LOCAL HISTORY: Upcoming Summer Events Celebrate Area’s Rich Historical Heritage


The tri-state area contains an abundance of historic and cultural sites. As summer begins, a full slate of seasonal events will celebrate that rich heritage at interesting locales in southern Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, and West Virginia’s panhandle. These occasions are hosted by scenic towns throughout the region, including jewels such as Gettysburg, Shepherdstown, and Waynesboro.

The events listed below are entertaining portals leading to further study about people, cultures, and the local lore they created during America’s eventful past. These historical programs are often complimented by modern touches including appetizing food and drink, live music, and local art. These happenings are listed in order of appearance. But all these towns and historic sites are worthy of a daytrip or weekend excursion at any time of year.


Fort Loudoun harkens back to Pennsylvania’s frontier days. This fortification experienced its heyday from 1756 to 1765 during the French and Indian War period. For the Market Fair event, one of the largest of its kind in the Commonwealth, the area around Fort Loudoun is transported back in time to an 18th century village with reenactors, colonial craft vendors, period speakers, music, and presentations. Event hours are 9 am to 5 pm June 21-22, and 9 am to 2 pm on Sunday, June 23. Admission is $5 for adults and children under 17 enjoy free entry.

The fort is a Pennsylvania State Historic Site and located at 1720 North Brooklyn Rd in Fort Loudon PA. For more information, visit www.fortloudounpa.com, email ([email protected]), or call 717-815-5545.


Shepherdstown is a charming community situated along the winding Potomac River. The town was chartered in 1762, making it one of the oldest in modern-day West Virginia. Many of its downtown buildings were built before the Revolutionary War, and the Historic Shepherdstown Museum has developed a walking tour to help visitors enjoy these architectural marvels: shepherdstown.info/colonial-history/. Shepherd College is also located here among restored homes and historical venues.

Street Fest is a perfect time to visit Shepherdstown, this free event is one of the finest regional art and craft festivals, with live music and multiple food venues active from 10 am to 8:30 pm (shepherdstownstreetfest.org).


Fort Frederick offers fascinating tales dating back to America’s colonial days. The massive stone fort was built in 1756 and served multiple functions during its long history. The restored fortification is now a Maryland State Park and offers year-round events that educate and inspire visitors. On July 1-7, from 10am to 5 pm each day, the park’s staff will celebrate America’s birthday by interpreting Fort Frederick’s role as a Revolutionary War prisoner camp. Programs include musket firing demonstrations, uniform and clothing exhibitions, cooking demonstrations, and related fort history. Fort Frederick is located at 11100 Fort Frederick Rd in Big Pool, MD. For more information call the park office: 301-842-2155 or visit online: www.dnr.maryland.gov.

The 2024 Gettysburg Battle Reenactment commemorates the 161st anniversary of that epic event


Gettysburg is America’s most famous small town. The charming community is known for the epic Civil War battle that erupted there in July, 1863, an eventual Northern victory which many believe saved the Union. The National Park Service has preserved the battlefield where many soldiers lost their lives, and this hallowed ground is dotted with ornate monuments and memorials to heroic deeds. The town has a number of museums and other venues. They interpret both the battle and President Abraham Lincoln’s famed visit to deliver the iconic Gettysburg Address.

This year marks the 161st anniversary and the Battle of Gettysburg Reenactment takes place at the Daniel Lady Farm (1008 Hanover Road, Gettysburg) on July 6th and 7th. The two-day event features a living history village, speakers, military demonstrations, tours, and a spectacular battle reenactment. Admission to this event ranges from $15-50. Visit www.danielladyfarm.com/events for tickets or more information.

Monocacy Battlefield anniversary event recalls a dramatic Union victory that protected Washington DC


Monocacy Battlefield’s beautiful landscape straddles a river by the same name east of Frederick, MD. The 1864 historic Civil War event is called the battle that saved Washington, DC. The Confederates planned an attack on the capitol city to create chaos and influence the 1864 election. But Federal troops fought gallantly to avoid a wartime catastrophe. Today, this land is administered by the National Park Service, preserving an important tract in American history.

The three-day anniversary event features a variety of programs including Ranger-led caravans, hikes, artillery and infantry demonstrations, and other interpretive agendas. Visit www.nps.gov/mono/planyourvisit to learn more about the weekend schedule.

While in the area, a visit to downtown Frederick offers stately architecture and other historical venues (including the National Museum of Civil War medicine) that tie into this important period.

Chambersburg recreates the infamous Civil War burning every July


July 30, 1864 is an infamous date in Chambersburg’s history. On that day, this Franklin County town became the only northern community ransomed and burned during the Civil War. Over 500 downtown buildings were destroyed, leaving 2000 people homeless. Despite that awful memory, Chambersburg PA decided to recreate that historic tragedy with this yearly “Burning of Chambersburg” event, thereby showing the town’s resilience by rising from its own ashes.

This unique event brings that unforgettable day to life, 160 years later, through atmospheric techniques, lighting, and actors, to convey in vivid detail how Chambersburg suffered, but also to commemorate the town’s rebirth in a charred aftermath. The event is free and takes place downtown. Go to www.explorefranklincountypa.com to learn more.

A related art exhibition titled “Heroes and Angels” will open 10 am on July 20 at the Franklin County Historical Society at 175 E King St. in Chambersburg.

Harpers Ferry is the site of John Brown’s famous raid in 1859


Many historians consider John Brown’s Harpers Ferry raid as the burning match that lit a combustible fuse, igniting the American Civil War. Today, this scenic West Virginia town is an authentic time capsule into frantic October 16, 1859 moments that eventually led to a deadly four-year conflict between North and South.

Harpers Ferry is perched on a commanding hill, overlooking a two-river vista that Thomas Jefferson said was “worthy of a voyage across the Atlantic”. This town is a must-see for travelers interested in history or who love nature. The National Park service interprets various sites here, along with many private venues for history, dining, and recreation.

On July 27 from 3 to 5:30 pm, “The Raid: Minute by Minute” program will take place at the Allies for Freedom Room inside John Brown Museum in Harpers Ferry. Brown’s incendiary 1859 attack on the town’s Federal Arsenal will be recreated in 36-hour time window. For more information, visit www.harpersferryhistory.org/events, or call the park office: 304-535-6029.

Renfrew Museum and Park highlights Waynesboro’s agricultural and architectural legacies


Renfrew Museum and Park is a Waynesboro cultural treasure. The manor house and barn are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and this scenic property traces a long agricultural legacy in Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley. Renfrew hosts a variety of programs attesting to the region’s early German settlers’ significant achievements. This includes farm and house tours, a first-class museum with native pottery and farm implements, and many seasonal events that cultivate inspiration.

On August 6th and 9th, a Farmstead Tour and Taste will offer guests a unique experience through a farm-to-table dining event. Participants will sample seasonal local-sourced fare that reflects traditions of a historic German farmstead. Servers in authentic early 19th century clothing will enhance the lunch experience, held from 11 am to 2 pm inside a restored Victorian barn. Renfrew is located at 1010 East Main Street, Waynesboro. For tickets or more information, visit www.renfrewmuseum.org/tasteandtour/, or call 717-762-4723.

The Conococheague Institute has numerous rustic and historic structures that interpret PA colonial times


The Conococheague Institute is a 30-acre site in Franklin County PA that brings colonial history to life. The property is a hands-on learning center headquartered at historic Rock Hill Farm. This site includes two house museums with outbuildings, relocated log structures, a research library, several period gardens, and walking trails with access to a pioneer cemetery. The Institute’s mission is fostering awareness, understanding, and stewardship of cultural and natural history of the Appalachian frontier in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.

A program titled “Poems, Plays, and Performances” will be held Saturday, June 15, from 10 am to 4 pm. Additional programs this summer are scheduled during the same Saturday hours. The Conococheague Institute offers a Visitor Center, resources for birdwatchers, and a Summer Camp for children aged 6-13 from July 16-19. For more information visit: www.cimlg.org or call 717-328-2800. The Conococheague Institute is located at 12995 Bain Road in Mercersburg PA.

In total, these events are a snapshot of interesting programs, many tailored for local history lovers, occurring this summer. As a group they encourage tri-state adventures that teach new lessons about a region filled with antique stories, hundreds of years in the making.

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