My name is Kelly and I’m one of the CVA’s at the lovely Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. There’s been a lot going on in our little park lately. We celebrated the Election of 1860 this past Saturday. Visitors got to “vote” for eitherJohn C. Breckinridge, a Southern Democrat, John Bell, a Constitutional Unionist, or Stephen A. Douglass, a Northern Democrat. For those of you history buffs noticing something fishy about the election, President Lincoln wasn’t on the ballot in Harpers Ferry. The town was anti-republican so his name never showed up. We also recently celebrated the 157th Anniversary of John Brown’s raid with a hike and a candle ceremony.
These reenactments have been the highlight of my weekends. The highlight of this week though was working with the National Parks Conservation Association to clean waysides. Sure, it’s not the most glamorous thing; unlike the reenactments, no visitors were gathered around watching us. But it was satisfying. It was satisfying to know that our little group was repairing waysides that might not have been touched in 50 years. For those of you who don’t know what a wayside is (I didn’t when I first started the job), a wayside is an informational panel placed in the park. They often contain historical information that provides more context for some of the lovely features of our park. Dennis Frye, the head of Interpretation for the park thinks of waysides like “an outdoor ranger, and if the ranger is in poor condition and disheveled, then the ranger looks bad”.
So it was really satisfying to give the “outdoor rangers” a much needed facelift, while also getting some exercise in. Maybe a little bit too much exercise. Three out of four teams had to hike Maryland Heights, which is a strenuous hike that can take three to four hours. This normally isn’t a problem when you have a good group of volunteers, but it becomes one when it’s 80 degrees out. Our volunteers solution to this problem (which really, I think is a decent solution to all problems) was to get ice cream. After all the hard work they put in, our volunteers stopped for ice cream and headed back to DC.
The group was absolutely wonderful to work with and never made a fuss about the heat or the hike. Overall we replaced 18 waysides which are valued at $1000 each. But more than the monetary value, our park is really grateful that we have lovely volunteers like the NPCA to help us keep the park running smoothly.
Best Wishes from Harpers Ferry!