National Geographic : 1945 Jul
Potomac, River of Destiny Stalt l'hotogralter It. Antllny siewar John Brown's Fort, after a Trip to Chicago, Is Home Again in Harpers Ferry When slaves failed to rally to John Brown after his capture of the arsenal in 1859, he and his 21 armed followers made their last stand in this fire-engine house. Brown was captured and two of his sons were killed when Federal troops under Robert E. Lee stormed the fort (Plate II). Dismantled in 1892, it was an attraction at the Chicago Exhibition. The country's Negroes raised some of the funds to bring it back to Harpers Ferry, where it serves as a museum for Storer College, a Negro coeducational institution. Lee's two disastrous invasions of the North, the first ending in Antietam and the second in Gettysburg, had to be made above Washing ton. The upper river was, and is, shallow enough to be forded in many places, while the lower, navigable portion was controlled by Union gunboats. As a matter of fact, the upper river in dry season was easier for the Confederates to cross than the canal alongside of it. In view of the destructiveness of modern warfare, it is suggestive that the Confederates were never able to blow up the locks or aque ducts, although they tried several times. Lack of high explosives and power ma chinery, such as bulldozers and steam shovels, explains this failure. Once Harpers Ferry is passed, we find our selves between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, in the Great Appalachian Valley. It is one of the longest mountain valleys in the world and one of the most fertile regions in this country. In Pennsylvania and Maryland it is known as the Cumberland Valley, and in West Vir ginia and Virginia as the Shenandoah Valley, or Valley of Virginia. A Valley Helps Make History But the Appalachian Valley is a single nat ural pathway from north to south, down which the tides of migration, settlement, and commerce have flowed from earliest times, regardless of State lines. The portion of the Great Valley which we enter at Harpers Ferry is the Eastern Pan handle of West Virginia, a neck of land al most completely surrounded by Virginia and Maryland and separated from the rest of West Virginia by the Alleghenies.