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

Bills in Congress Could Preserve Sites at Historic Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, where three states and two rivers converge, has $11 million in deferred maintenance.
The Pew Charitable Trusts

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.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park : Deferred Maintenance
1min 37sec

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.

Harpers Ferry
The exterior of the stone and brick Lockwood House has been preserved, but maintenance needs prevent visitors from seeing the historical artifacts inside.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Harpers Ferry
Inside Lockwood House, walls are peppered with soldiers’ graffiti.
The Pew Charitable Trusts

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.

Harpers Ferry
Union Army leaders once trod these steps—as did students at a college for freed slaves that was later housed here.
The Pew Charitable Trusts

Marcia Argust directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to restore America’s parks.

Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry
Fact Sheet

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

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Fact Sheet

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. In Thomas Jefferson’s words, this land where the Potomac River cuts through the Blue Ridge Mountains is “one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.”1 George Washington, Meriwether Lewis, John Brown, “Stonewall” Jackson, and Frederick Douglass are also among the prominent Americans who left their mark in this area. Part of the quaint, historic town the park was named after lies within its boundaries.

Yellowstone landscape
Yellowstone landscape
Fact Sheet

National Park Case Studies

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Fact Sheet

The National Park Service needs almost $12 billion to eliminate its backlog of deferred maintenance. The Pew Charitable Trusts' campaign to restore America's parks has created a series of case studies highlighting examples of repairs needed at our nation's treasures.