Harper’s Ferry to Shannondale

Get off the Beltway at Rt 50 and head west.

You’ll hit a bunch of red lights, but in the next few miles, there are several ancient motels. One of them has a second floor picture window over the office. Inside the window is a huge, wooden ship’s wheel. It’s the sort of wheel you might find on some ancient sailing craft.

A short time later, Rt 29 continues straight while Rt 50 takes a turn to the right and heads northwest. You want to stay on Rt 50. It’s called the Lee Jackson Memorial Highway along here.

It runs straight as an arrow all the way out to the tiny community of Aldie. Aldie is famous for a double-waterwheel grist mill.

Right before you get to Aldie, take the Rt 15 intersection and head north. This is called the Monroe-Madison Memorial Highway.

You’ll arrive in Leesburg in short order and you will have a choice. If you continue straight, the road will take you to downtown Leesburg. This is a lovely old community with a lot of hundred-year-old buildings covered in gingerbread.  If you don’t feel up to dealing with tourist trap traffic, then take the Rt15/Hwy7 (Harry Byrd Hwy) bypass west. On the west side of Leesburg, you’ll take Hwy9 north. This area will have a lot of McMansions scattered around, like mushrooms after a summer storm.

Follow Rt9 until you see State Rt 671, Harpers Ferry Rd. Follow that north. There are some beautiful farms through this part of the country.

The road will end at Hwy340, Jeffersons Pike. It is on the Potomac, between two bridges. Turn left and continue over a modern bridge, crossing the Potomac.

As soon as you cross the bridge, take the first right and it will lead you down, through the C&O Canal National Park, to the old part of Harpers Ferry. If the weather is nice, you’ll probably have to find a parking place near the bridge and take a free shuttle downtown. There is VERY limited parking in the historic district.

As in most national park historic areas, there are dozens of great photo spots. There are dozens of historic buildings that date back to the early part of the 19th century, an old railroad station that is still in use, a lovely stone church on a hill and it’s all surrounded by rugged mountain ridges.

The Harpers Ferry railroad tunnel has a footpath where you can walk over to the Maryland side of the river.

When you grow tired of playing tourist, head back up to Hwy340. At this point, you have a choice. In the summer, you can turn right and there is an awesome flea market just a few miles away.

If the flea market isn’t your thing, turn left and head south, back over the Potomac River bridge.

A very short distance from the bridge, you’ll want to make a hard right turn and follow Chestnut Hill Road.

This winds over the western slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains and meanders south. Take it easy and enjoy the views.

Chestnut Hill Rd. becomes County Rd32 and the name changes to Hostler Rd. This eventually merges with Rt9.

Continue west on Rt9 until you see Mission Rd on your left. Turn south and follow Mission Rd. to the community of Shannondale Springs.

I’ve already posted some images of the Shannodale Iron Furnace and the models I’m making of it.

When you weary of Shannondale Springs, retrace your steps on Mission Rd. and return to Rt9. Head east on Rt9 and it will lead you back to Leesburg. Head west and you will end up in Charlestown, West Virginia.

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