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Urban Sketching in a Small Town

Harper's Ferry WVA

Illustration: Watercolor and pen and ink by Black Elephant Blog author

A recent trip featured a bit of hiking and sketching around the town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet in a “confluence.”  Lots of people were enjoying the water, while others were exploring the parkland and the town.

Harpers Ferry, most of which is a National Park, is well-known for its role in the Civil War but perhaps less known was its 19th century role as an emerging industrial center dependent on moving goods via a canal.  Stone ruins of a paper mill sit right outside the lower part of town, making for a very sketch-able spot. Recurrent floods and the success of the railroad about a century ago washed away many of its commercial prospects; (in another example, perhaps, of rapid technological advances making a hash of strategy). Still, it was surprising to learn that only a few hundred people live here year-round!  But it is such a beautiful spot that many more visit, especially on the weekends; they come from all over the world!

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