In General
Getting Here
Maps
Sights
Signals
Floobydust


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In General


Location / Name:
Harpers Ferry WV, Jefferson County

What's Here:
Amtrak / MARC Station
Three bridges
Tunnel (on the Maryland side of the river)

Data:
GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 304
ZIP: 25425

Access by train/transit:
Amtrak and MARC

The Scoop:

Harpers Ferry is an interesting spot on the old B&O mainline heading west from the Baltimore and Washington DC lines that come together in Brunswick, and offers the railfan many interesting photo ops with the combination of tunnel and bridges.

If you're into hiking, you can also get some real nice views from the Maryland side, way above Harpers Ferry - it's about a two-mile hike one way.

The MARC station is a good spot for pictures, as is a little east of there to catch trains on the bridge leading into the tunnel.

While you're there, don't forget to check out the Toy Train Museum, the town, and some of the Civil War history.

Amtrak's Capitol Limited stops in town around 11:30am on it's way into Washington DC.  The WB Capitol Limited arrives in Harpers Ferry around 5:15pm.  I believe the service is every other day, but since Amtrak is not posting the regular schedules (that I can find in Oct 2020), I'm guessing.

MARC Service has more trains in the evening coming out of Washington DC, then it has in the morning inbound to DC.







Acknowledgements:
Bruce Stambaugh
Tim Eaton
Denver Todd
Google Maps
Bing Maps - please note, as of 2019 or so, Bing does NOT have Birds Eye views available for this area anymore! :-(  Shame on You BING

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
https://brucestambaugh.com/tag/harpers-ferry-wv/
Central Maryland homepage
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_%26_O_Railroad_Potomac_River_Crossing
https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMMW5R_Harpers_Ferry_Tunnel_1931_Near_Knoxville_MD
http://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2017/04/b-harpers-ferry-bridges-and-tunnel.html Very good page on the tunnel and bridges with history!
https://railfanguides.us/md/bollman/index.htm A page about the last surviving example of the B&O's Bollman Truss style bridge, in Savage MD
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpers_Ferry_station
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brunswick_Line


Getting Here

If you are coming from the west or east via interstate 70, take US340 south from Frederick MD, which is exit 53.  From Frederick, Harpers Ferry is about 14 miles south on US340.

Coming up from the south west, as in I81, I usually take exit 307 at Stevensville (you could also go up to exit 317 at Winchester, and take VA7 east to get to US340, but I found it usually takes a little longer than getting off at exit 307).  My daughter used to go to school at Virginia Tech, and getting off here made the trip to Baltimore much quicker than going across 66 through DC, or up to Hagerstown to catch 70.  At this exit are a bunch of good places to get gas and catch something to eat.  Anyways, head east on VA277, which is Fairfax Pike.  In about 4 miles, you will hit the traffic light junction of 277, US340, and US522 (take a left and you'll wind up at the East Broad Top!  :-).  Go straight through the intersection, and you are now on US340.  Stay on this as you pass through the small towns of Boyce, Berryville, Rippon, and then bypass Charlestown.  You may also be able to catch some Norfolk Southern action as you toot along, but in the 20 some years I've been using this route, I've never caught anything.  In Berryville, there is a nice set of N&W CPL signals if you hang a right on Main St and go to the crossing.  About ten years ago, they built a bypass around Charlestown, which makes the trip go a little quicker, but the downtown area has some nice shops in it if you have your wife or girlfriend with you.  Just follow the signs for 340, and you can't go wrong.  Where 340 and WV9 meet up with the 340 heading to Harpers Ferry, there is a standard cloverleaf interchange, just watch the signs.  From there it's about 5 miles to Harpers Ferry.

From DC, you have a couple of choices.  You can head west from the DC Beltway on either VA7 or VA267, the Dulles Airport Access Road, which is a toll road, and head to Leesburg where you can pick up US15 heading to Point of Rocks.  Just on the other side of the river and Point of Rocks, hang a left onto MD464, Point of Rocks Rd, and take that the seven miles into Brunswick, and then another 7 miles or so to Harpers Ferry after 464 meets up with US340.

If you're coming from the north side of DC, I would just head up I270 to Frederick, and then catch US340 south... while it may be a little longer, you don't have the stop signs, traffic lights, and slow moving idiots that plague the back roads.


Maps


The above map in PDF format is here






Sights


  the Harpers Ferry Tunnel

GPS Coordinates/South Portal: 39.324284, -77.725718
GPS Coordinates/North Portal: 39.324135, -77.722453

Harpers Ferry Tunnel, built in 1931 on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, is a very busy tunnel where trains cross from the tunnel over the river to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia.  According to a website describing proposed changes to this tunnel, the tunnel was originally built in 1893 and modified in 1931. Proposed changes are to modify the tunnel to accommodate 'double stack' freight cars needing a 21 foot clearance. The tunnel runs through a geographic feature called Maryland Heights, which was one of the locations that the Confederate Army placed batteries to surround and eventually capture Harpers Ferry.  The tunnel is about 861 feet long.











  the Harpers Ferry Bridges

GPS Coordinates/Both Bridges/North End: 39.324284, -77.725718
GPS Coordinates/Main Bridge/South End: 39.324586, -77.730704
GPS Coordinates/Branch Bridge/South End: 39.323565, -77.728832

   

       

   
An early morning WB, lighting is harsh, especially with the lingering haze :-)

A couple of vintage photographs showing the original Potomac River bridge - one of them is an aerial from when Harpers Ferry had a flood in 1938.  The aerial photo also shows three sections of the older Bollman Truss bridge having been replaced - don't know if it was because of a re-alignment after the tunnel was dug, or if it was because of a washout from a previous flood.






  the Harpers Ferry MARC Station

GPS Coordinates: 39.324484, -77.731072

 

               

               

   
Even pictures from the parking lot of the station don't turn out tooooo bad.....

  Bruce Stambaugh



  Shenandoah Sub-Division Trestle









  Overlook

Somewhere up here is a path leading to an overlook of Harpers Ferry.  You're on your own, as I have no clue where to find the beginning of the path, but it's suppose to be off of Sandy Hook Road.




Nice shot of the old bridge piers - Bruce Stambaugh

  Bruce Stambaugh









  Harpers Ferry Toy Train Museum & Joy Line Miniature RR

GPS Coordinates: 39.327620, -77.765305 (entrance to)

Thanks to Tim Eaton for finding this museum.  We'll have to check it out on our next visit to Harpers Ferry.  Is has a huge collection of Lionel Standard gauge and O gauge equipment, as well as a 75 foot long operating layout.  Outside it has a "Live Steam" railroad that can be ridden.

Here's a couple of links to get you started:
    http://www.wvcommerce.org/travel/travelplanner/listing/Harpers-Ferry-Toy-Train-Museum/2909/default.aspx
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/museums/harpers-ferry-toy-train-museum-and-joy-line-miniature-railroad,1086340.html



 













Signals






  EB Interlockers at the Tunnel

Signals at the bridge split, on the Harpers Ferry side of the tunnel.  Up until 2005 or so, these signals were B&O CPL's.

     

    These pictures are from way back in the early 70's, scanned from prints





  Intermediate Signals adjacent to the station

           



  Intermediate Signals at Bakerton Rd





    Crossover along Sandy Hook Rd



  WB Signals

  WB Signals

  EB Signals

A lot of the signal equipment around here, and in New Brunswick is mounted up and away from possible flood surges....





  EB Interlockers along US340





  WB Interlockers along US340







Floobydust


Sights from the station parking lot

   



Disclaimers:

I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given!  Please be NICE!!!  Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.

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