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Colored sections are areas being visited.

Welcome to the Eastern Panhandle. Sandwiched between Maryland and Pennsylvania, you might wonder why this area is part of West Virginia. Well, the land that comprises the counties of Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson was the source and site of fierce struggles during the Civil War...the war that gave birth to the mountain state.

We're going to begin our tour in..




CHARLES TOWN




Historic Charles Town Walking Tour

It seems that George Washington surveyed this area in 1748, and liked it so much that he encouraged his half-brother, Lawrence Washington, to buy land here. Later, he also invested 550 acres nearby.
When Lawrence died, George's younger brother inherited the land upon which he founded, in 1786, the town that bears his name. This is HAPPY RETREAT, Charles home.

It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are other Washington family homes that are in the vicinity which we may pass.
But moving on now, there's the Jefferson County Museum.

Let's go on in and look around. I know we will learn a lot about John Brown.

Whoa..this is the wagon that carried his black walnut coffin to the gallows.

They also have an extensive Civil War Collection for all you Civil War buffs.

This is the Jefferson County Courthouse which is famous as the site of two of only three treason trials held in the U.S. prior to World War II.

Here in 1859, abolishionist John Brown, wounded and lying on a cot during the proceedings, was convicted and condemned to death.



I hope everyone enjoyed themselves and got a lot of pictures, but it's time to start walking. Next in line is the Old Opera House.

After having extensive renovations, it's now used for live perfomances year round. It will seat 300 theatergoers.

Now I know we've been walking for quite a while, so we'll go somewhere where we can sit. Let's get the Chevy and head for the Charles Town Races, but don't spend all your money in one place.

They've got live horse races as well as simulcasts from other tracks. There's also video lottery terminals, and guess what. Parking and admission are FREE!!!

If horses aren't your thing, then we should head for the Summit Point Raceway.

This is a multi-faceted WV race complex that hosts racing for sports cars, karts, and motorcycles. Also home to a driving school and car club events. So it looks like not only can you watch just about any kind of race you want, you can even race your own car. Of course, it has to be inspected and meet all the safety requirements. This is quite a place. I've never seen anything like it.

We'll call it a day here and move on to...





HARPERS FERRY




Two rivers (Shenandoah and Potomac) and three states (Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia) converge at Harpers Ferry. Each year, about half a million people visit this village, most come with history in mind. This town has witnessed industrial and transportation history, the struggle to end slavery, the Civil War, and the education of former slaves. The whole town is an historic district and part of it is in the National Historic Park.

When you hear the name Harpers Ferry, you no doubt think of John Brown.

This is John Brown's Headquarters. It was from his upstairs room in this building, also known as the Kennedy Farmhouse, that John Brown planned and executed his raid on the Federal armory at Harpers Ferry in October 1859.

The house is actually located in Samples Manor, Maryland, and is only seven miles from Harpers Ferry.

We're going to take a walk now to Jefferson Rock.


Jefferson Rock.

When viewing Harpers Ferry from this location, Jefferson claimed the sight was worth "a voyage across the Atlantic".

This sight is certainly worth taking the time to see...

This is the point where the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers meet.

As much as I would like to stay here, we must take our leave and be on our way to....





MARTINSBURG


Founded in 1778 by General Adam Stephen and named for a nephew of Lord Fairfax, Martinsburg was a thriving center of culture and commerce before the Civil War. It was a bitterly contested place during the war, and changed hands as many as 60 times. It has seven historic districts.

Put on your walking shoes and lets get going.

First stop is the


Boarman House.

One of the oldest brick buildings in town, it now houses the County Convention and Visitors Bureau located on the ground floor. (We'll pick up our walking tour brochure here.) Upstairs you will find the Boarman House Arts Center. With special emphasis on West Virginia artists, it has changing shows of arts and crafts ranging from traditional to contemporary. It also maintains the Art Space Open Studio, an artist-in-residence program.

Next comes my favorite...the Belle Boyd House.

This was the childhood home of West Virginia's most famous Civil War spy. Meet the flamboyant

BELLE BOYD
ACTRESS, AUTHOR

She was a tireless self-promoter. In 1860, she once wrote to her cousin Willie saying, "I weigh 106-1/2 pounds. My form is beautiful. My eyes are of a darker blue and so expressive. My hair of a rich brown and think I tie it up nicely...indeed I am decidedly the most beautiful of all your cousins". A year later, 18 year old Belle shot a Union soldier and began her career as a Confederate Courier.

Her further exploits included a stint in jail, a London acting career, three husbands and five children.
Her autobiography

Belle Boyd in Camp and Prison

includes these stories, I'm sure, as well as other amazing things she did.

The Apollo Theater

This theater, built in 1902, was designed by Reginald Geare, architect for the well-known Knickerbocker Theater in Washington D.C. It's been home to vaudeville shows, concerts and movies. It currently serves as Martinsburg's center for live community theater.

We have now arrived at the home of the founder of Martinsburg.

Adam Stephen House.

General Stephen was a distinguished surgeon and soldier in the American Revolution. He also operated a nearby mill, ran a distillery as well as an armory, and was sheriff of Berkeley County to boot.

Right next door is the Triple Brick Museum.

The museum was once divided into three separate dwellings to house B&O Railroad workers. Inside you'll find old glassware, flax and wool-spinning wheels, early surveying equipment, etc.

Since we have been walking for a while, we can go get the Chevy. (Is that sighs of relief I hear?) We're going to see the

Vanmetre Bridge.

This three arch bridge was built in 1832, and is the oldest intact bridge in the state.

Now on to the last town in the region.





SHEPHERDSTOWN


During the Civil War, General Lee's troops retreated across the Potomac at Pack Horse Ford. After the battle at nearby Antietam, the troops left, leaving this town's homes, churches and other buildings filled with the wounded and dying. Unlike Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown was spared burning, and many old homes survived the war intact.


photo by Ralph Blodgett
Established by Act of Congress on August 30, 1890, this Civil War site marks the end of General Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North in September 1862. The battle claimed more than 23,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in one single day, September 17,1862, and led to Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Antietam National Cemetery is one of the 130 cemeteries of the National Cemetery System. It is a system that began during the Civil War. There are 4,776 Union remains (1,836 are unknown) buried here from the Battles of Antietam, South Mountain, Monocacy, and other action in Maryland. All of the unknowns are marked with small square stones. These stones contain the grave number, and if you look closely on a few stones, a small second number represents how many unknowns are buried in that grave. There are also a few of the larger, traditional stones that mark unknown graves. In addition, more than 200 non-Civil War dead are also buried here. Veterans and their wives from the Spanish-American War, World War I and II, and Korea were also buried here until the cemetery closed in 1953.





Since Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry share many of the same attractions, we'll be leaving this region now and going to the one I consider to be the most important!!! You'll see why when you get there.