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Shepherdstown WV

Shepherdstown West Virginia
“Oldest Town in West Virginia”

Town of Shepherdstown WV

The Town of Shepherdstown is located along the Potomac River in the beautiful lower Shenandoah Valley and is the oldest town in West Virginia. You can experience the history and ambience of a town that pre-dates the Revolutionary War while, at the same time, enjoying our wonderful restaurants, festivals, many unique shops and very lively music and arts scene. Nearby to Shepherdstown you can visit Civil War sites at Harpers Ferry or Antietam, you can hike or bike the C&O Canal path and you can enjoy rafting, tubing or kayaking on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Shepherdstown is known to be the most haunted town in America, for its ghostly residents as it is for the local arts scene, university, and historic attractions.

History of Shepherdstown WV

The first British colonial settlers began their migration into the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in the early 18th century. Many crossed the Potomac River about one mile down river from the future site of Shepherdstown. In 1734, Thomas Shepherd was granted 222 acres on the south side of the Potomac. From that tract he selected 50 acres and laid out a town. Naming his town Mecklenburg, he petitioned the Virginia General Assembly for a charter, which was granted in 1762.

Shepherd was the sole trustee, owning the town and being responsible for its government. More than six natural springs feed Town Run before it enters the south end of town. It never floods, nor runs dry; it meanders through backyards, under houses, across alleys and beneath five streets. This setting was conducive to millers, tanners, potters, smiths and other artisans. As a result, by 1775, the town boasted 1,000 inhabitants.

On December 3, 1787, James Rumsey conducted a successful trial of his new invention, the steamboat, in the Potomac at the north end of Princess Street.

The Hamtramck Guard (The Shepherdstown Light Infantry) was dispatched to nearby Harpers Ferry to subdue John Brown’s raid on the federal armory  in October 1859. At the outbreak of the Civil War, this group became Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry, Army of Northern Virginia. They become part of the famous “Stonewall Brigade.”

After the nearby Battle of Antietam in Maryland, September 17, 1862, General Robert E. Lee’s infantry crossed the Potomac at Pack Horse Ford. The town was overwhelmed with 5,000 to 8,000 casualties of that battle. Every house, building, church, alley, and street was filled with the wounded and dying. The Battle of Shepherdstown occurred on September 20, 1862, during Lee’s retreat. More than 100 Confederate soldiers died here and were buried in Elmwood Cemetery. After the American Civil War, the town’s name was officially contracted to Shepherdstown.

  • Antietam National Battlefield
  • Burnside’s Bridge
  • Historic Shepherdstown & Museum
  • Yankauer Nature Preserve
  • C&O Canal Lock 38
  • Hagerstown Model Railroad Museum
  • The Rumsey Monument
  • Barron’s C & O Canal Museum
  • Georgians Overlook

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