Along with the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, the towns separate Historic District, and St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Harpers Ferry has a fourth historic place called the B & O Railroad Potomac River Crossing.
There are currently two bridges at this site:
The older bridge is a steel Pratt truss and plate girder bridge dating to 1894, carrying the B&O Valley line toward Winchester, Virginia along the Shenandoah River. A tunnel was built at the same time as the 1894 bridge to carry the tracks through Maryland Heights and to eliminate a sharp curve.
The newer bridge is a deck plate girder bridge dating to 1930-31 which curves across the river, carrying the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad main line to Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Harpers Ferry also had numerous other bridges crossing these mighty rivers throughout its past. Harper's Ferry operated from 1747 until 1824 when the first road bridge was constructed. In the same year, architect Benjamin H. Latrobe built a timber-covered bridge for trains. In 1851 another span was built, and it was one of the first Bollman trusses in the world, but this bridge was destroyed during the Civil War. The final destroyed bridge was another Bollman truss bridge built in 1870 for rail and highway traffic; it was destroyed by flood in 1936.
Harpers Ferry Train Station was built in 1889 in a Victorian style. The wood-frame building stands at the end of the rail bridge over the Potomac on the site of some earlier armory buildings. The station is still used today, both for arrivals and departures and for National Park visitor parking.
The parking here is very limited during busy weekends, and throughout the summer. There are only about 100 to 150 spaces at $6 each, but even in the winter they are often full.
MARC Commuter Rail trains operate Monday through Friday between Union Station in Washington, D.C., and Martinsburg, W.Va. on the MARC Brunswick Line. One-way fare from Union Station to Harpers Ferry is $9.00. Unfortunately the schedule is designed for commuters going from Harpers Ferry to Washington DC, not tourists visiting from the city. As such, the schedule has both morning trains going to Washington and all three afternoon trains coming from Washington. This might work if you planned to spend the night here on a weekday.
* Departs Union Station 4:55 p.m. – Arrives Harpers Ferry 6:16 p.m.
* Departs Union Station 5:35 p.m. – Arrives Harpers Ferry 7:09 p.m.
* Departs Union Station 7:15 p.m. – Arrives Harpers Ferry 8:42 p.m.
* Departs Harpers Ferry 5:51 a.m. – Arrives Union Station 7:28 a.m.
* Departs Harpers Ferry 6:56 a.m. – Arrives Union Station 8:30 a.m.
Amtrak's "Capitol Limited" between Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Illinois, stops in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., seven days a week. Fare from Washignton, D.C. to Harpers Ferry is $18 round-trip. Reservations are required. Their daily schedule has the same problem as the MARC train in that tourists wanting to use the train must plan to stay overnight.
* Departs Union Station 4:05 p.m. – Arrives Harpers Ferry 5:16 p.m.
* Departs Harpers Ferry 11:45 a.m. – Arrives Union Station 1:30 p.m.
Harpers Ferry's lower town has very limited parking. The National Park Service has just one lot near the railroad tracks with maybe 100 or 150 parking spaces available at $6 for three days. Just outside the train station, there are also some (very few!) two-hour public spots, maybe 20 or 30 of them.
If you plan to visit the lower town, drive down and see if parking is available in the lot, but if not, park at the National Park Service visitors center outside of town. From here you will also pay $6, but you can leave your car here and take the bus down to the lower town.
The upper town has more parking, but none within easy walking distance to the lower town.
When you are near Harpers Ferry, on Highway 340, you should look for the signs to the Visitor Center. If you are entering from the Southwest, this will be to your right; and if from the Northeast, on your left.
There is an ample car park here, and toilet facilities.
The shuttle bus departs about every 10 or 15 minutes, and only takes a few minutes to drive down the scenic road into Harpers Ferry town.
Parking is very difficult to find in Harpers Ferry. Visitors to the National Park actually leave their vehicles at the reception center and take a bus into town. Other folks compete for the very few parking places that exist. Plan to park away from downtown and walk.