Charles Town WV History | Explore the Civil War Trail!

Few periods of American history are more fascinating and more devastating than that of the Civil War. Brothers fought brothers, thousands of soldiers fell ill with disease, and the war was battled because of the stain of slavery. People still point to the war today as one of the focal points in the American story.

While the history can feel distant, visiting some of the historical sites can help you understand historical figures on a deeper level. You can also develop a special reverence for the lives lost on the battlefield.

Charles Town lies right on the Civil War Trail, and as such, has some interesting places to explore including the Carriage Inn Bed and Breakfast itself! Check out the best historical sites in town in this handy guide!
Image may be subject to copyright

The Rutherford House

Address: 417 E Washington St, Charles Town, WV

One awesome way to experience the Civil War Trail is spending the night at our inn, also known as the Rutherford House! Mary and Thomas Rutherford and their eight children, kept this home safe throughout the Civil War. You will learn all sorts of historical trivia and revel in the antiquity of our inn from the comfort of your bed, and during a delicious breakfast. 

Built in 1836, the Carriage Inn went through many renovations to make it look more like a classic southern home. Once West Virginia was carved out of Virginia to become a Union State, the Rutherford House went from being a home frequented by Confederate leaders to one consistently visited by Union generals, including General Ulysses S. Grant and General Philip Sheridan. You can stay in our Garden View Room, where General Sheridan stayed during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864.

Don't miss out on staying in this 19th century inn. There are so many stories here, we just can't cover them all in this article!

Best Hikes

Discover some interesting hikes with some gorgeous natural panoramic views and some historical landmarks! Whether you have small kids or you're a skilled trailblazer, there's a path for everyone to follow!

Appalachian Trail Loop

Length: 1.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

This adorable little loop has stunning scenery that once inspired Thomas Jefferson to say: "This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic." Check out Jefferson Rock and breathe in the sea of trees.

Virginius Island Trail

Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy

Interested in a historical walk? Bring your family to this easy trail where you can see ruins and artifacts from some of America's historical periods.

Maryland Heights Loop

Length: 6.6 miles
Difficulty: Hard

This long hike will take you through the upper part of Harpers Ferry National Park. You'll see the remnants of the Union army's base camps from before their defeat.

Loudon Heights Trail to Split Rock

Length: 6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Those who are interested in hiking to the south are in for a nature hike unlike any other. You'll spot gorgeous expanses of the rivers, quartzite rock formations, and you can take a peek at Pleasant Valley.
Image may be subject to copyright

Harpers Ferry Canopy Tours

For guests with a heart that seeks after adventure, the canopy tours in Harpers Ferry are the place to be! River Riders allows you to take up a harness and cruise down a 1000 foot zipline course running alongside the Potomac River!

Alternatively, you can also go to the adventure park for smaller zipline rides, but with more riding opportunities.

If you're interested in one of these life-changing zipline rides, click the button below for more information!

Zion Episcopal Church

Address: 301 E Congress St, Charles Town, WV

Kitty-corner from the Rutherford House, you'll see a quaint, unassuming red-brick church. When you enter, you'll see the beautiful stained glass windows bring light to the stoic silence that lingers in the chapel. When you walk the grounds, you'll be walking by hundreds of graves commemorating one of America's most notable families.

Over eighty Washington family members are buried here! George Washington's siblings Lawrence and Samuel are buried here. As are his great-grand nephew, also named George, who owned the Carriage Inn from 1888 and became mayor of Charles Town around the 1900's.  History buffs come from far and wide to find these graves.

Downtown Charles Town, WV

Walking through town, nearly every building you see has some historical relevance. You can discover historical houses that were used as hospitals and barracks during the Civil War, you can find the abodes of famous Civil War figures, or you can just enjoy the architecture from the time period.

Our favorite sites are:
  • The Carter House
  • The Tate House
  • Jefferson County Museum
  • Edge Hill Cemetery

If you want the perfect walking tour, download the Charles Town history brochure by clicking the button below! It will bring Civil War history to life as you walk down these storied streets.

Historical Sites in Harpers Ferry

Address: 515 S Samuel St, Charles Town, WV
It's located at the Gibson Todd House.

John Brown, the famous abolitionist, was hung here for his apparent incitement of a slave rebellion a year before the Civil War began. Brown led a band of men to raid a government armory at Harpers Ferry, and was later found guilty of treason against Virginia, murder, and incitement.

He stood firm in his convictions that slavery was a moral evil until the very end of his life. This site is well worth a visit. You'll also be able to learn more about him at the Jefferson County Courthouse and the Jefferson County Museum.

Historical Sites in Harpers Ferry

These are the most notable historical sites in the downtown area. Taking a short stroll or drive through the town will show off some of these cool buildings. Keep your eyes peeled for them!

John Brown's Fort

Built as the armory's fire engine and guard house, this small fort has a complex history that you can learn about on your visit.

John Brown Museum

Learn about the raid on Harpers Ferry at this quaint museum. You'll experience interactive exhibits and get to watch a film about this historical figure.

Lockwood House

This is a prominent building in town that had several roles during the Civil War. It was originally a home, but was converted into a hospital for the Union soldiers.

A trip to Charles Town is a trip that's worth something! You get an insider look at Civil War history no matter the time of day! The Carriage Inn is the perfect place to stay for a historical vacation.

Book with us today!