I am Hilary Grabowska,a Centennial Volunteer Ambassador for the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.


For the next three weeks, eight SCA high school students and their two crew leaders will be helping out Harpers Ferry National Historical Park’s Maintenance Department with trail work on Loudon Heights. Tuesday July 28 was their first day and they learned so much about Harpers Ferry National Historical Park as well as camping in the heat and humidity of West Virginia.

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Photo: Hilary Grabowska (SCA orientation to Harpers Ferry NHP)

While they are camping in tents in 90+ weather right now, they are experiencing something that visitors to the park never experience. These students are camping on a Civil War battlefield. During the Battle of Harpers Ferry in 1862, Confederates were stationed on School House Ridge South (where the SCA students are) and even had cannons with them. These Confederates forced the largest surrender of Union troops during the Civil War.

While the students are experiencing camp life similar to Civil War soldiers, they will also be experiencing what local charcoal sellers had to do to run a business. The main project of these students is to clear out the historic Charcoal Road on Loudon Heights. This road was in operation in order to provide charcoal to the Federal Armory in Harpers Ferry Armory. Charcoal was needed to generate energy and the mountains around Harpers Ferry were covered in trees perfect for charcoal.

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Photo: Hilary Grabowska (SCA students learn the history of Harpers Ferry NHP in the shadow of Loudon Heights on their right).

The students will have other projects to complete over the next three weeks, but clearing the Charcoal Road is their number one priority at the moment. We are so excited to have these students with us and wish them the best of luck in their exciting job!