Such an admirable site for mills, tanneries, and other industries, was not to be found every day.... And so they began, with the industry of beavers, to erect their mills, dwellings, forges, tanneries, shops, schools and meeting houses; brought their wives and children; were followed by their friends and neighbors, and it was done: the village of Mecklenburg...was established, and growing fast into one of the most important towns of the Valley.
Danske Dandridge (1854-1914), Shepherdstown poet and historian.
A Short History of West Virginia's Oldest Town
In 1734, Thomas Shepherd received a land grant, located on the south side of the Potomac River, near Pack Horse Ford, an early river crossing point. The town was chartered in 1762 as Mecklenburg in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, wife of King George III. The name would be changed to Shepherd's Town in 1798 to honor the town's founder.
Thomas Swearingen established a ferry service here in 1755.
In 1775, in response to a call from Gen. George Washington, 100 riflemen from Shepherdstown and vicinity made a "Beeline March" to Massachusetts, covering 600 miles in 24 days.
The first newspaper and book in what would become the state of West Virginia were published here in the 1790's. The first West Virginia post office was
opened here in 1792.
Shepherdstown was occupied by both Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War. In 1862, following the Battle of Antietam, just a few miles away, the town cared for several thousand wounded Confederate soldiers.
Shepherd College was incorporated here in 1871, becoming part of the State Normal School system in 1872. It was located in what is now known as McMurran Hall in the center of town.
In 1866, the first Freedmen's school for young black citizens was opened at the SE corner of Church and High Streets.
In 1926, the town library opened in the former market, jail, and fire house.
Shepherdstown was the site of the 2000 Syrian-Israeli peace talks.
Scan here for a walking tour of historic Shepherdstown [QR Code on marker]
Historic Shepherdstown Museum
Opened in 1983, the Historic Shepherdstown Museum is housed in the old Entler Hotel buildings, which date to the late 18th century. Once the finest lodging and dining establishment in Shepherdstown, the Entler later served as a Shepherd College men's dormitory and warehouse. On the verge of collapse, it was deeded over to the town, leased to the Historic Shepherdstown Commission, and lovingly restored by local citizens over an 11-year period.
The Museum's collections include locally crafted 18th and 19th century furniture, tall clocks, and silver and copper artifacts. The second and third floors include a circa 1840 hotel room and rooms dedicated to Civil War Shepherdstown, and early Shenandoah Valley arts and crafts.
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The Washington Heritage Trail in West Virginia
The Washington Heritage Trail meanders through the three counties of West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle offering a rich timeline of American history that includesa colonial spa town, early industrial sites, railroad landmarks and Civil War locations. The footsteps of America's first president are particularly prominent and inspired creation of the 136-mile National Scenic Byway. Much of the trail follows two historic east/west passageways into America's first frontier: the Potomac River and the historic Alexandria to Warm Springs Road which is today's WV9 crossing the Panhandle.