Since we’re located in the Shenandoah Valley, we’re surrounded by history. Many of the small towns and villages in the area were settled in the mid 1700’s, so you can still visit quaint villages with outstanding inventories of early vernacular housing. The towns of Shepherdstown West Virginia and Sharpsburg Maryland are good examples (Shepherdstown claims to be the oldest settled village in West Virginia). Fort Frederick, an intact pre-revolutionary war frontier fort is located less than 40 miles away in Western Maryland.Jefferson County is also home to an important Revolutionary War General, Horatio Gates (1729-1806), and George Washington made frequent visits to the area. Washington’s brother Charles founded Charles Town, and the County boasts several Washington Family homes including Happy Retreat, Bellaire, Harewood, Claymont Court, and Blakely. (Find out more at Washington Heritage Trail.)
Early industrial America is remembered in the remains of the Federal Armory and civilian manufacturing facilities in Harpers Ferry, as well as in the stone locks, viaducts and aqueducts of the C&O canal. Viaducts at Monocacy, Israel Creek, Antietam, and Conochogeague Creek (Williamsport, MD) are all close by.
The County is also the stage for important events leading up to the Civil War, most famously being John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. His subsequent trial and execution occurred in Charles Town. That trial, and the treason trial during the Coal Wars in southern West Virginia give Charles Town the distinction of having held the first two treason trials in American history.
The Civil War played out in Jefferson County and the surrounding areas. Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg, and Gettysburg are all close by and were scenes of significant battles. Even small towns such as Shepherdstown and Charles Town were affected by the war. Sheperdstown is the site of the modern Center for Civil War Studies at Shepherd University. The battle sites of Antietam, Gettysburg, Cedar Creek, Shepherdstown, and Balls Bluff are all less than 50 miles from us. Indeed, so much Civil War history is centered in Jefferson County that a multimedia website, Civil War Scholars has been created to tell the County’s story.