Association, shares some of the stories behind the park’s historical designation: John Brown’s raid to free slaves and the Lockwood House, which served as a Union headquarters and Confederate prison before it became a college for freed slaves.
While the outside of the Lockwood House has been preserved, safety concerns have kept its doors locked to visitors. The video gives a glimpse of the artifacts inside that tell the story: peeling wallpaper, soldiers’ scribblings on the walls, and remnants of a schoolhouse chalkboard.
Congress can restore national treasures such as the Lockwood House if it votes to fix our parks. Two measures have attracted strong bipartisan support: the Restore Our Parks Act (S. 3172) in the Senate and the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (H.R. 6510) in the House. Both would provide up to $6.5 billion over five years to address priority park repairs, more than half of the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance at National Park Service sites. Providing funds for maintenance now would also keep repairs from becoming worse and more costly.
Marcia Argust directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to restore America’s parks.