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Support Improved Potomac River Access at Harpers Ferry (WV/VA/DC)

Posted: 06/02/2019
By: Kevin Colburn

A local planning agency has championed a study of the Weverton access site just downstream of Harpers Ferry. This site is an important Potomac river put-in/takeout site for Shenandoah and Potomac River paddlers who have few access options in the area. At issue is an informal crossing of the two-track CSX railroad used by almost 27,000 paddlers, Appalachian Trail hikers, and visitors to the C&O Canal National Historical Park last year. The study outlines two options to formalize this access site and improve the safety of crossing the railroad tracks. Either option would be a big improvement, as would a normal public road and sidewalk crossing, and paddlers are encouraged to submit a supportive comment by the June 15 deadline. 

The first proposed solution is a relatively simple at-grade crossing. Visitors would be aided by signals and automated gates to walk safely across the tracks when trains are not approaching. The second proposed option is a hiking and biking overpass that would allow visitors to walk up a ramp and cross over the tracks on a footbridge.

We encourage paddlers to share their thoughts and preferences, but the important message to share with the planners is that the paddling community will support either solutionand that the only unacceptable outcome would be to do nothing. American Whitewater also feels that they should consider putting in a normal signaled road and sidewalk crossing, which are ubiquitous nationwide and are relatively cheap and easy to build, and easy to secure permits for.

The study cites a River Access Plan for the area that American Whitewater, the National Park Service, Canoe Cruisers Association, and many other organizations worked hard to produce. This plan calls on all landowners and planners to work together to improve river access in the vicinity of Harpers Ferry. While paddlers may prefer river access be provided at other more ideal locations like Sandy Hook or in Harpers Ferry, this is an opportunity to secure and improve an important site recommended in our plan. 

Review the DRAFT Weverton Railroad Crossing Feasibility Study

Read a recent news article summarizing the Study

TAKE ACTION BY JUNE 15: Submit a positive comment thanking the planning agency for conducting the study, sharing your opinions about the proposed solutions, and encouraging action on either proposed solution. Questions and all written comments should be directed to Matt Mullenax, To comment online visit:

Associated Projects

Harpers Ferry River Access (WV/VA/MD)

A collaborative effort to identify and deliver on opportunities to enhance river access on the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers near Harpers Ferry, WV.

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