My Virginia – Harper’s Ferry

At approximately 3:00 am in the morning of July 23, 2015 a fire broke out in the historic town of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. The calamity resonated far beyond this town of 300, in large part because of Harper’s Ferry’s momentous role in American history and its popularity as a tourist destination. Luckily for the 300 residents who live in this tiny community, no injuries or deaths occurred due in part of an alert community member who was awakened by the outset of the fire. Two residences and eight businesses were destroyed, and most of the inhabitants felt that their town would never recover.

Now, in July of 2017, all but one of the structures have been rebuilt and tourism has returned with a flourish.  History is the town’s focal point as  Harper’s Ferry is best known as the place where abolitionist John Brown attempted to start a slave revolt in 1859 by raiding the town armory, but it was also a crucial spot in the struggle between the North and the South during the Civil War.

My son and I visited this historic town this month to celebrate its recovery and photograph the amazing rejuvenation that it underwent. Joe’s photographic expertise graces this story so that our readers can witness the miracle of an historic town, reborn.

During our visit there the town was hosting a Civil War event, complete with a military encampment that shared artifacts and explanations of what military life was like in those days. Shops have also reopened and tourists are once again flocking to buy souvenirs and bits of history.

For more information, or to visit this National Park, you can call for directions at (304)535-6029 visit their site at

Joseph O'Donnell, Sr. and Joseph O'Donnell, Jr.

by author Joseph J. O’Donnell and photographer Joseph O’Donnell


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