HARPERS FERRY - John Brown's Fort has been around.
From Harpers Ferry to the 1891 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, to the Murphy Farm outside Harpers Ferry in 1895, to the campus of Storer College in Bolivar in 1909, to its current location in the historic downtown of Harpers Ferry where it has sat since 1968, the former fire engine house has been around.
One more move is needed, though - the move to bring the 35-foot by 24-foot brick structure back to its original site, Dennis Frye told a bus load of Civil War enthusiasts during a tour of several historic sites in Harpers Ferry and Bolivar.
"We have the opportunity to move it to its original site," Frye said. "The move may begin this year. It's depend on funding."
Oct. 16-18 will mark the 150th anniversary of John Brown's Raid. Several commemorative events are planned throughout the year to observe the sesquicentennial of what some call the beginning of the Civil War.
Frye is Harpers Ferry National Historical Park's chief of interpretation, education, cultural resources and partnerships. Thursday morning, he escorted participants in a joint meeting of the West Virginia and Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War commissions held at the Mather Training Center.
Now, the sole surviving structure of the U.S. Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry can be found about 75 yards from where it stood on Oct. 16, 1859, when John Brown and his band of fanatical abolitionists invaded the town, Frye explained.
However, the park's newly adopted general management plan calls for "bringing the fort back to its home," he said.
The property of the original site of the engine house was obtained in 2001, Frye said in a telephone interview Friday.
"A trade for the property was executed with CSX Railroad for government property near Cumberland, Md.," he said.
Harpers Ferry was picked by President George Washington to be the home of the United States' second armory and arsenal, where muskets, rifles and pistols were made for the U.S. army. The factory was destroyed during the Civil War.
After the war, the B&O Railroad bought the property, raising the level of the ground to the same elevation as the railroad's property on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, Frye said. The armory site was filled with the rubble from the B&O tunneling through Maryland Heights, he said.
An obelisk now sits atop a "non-historical" embankment several feet high marking the actual spot where the engine house stood at the time of John Brown's Raid.
Brown's plan was to capture the armory and distribute the weapons stored there to an army of escaped slaves. Led by Brown, the fighters would campaign through the south, freeing slaves as they went.
His plan failed miserably. He and several of his raiders, including his sons, who fought by his side, were chased into the engine house and surrounded by local militia until U.S. Marines, under the command of then-Col. Robert E. Lee, arrived from Washington.
The Marines stormed the engine house capturing Brown, who was seriously wounded during the fight. Surviving his injuries, he was taken to Charles Town to be tried for treason.
Brown was found guilty and hanged in Charles Town in December 1859.