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At Harpers Ferry, volunteers wage war on brush, barbed wire

April 08, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - For more than four hours Saturday, JoAnne Davis and several other volunteers joined with National Park Service staff to spruce up a little corner of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Sporting a big smile as well as a minor injury to her face, Davis said she thoroughly enjoyed all of the hard work. She pooh-poohed the injury, saying it was just a scratch.

Neither the wound nor the unseasonably cold and windy weather could put a damper on Davis' enthusiasm. The 900-mile trip by car from Orlando, Fla., didn't even faze her.

"I've got arthritis and osteoporosis, but still the work was worthwhile," Davis said.

A self-proclaimed Civil War nut, Davis said she never has been to Harpers Ferry before, but always wanted to come.

Davis said the book "The Perfect Steel Trap - Harpers Ferry 1859" by Bob O'Connor piqued her interest in the historical site, so she planned the trip after learning via e-mail of the call for volunteers for Saturday's cleanup day at the site.

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"I feel wonderful," Davis said as she concluded her Saturday labors. "(Today), I'm heading over to Antietam (National) Battlefield."

Recently retired from U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Davis said she has been enjoying a variety of activities, including visiting Civil War sites.

Pragami Babulal of Martinsburg, W.Va., also was involved in the cleanup of brush and old fence rows on the Ott Farm, which is off Bakerton Road between Harpers Ferry and Charles Town off U.S. 340.

"I was here last year, and wanted to come back to help again," Babulal said.

In 2005, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, and the National Park Service acquired the historic 70-acre Ott property on School House Ridge, the site of Stonewall Jackson's 1862 advance on Harpers Ferry during the Civil War.

The property now is protected as part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Much of the work on the property Saturday involved removing old barbed-wire fence sections and clearing brush.

Along with the volunteers, chain saws, hand tools and one piece of major equipment were used during the cleanup.

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