Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry engine house (3D model)

John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry in October 1859 was a critical event in the history of emancipation.  Brown might have been the most determined emancipator in America during the years before the Civil War.  His audacious plan to seize weapons from a federal arsenal and lead southern slaves to freedom along the Appalachian mountains was aggressive enough to scare away even some longtime friends and supporters such as Frederick Douglass.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park near Charles Town, West Virginia contains several historic sites (both restored and preserved) for visitors to experience.   The most significant might be the engine house or John Brown’s Fort which served as the location where Brown and some of his men holed up at the end the raid with their hostages.  The storming of the engine house (by federal troops under the command of Col. Robert E. Lee) marked the culmination of the 36-hour raid.

The House Divided Project at Dickinson College has created several three-dimensional models of the historic stuctures from the Harpers Ferry park and within nearby Charles Town (site of Brown’s trial and execution.  Models include:

Heyward Shepherd Monument (Harpers Ferry)

Monument for original engine house location

Courthouse (Charles Town)






The models have been created in Google Sketch Up, a free, open-source design program that allows users to create 3D models and then place them within Google Earth tours, such as this one created for Underground Railroad sites from Christiana (PA) to Harpers Ferry (WV).

You can also search and view existing Sketch Up models for all eras of world history at Google’s 3D warehouse.

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One Response to Harpers Ferry

  1. Sahar says:

    I am an 8th grade Social Studies teacher currently teaching the events leading to the Civil War. I want to have my students view the movie, Lincoln as a culminating activity after we complete our study of the Civil War. Your site has been most helpful in helping me procure primary source documents on the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the 13th amendment. I especially appreciated the fact vs. artistic license section which spelled out fact from the embellishments made to make the movie dramatic. Thanks to Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day Lewis, and all of the historians who helped make this movie happen. My 8th graders need a visual to help understand a crucial period in history.


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