Washington Heritage Trail Washington Heritage Trail Washington Heritage Trail Washington Heritage Trail Washington Heritage Trail Washington Heritage Trail Washington Heritage Trail Washington Heritage Trail
Washington Heritage Trail Visitor Services History Calendar of Events Other Self-Guided Tours Links & Resources
Washington Heritage Trail
Jefferson County, WV
About Jefferson County
Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Jefferson Rock
Shenandoah Canal
Entler Hotel
Rumsey Monument and Tobacco Warehouse
Morgan's Grove Park
Peter Burr House
Charles Town
Jefferson County Courthouse and Museum
Zion Episcopal Church
Happy Retreat
St. George's Chapel Ruins
Cedar Lawn
Claymont Court/Blakeley
Middleway Historic District
Berkeley County, WV
About Berkeley County
B&O Roundhouse & Station Complex
Belle Boyd House
Berkeley County Courthouse
Triple Brick Museum
General Adam Stephen House
Green Hill Cemetery
Van Metre Ford Bridge
Bunker Hill Mill
Morgan Chapel
Morgan Cabin
Gerrardstown Historic District
Hays Gerrard House
Mill's Gap
Sleep Creek Wildlife Management Area
Hedgesville Historic District
Mt. Zion Episcopal Church
Snodgrass Tavern
Morgan County, WV
About Morgan County
Spruce Pine Hollow Park
Berkeley Springs
Dutch Cemetery
Throgmorton's Inn
Bath Historic District
Berkeley Springs State Park
George Washington's Bathtub
Roman Bath House & Museum of the Berkeley Springs
Washington's Lots
Sir John's Run
Panorama Overlook
Great Cacapon
Camp Hill Cemetery
Paw Paw
Paw Paw Tunnel
Coolfont Manor House
Cacapon State Park

Washington Heritage Trail


After surveying western lands for Lord Fairfax of Virginia, George Washington realized that the Potomac River provided the most direct route from the Tidewater to the Ohio Valley. Although his plan for a canal to make the Potomac more navigable was rejected in 1774, after the Revolutionary War efforts to promote a canal were endorsed. The Potowmack Company was created in 1785 and Washington was its first president. He hired James Rumsey as manager. In 1828, rights to the Potowmack Company were transferred to the C & O Canal Company. The C & O Canal reached Cumberland, Maryland by 1850. It never reached the Ohio River.

The Potowmack Company periodically made plans to improve the Shenandoah River. In 1807 it completed the Shenandoah Canal, a 580-yard canal just above Virginius Island. Lift locks were erected at the lower end of this canal where the pulp mill ruins now stand.

A bridge across the canal leads to Virginius Island which was once a thriving 19th century industrial town. After the flood of 1936, the worst recorded in Harpers Ferry, the last islanders fled never to return.

In 1819 John Hall established Hall Rifle Works on Lower Hall Island separated from Virginius Island by a narrow channel. The Hall Rifle Works used a concept of interchangeable parts to produce breech-loading rifles.

Today, the canal is part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.


Copyright © 2010, Washington Heritage Trail, Inc. Funded in part by the Federal Highway Administration.