Guide Tours Restart in Harpers Ferry
The Certified Guide Tours, operated by the volunteers of the Harpers Ferry Park Association, are a special tradition that go well beyond the short tours of lower town provided by rangers through the park service. The standard tour consists of three stops at Bolivar Heights battlefield, Storer College at Camp Hill, and Lower Town Harpers Ferry. Guides can tailor a tour if guests provide requests during registration. Per current health guidelines, guests will now drive their own cars and guides drive separately in their own vehicles. Guests must purchase tickets in advance (see website info below). Tours of Lower Town are also offered on weekends on a walk-up basis (no pre-registration required for walk-up tours, masks and social distancing
Longtime guide Chris Craig fell into the program through his own curiosity. A long time DC resident, he was a frequent visitor to Harpers Ferry and eventually moved there in 2005. For the next ten years, he operated a bed-and-breakfast in his home and continued to immerse himself in the town’s history. Enjoying his experience sharing the town with his guests and informally guiding their explorations, Chris decided to take up the HFPA guide training.
As Chris described it, “all of the Certified Guides have to pass a test (you need a high score to pass) and take in-person training with the park staff. Our final preparation is a mock tour with the staff before they allow us to lead on our own. To prepare we read lots of books. The unique aspect of Harpers Ferry are the multiple themes of history that we are prepared to discuss — Lewis & Clark, John Brown, the B&O Railroad — history has a lot of layers in Harpers Ferry.”
Chris observed that a common thread among the program’s guides is a love of history and the desire to share it with others. It’s no surprise then that Chris had many years of experience as a teacher, primarily in special education and math, and that two of his colleagues are also teachers by profession. He describes the program as a “mix of a mission, an intense personal experience, and something all of the guides enjoy every day. You might be surprised what you learn on a tour. Especially if you live in Jefferson County, it’s a great way to learn about local history.”
Harpers Ferry Park Association is a non-profit partner of the Harpers Ferry National Park. Tour reservations, membership & volunteer information can be found at their website or on Facebook. The Association Bookstore is located at 723 Shenandoah Street, Harpers Ferry WV. Walk-up tours of lower town are available on weekend.By Staff Contributor