Harpers Ferry National Historical Park will expand by 176 acres on Thursday as the Civil War Preservation Trust transfers a key part of the battlefield to the National Park Service during ceremonies on historic School House Ridge.
The transfer ceremony will be part of a day-long series of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of John Brown’s Raid and the beginning of the American Civil War. Other events include panel discussions by leading Civil War scholars as well as a tour of NPS-owned sites associated with John Brown’s raid and the 1862 Battle of Harpers Ferry. The anniversary event is cosponsored by NPS and the Virginia and West Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial commissions.
Harpers Ferry was the scene of two pivotal events in Civil War history. Many historians consider militant abolitionist John Brown’s October 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry an attempt to incite armed slave rebellion, one of the Civil War’s precipitating causes. The Battle of Harpers Ferry, fought on September 12-15, 1862, culminated with the largest mass surrender of U.S. troops until World War II.
The Civil War Preservation Trust acquired the $1.3 million School House Ridge property in 2002 with the aid of federal and state matching grants. In the ensuing years, the property has been maintained with an eye toward improving the visitor experience by transferring the land to NPS.