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Harpers Ferry, population 286 at the 2010 census, is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States, in the lower Shenandoah Valley. It is situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, where the U.S. states of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet. It is the easternmost town in West Virginia and during the Civil War the northernmost point of Confederate-controlled territory. (The northernmost Virginia city of Wheeling was strongly anti-slavery, and was the first capital of the breakaway region that became West Virginia.) The town's original, lower section is on a flood plain created by the two rivers and surrounded by higher ground.
The lower part of Harpers Ferry is within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Most of the remainder, which includes the more highly populated area, is included in the separate Harpers Ferry Historic District. Two other National Register of Historic Places properties adjoin the town: the B & O Railroad Potomac River Crossing and St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church.
The town was formerly spelled Harper's Ferry with an apostrophe—in the 18th century, it was the ferry owned and operated by Robert Harper—and that form continues to appear in some references.
Because of its geography, Harpers Ferry was a vitally important junction point. In colonial times and through the early U.S. years, its location at the junction of two rivers, and the feasibility of a ferry – the first regular ferry across the Potomac, antedating the founding of Washington – made it a natural site of commerce.
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