With so many things to do in and around Sharpsburg, it can be hard to fit everything into three days. To make your trip-planning a bit easier, we’ve put together the perfect Sharpsburg itinerary that’ll make you want to extend your stay. You’ll definitely want to make this an annual trip!
Day 1 in Sharpsburg
The first thing you need to do before heading out is fuel up. Indulge in our country-style breakfast which guests proclaim ‘will fill you up so you can slide right past lunch”. The first morning you can expect one of our specialties like a loaded veggie frittata or maybe a stack of lemon ricotta pancakes. The main course is always accompanied by a protein side such as our signature apple-maple sausage, thick-sliced bacon or cherry-wood smoked ham. After this breakfast experience, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running!
Your first day is dedicated to staying local and taking in the history. One of the best ways to experience the pristine Antietam National Battlefield is on a private tour with an Antietam Battlefield Guide. Your certified tour guide will lead you across the hallowed ground of Antietam so you can understand why it was a major turning point in the war.
After your tour, you will probably still be full from breakfast, but who doesn’t like something to snack on. Going to Nutter’s Ice Cream is a MUST while you’re staying at the Inn. With over 32 flavors of hand-dipped and soft served ice cream you will get a very generous portion for a ridiculously affordable price.
After your ice cream break head down the road to the Pry House Field Hospital Museum. The Philip Pry farmstead was an eyewitness to the Battle of Antietam. It was transformed from an army headquarters to a field hospital within 24 hours. Here you’ll see exhibits relating to the care of wounded, the effects on the civilian population in the area and the innovations in Civil War medicine, which continue to save lives today. To wrap up your day stop by the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum to learn about our local history. The museum takes you back to a time when the pace was a bit slower and life centered around the farm, family, and community. See what life was like in Washington County, MD prior to 1940.
Since we’re staying local today, you’ll have plenty of time to take a break back at the Inn before heading to dinner. This evening we recommend taking a short stroll down the street to Captain Bender’s Tavern. The tavern is our towns version of “Cheers”. Steve, the owner, and his crew make you feel at home. They have a great menu filled with appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and specialty drinks (Be sure to try the Pickle Fries).
Day 2 in Sharpsburg
Your second Jacob Rohrbach Inn breakfast will be a whole new adventure as different entrees are served every day. If you enjoyed a sweet breakfast your first day, you will get a savory one on your second, and vice versa. Alongside our freshly baked scones and fruit course you might be served a Cheesy Egg Scramble or some Caramelized French Toast. You’ll have a selection of juices to choose from so you’ll always have a different experience!
For Day 2, we’re heading to West Virginia! (Don’t worry it’s just three miles away.) First, lets head down to Harpers Ferry. The Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Taking a stroll along the picturesque streets of Harpers Ferry is like stepping into the past. The Lower Town offers a number of museums, exhibits and historic sites for visitors to see with quaint little shops and restaurants located nearby. You’ll definitely work up an appetite walking around Harpers Ferry so stop at the Anvil Restaurant. The Anvil is a cozy outpost specializing in crab dip, onion soup & other hearty dishes in a low-key setting. Head back up to Shepherdstown for a little more sidewalk shopping. Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia and is filled with boutiques and specialty stores like O’Hurley’s General Store, Four Seasons Books and Grapes & Grains Gourmet.
There are a surprising number of dining choices in Shepherdstown for Day 2. Whether it’s casual, ethnic, cosmopolitan or locally grown fare you are sure to find something for your taste and budget. For our two favorites, you can choose a farm to table dinner at Domestic, or upscale contemporary American dishes at The Press Room.
Day 3 in Sharpsburg
After a great night’s rest and another wonderful breakfast, you’re ready to venture out on Day 3 of your vacation. Today you’ll take a break from all of the hustle and bustle of the history and shopping and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Rent a couple of bikes at the Inn and enjoy the morning biking the C&O Canal. This scenic tree-lined path will lead you past historic ruins, cliffs and caves along the Potomac River. Shady biking conditions make this trip a great option for those hot summer days. In the fall the trail becomes radiant with the colors of changing leaves. Pick up a picnic lunch and head up to South Mountain to hit the Appalachian Trail. Whether you’re looking for some scenic beauty and wildlife, a taste of history, or a little exercise, the A.T. offers all these things and much more. Two ideal spots for your picnic on the trail are at the Washington Monument State Park or the Gathland State Park.
Wrap up your afternoon by taking a break at our newest winery – Antietam Creek Vineyards! This 55-acre farm is adjacent to the Antietam National Battlefield and the grapes are grown, processed, aged, and blended at the vineyard. Be sure to say hello to Joan & George (the owners) and enjoy your wine tasting.
For your final night treat yourself to some fine dinning. Old South Mountain Inn is a beautiful, historic restaurant poised atop South Mountain at Turner’s Gap. Specializing in Prime Rib, Beef Wellington and Fresh Seafood Old South Mountain provides the perfect dining experience for celebrating special occasions or to just enjoy a nice evening out. Another fine dining choice is the Bavarian Inn, known for its German cuisine and American fare. The Bavarian sits overlooking the Potomac River at Shepherdstown and offers both a formal dining experience in the Greystone Manor or a more casual atmosphere in the Rathskeller.
If you still have energy for one more activity that evening take a Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour. These tours are based on the lives of Sharpsburg citizens who lived through the Battle of Antietam. Mark and Julia Brugh will take you through the Confederate Soldiers’ Passageway or the Children’s Alley as they explain the ghostly images that still linger in the town, possibly remnants of souls who never crossed over.
In between all of these local excursions, you’ll need to rest and recharge. This is essential because you’ll need the energy! Enjoy the tranquility of relaxing on your porch, listening to the chirping birds and enjoy the views of the gardens.
The Jacob Rohrbach Inn is an 1800s-era restored Inn and the only one in Sharpsburg. Make your stay a memorable one with the Jacob Rohrbach Inn and plan your small town getaway today!
The one farm house on the Antietam Battlefield that looks the same as it did on September 17, 1862 is the Sherrick House. When you stand in front of the house and hold up the historic photograph taken of the farmstead, it’s as if you traveled back in time. The photo captures the Sherrick Farmstead; the bank barn, out buildings, fences, garden and the unique brick house. Looking at it you can imagine what life was like on the farm.
The property we now know as the Sherrick Farm was once part of the Smith’s Hills patent that was granted to James Smith on January 26, 1756. As the French and Indian War was ending, Christian Orndorff, a millwright from Lancaster County, arrived in the area in 1762. Orndorff purchased 503 acres from James Smith along the Antietam Creek. Of course, Christian Orndorff would establish a successful milling operation at the location of the Middle Bridge on what is known today as the Newcomer Farm. Prior to his death in 1797, Christian Orndorff divided his holdings among his sons Christopher, Christian and Henry.
Over the years as the milling industry grew along the Antietam Creek. That prosperity drew more and more migration from Pennsylvania. In 1796, Joseph Sherrick, his wife Barbara Hertzler and their young daughter also named Barbara, left Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with his brother-in-law Jacob Mumma and his family. The traveled down the Wagon Road to Sharpsburg. Joseph’s grandfather was also named Joseph but the last name was spelled Shrek or Schurgh. Born in Switzerland, Joseph and his wife Catherine “left Rotterdam Harbor, Holland in early July on the ship James Goodwill, commanded by David Crockatt, and arrived at Philadelphia on September 27, 1727″. From Philadelphia, they moved to Hempfield Township, Lancaster County. It was here that the Sherrick family became friends with the Mumma’s, the Hertzler’s and many other families that would move southwest into the Antietam Valley.
Once they arrived to the Antietam Valley, Jacob Mumma would purchase over 300 acres from Christopher Orndorff which included the site of the mill, while Joseph Sherrick purchased the adjoining property to the south, 194 acres from Christopher’s brother, Henry Orndorff.
According to the 1796 deed that land may already have been established as a farm. In the deed there is reference to existing “houses, outhouses, barn, fields, woods, under woods, meadows, orchards, hereditaments and appurtenances“, and there is reference to a “water ditch that is made for the use of watering the meadow.” That ditch was the Town Run, a small stream that ran down from Sharpsburg, past another mill through the farm as it made it’s way to the Antietam Creek. The Sherrick’s most likely stayed with the Mumma’s until they could establish their home on the property the following year, but it’s presumed that a log or timber frame structure served as their house. Soon after setting up the home, Joseph and Barbara would have two more children, Jacob born in 1798 and Joseph, Jr. in 1801.
Tragedy stuck the Sherrick family a few years later when Barbara Hertzler Sherrick died at the aged of 37 in 1804 leaving Joseph, Sr. with three children. She was buried at a nearby cemetery that would become known as the Mumma Cemetery. Needing a wife and a mother to raise his children, Joseph, Sr. married Barbara Mumma, Jacob’s sister.
In 1833, the Washington County Commissioners contracted John Weaver to select a location to construct a bridge over the Antietam Creek on the Sharpsburg and Maple Swamp Road. This road traversed Sherrick’s land along the Town Run to the Antietam. Weaver selected a site near the edge of Sherrick’s southern property line, most likely due to the the fact that limestone could be quarried off the hillside. The bridge was completed by 1836 for a cost of $2,300. Soon after it’s completion the Sherrick’s constructed a stone wall on the east side of the creek.
Joseph, Sr., subsequently enlarged the farm by purchasing additional nearby parcels of land in 1821, 1826, and 1833. On April 15, 1828, young Joseph, Jr. married Sarah Hamm. It’s believed that young Joseph and Sarah ventured west to Ohio according to the 1830 census. Their stay in Ohio was not long-lived and by 1836 the young couple had returned home with a daughter, Mary Anna. Joseph, Jr purchased tracts of property around the family farm and in 1838 he acquired the land owned by his father.
It is around this time that the home the Sherricks had been living in for over thirty years was replaced with the brick structure we see today. Like their neighbors across the Antietam, the Pry’s, this new house reflected the “most current trends in architectural design, incorporating vernacular elements of Greek revival style of the 1830’s”. The Sherrick’s house would be very unique, it was built into the slope much like their traditional Pennsylvania bank barn but it was also constructed over a fresh water spring. This fresh water flowed into a spring room in the sub-basement. Water could be drawn from the spring room to a kitchen just above in the basement. Also in the basement was a large fireplace and an adjoining room that was used as a small pantry.
The first floor consisted of a dining room, parlor, bedroom, a servery and large stair hall. The impressive hall included a “wide entry door, crowned by a divided transom”, “high ceilings, gracious moldings, and wood grained doors”. But the staircase was the most striking, as the broad staircase lead to a landing, “The risers of these stairs and the baseboard moldings throughout the hall were painted to look like marble, a technique common during the Greek revival period”. (This style was replicated in the foyer at the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.) Three bedrooms and a nursery were on the second floor and another unique aspect included service stairs from the nursery to the servant room and down to the kitchen. The Sherrick house “was one of the most well appointed farmhouses in the Sharpsburg area”.
Behind the house was their 1 1/2 story brick summer kitchen with a large hearth fireplace, bake oven and a staircase to the upper story where meats were hung. A stone-built smokehouse was located just behind the summer kitchen and was probably built as a “dependency of the original Sherrick house’. The large 45′ x 90′ Pennsylvania-style bank barn sat on the hill beyond the house. This was the original barn that was constructed by either Henry Orndorff or Joseph Sherrick, Sr. between 1790 – 1800. On the northwest side of the barn was a fenced 2-acre orchard and adjoining garden. A number of other outbuildings and structures were on the property but today there is only evidence of a few.
The Sherrick farm prospered over the next decade. According to the 1850 census the farm was valved at $12,000. The Sherrick’s were members of the German Baptist Brethren or “Dunker” congregation. The Dunkers had been meeting in the private home of Daniel Miller, the father of Elizabeth Miller Mumma. In 1851, Samuel Mumma donated a small plot of land at the edge of a woodlot that would become known as the West Woods. Daniel Miller, Samuel Mumma and Joseph Sherrick supervised the construction of the new church. It was constructed with hand-made clay bricks from John Otto, Joseph Sherrick’s neighbor.
In May, 1858, Mary Anna Sherrick married Victor Newcomer, a merchant. The following year they would have their first child and continue to live with her parents. According to the 1860 Census, the family was still residing on the farm. A young female servant named Ellen Ward and Samuel Gift, a farm hand lived at there as well.
Around this time Joseph Sherrick retired from farming and leased the farm to a young man named Leonard Emmert. “At that time, the farm consisted of 200 improved acres and 20 unimproved acres and was valued at $14,000. Livestock was valued at $500. During the year ending that June, the farm produced 1,500 bushels of wheat, 20 bushels of rye, 1,000 bushels of Indian corn, 150 bushels of oats, 100 pounds of wool, 50 bushels of potatoes, $20 in orchard products, 500 pounds of butter, 25 tons of hay, and 12 bushels of clover seed”. It is unsure where the Sherrick family moved to, possibility Boonsboro, but Leonard Emmert was still leasing the farm in the fall of 1862.
On the morning of September 15, 1862, Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee were falling back from their defeat at South Mountain. But when Lee reached the Antietam Creek he stopped. His small army went into a defensive mode around the town of Sharpsburg in order to wait for the rest of Lee’s men under General Stonewall Jackson to arrive from Harpers Ferry. Near the Sherrick farm, Confederates under General David R. Jones’ division were positioned. By the Rohrbach Bridge just down the road from the farmstead a Rebel brigade was posted on the heights above the bridge and along creek to prevent Union forces from easily crossing. They were supported by Confederate artillery on hilltop across the Otto farm and on Cemetery Hill. Confederate skirmishers were stationed across the fields waiting for the pending battle.
The battle on September 17 began at daybreak, but it seemed that it was happening to the north of Sharpsburg with the exception of the artillery batteries dueling back and forth. About mid-morning, the Union Ninth Corps under General Ambrose Burnside began their assault against the Confederates to take the bridge and cross the Antietam Creek. The Rebel forces were able to hold off the Federals for about three hours before they finally gave way and withdrew to the high ground along the Sherrick farm lane. To the north of the Sherrick house Union forces crossed over the Middle Bridge at the Newcomer or Mumma Mill and began pressing skirmishers and artillery forward.
By 3:00 pm, the Union Ninth Corps was across the Antietam and in position to began their assault against the Confederate right. The Union battle line stretched for almost a mile, from the Sherrick’s 40-acre cornfield in the south, to the Otto farm, across the Rohrbach Bridge Road and through the Sherrick farm. Burnside’s right flank tied into elements of the Union Fifth Corps as they advanced up the Boonsboro Pike through Sherrick’s fields north of the farmstead. The 79th New York Infantry advanced in a double line of skirmishers across the farm as they spearheaded the advance of Colonel Benjamin Christ’s brigade. When the 79th New York reached the Sherrick house and outbuildings they met stiff resistance from South Carolinian’s in an apple orchard and around the building of the Solomon Lumm mill. Heavy artillery fire from Rebel guns on Cemetery Hill stalled the advance as Christ deployed his three other regiments to move west across the Sherrick farm.
With support from Union artillery batteries, Christ advanced as Col. Thomas Welsh’s brigade pushed up the Sharpsburg Road to his left, dislodging the Confederates, forcing them to withdraw. As Welsh’s men continued to fight their way to the outskirts of town, the far right flank of the Ninth Corps line was being stuck by General A.P. Hill’s Confederate troops in the middle of the 40-acre cornfield. With the line slowing collapsing and men running low on ammunition, the Union troops were forced to fall back to their starting point.
Union causalities were being treated at the Sherrick and Otto farms as ambulances evacuated the wounded further to the rear to field hospitals at the Rohrbach and the J.F. Miller farms back across the Antietam. As the sun set on September 17, both sides settled in posting pickets in and around the Sherrick farm. Neither side renewed the battle on the 18th but there was substantial picket firing throughout the day. That evening the Confederates withdrew across the Potomac and Union forces moved into Sharpsburg. One young Union soldier, Private R.G. Carter of the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry wrote about the scene at the Sherrick house.
“the sun came out bright and beautiful … The enemy had now, it was soon discovered, left our front … Upon visiting Sherrick’s house this morning, we found it quite a sumptuous affair. It had been hastily evacuated, as it was between the lines. The foragers ahead of us had pulled out what edibles it contained, and among them a splendid assortment of jellies, preserves, etc., the pride of every Maryland woman’s heart, but now scattered all about. The orchard was filled with the choicest fruit. What a feast! Our stomachs just beginning to become accustomed to “salt horse” and “hard tack,” earnestly opened and yearned for this line of good things. No crowd of schoolboys, Let loose from the confinement of a recitation room, ever acted so absurdly, as did these rough, bronzed soldiers and recruit allies, on that death-strewn ground about Sherrick’s yard and orchard. They would seize a pot of jam, grape jelly, huckleberry stew, or pineapple preserve, and after capering about a while, with the most extravagant exhibitions of joy, would sit upon the ground, and with one piece of hard bread for a plate, and another for a scoop, would shovel out great heaps of the delectable stuff, which rapidly disappeared into their capacious mouths …
The buildings did not suffer much structural damage but the crops were ruined, and soldiers from both sides pillaged personal possessions. Joseph Sherrick claimed damage to his home of $8 from an artillery shell and $1,351 in damages from occupying Federal troops. According to a letter written by Jacob Miller in October 1862, the Otto and Sherrick farms were full of encamped troops. Miller noted that he had sown nine acres of wheat on his land and if not for the army’s presence, he would have been able to sow upwards of a hundred acres. The foraging of Union soldiers immediately after the battle caused more destruction to the Sherrick farm than the actual battle did. Although the Sherrick farm was not used as a hospital the fields and farmland became a burial ground for soldiers from both sides.
But the damage that the Sherrick farm received was nothing in comparison to their close friends, the Mumma family. Their house was deliberately set on fire by the Confederates and that fire bled to almost all the other buildings. Joseph opened the house up for Samuel and his family to reside until their home was rebuilt in June 1863.
By 1863, Joseph and his son-in-law Victor Newcomer were living in Funkstown about ten miles north of Sharpsburg. After the Mumma family moved back to their farm it is unsure who lived on the Sherrick farm. The property was most likely rented out to other tenant farmers. It’s also possible that in an attempt to recoup some of their financial losses the Sherrick’s sold some of their land holdings. That year following the battle, John Benner had been purchasing property from the Rohrbach family on the west side of the Antietam Creek. In 1866, Benner acquired 9 acres from Joseph and Sarah Sherrick for $730. A new farmstead was constructed there near the bridge and would be known as the Benner-Spong Farm.
Victor Newcomer continued to seek money for the damages long after Joseph died in 1871, but he received very little compensation from the Federal government. Joseph Sherrick, Jr. died on August 10, 1871. Almost three years to the day, Sarah passed away in 1874. Joseph and Sarah Sherrick are buried in the Mumma Cemetery, with Joseph’s parent and their friends the Mummas.
Over the next several decades the property remained in the Sherrick-Newcomer family, eventually being inherited by Anna Newcomer’s children, Frank S. Newcomer and Virginia S. Nicodemus. During this time, parcels were sold to both veteran’s associations and the Federal government for monument placements. In 1925 the property was purchased by James A. Dorsey. The property stayed in the Dorsey family until 1964 when the 186-acre Sherrick farm (known as the Dorsey tract) was sold to the National Park Service. The following year, as part of the Mission 66 project, work began on the Burnside Bridge Bypass Road. By redirecting local traffic past the Sherrick farm and off the bridge, the National Park Service was able to restore the bridge and complete an interpretive tour stop.
The Sherrick House remains as it was originally configured when it was build in 1835. The summer kitchen was restored and the stone walls have been rebuilt. Unfortunately the historic Sherrick barn was destroyed by fire in 1985, but the park service has been able to restore the foundation of the the barn. Today the farmstead is beautifully maintained by the National Park Service and you can hike the trails across the farmstead to the Burnside Bridge and walk the tour road around the Sherrick farm. Not only was the Sherrick Farmstead an eyewitness to the terrible fighting that occurred there, but it is a reminder of how the families of Antietam were connected for generations and how they survived the ordeal of war.
Ancestry.com, Joseph Sherrick Family, Census Data 1850-1880. Retrieved from: https://www.ancestry.com\
Biscoe, Thomas Dwight and Walt Stanley. The view from the Conf. side of Antietam Creek near Burnside Bridge looks probably about North,. DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, 1884. Retrieved from: http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/civ/id/132/rec/25
Civil War Talk. Sherrick House at Antietam Interior Photographs/Tour Retrieved from: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/sherrick-house-at-antietam-interior-photographs-tour.158270/
Carter, Robert Goldthwaite Four brothers in blue; or, Sunshine and shadows of the War of the Rebellion; a story of the great civil war from Bull Run to Appomattox. Washington, Press of Gibson Bros., Inc., 1913. Retrieved from: https://archive.org/details/cu31924032780623/page/n283/mode/2up/search/Antietam
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, Antietam, Maryland. Battlefield near Sherrick’s house where the 79th N.Y. Vols. fought after they crossed the creek. Group of dead Confederates, MD. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/cwpb.01112/
Maryland Historical Trust, Sherrick House, WA-II-334, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties Form, 1978.
Oehrlein & Associates Architects, Sherrick House Historic Structures Report. United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1995.
Reardon, Carol and Tom Vossler, A Field Guide to Antietam: experiencing the battlefield through history, places and people, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2016.
Schmidt, Alann and Terry Barklery. September mourn: the Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield, El Dorado Hill, CA: Savas Beatie LLC. 2018.Taggert, Thomas, Map of Washington County. L. McKee and C.G. Roberton, Hagerstown, Maryland 1859.
Summerfield, Mark. Sherrick House. Retrived from: http://msummerfieldimages.com/sherrick-farm/
U.S. National Park Service, Burnside Bridge Area Cultural Landscape Inventory, Antietam National Battlefield, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2016.
U.S. National Park Service, Burnside Bridge Area Cultural Landscape Report, Antietam National Battlefield, Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2018.
Walker, Kevin M., Antietam Farmsteads: A Guide to the Battlefield Landscape. Sharpsburg: Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010.
Wolfe, Robert and Janet. Robert and Janet Wolfe Genealogy – Joseph Sherk. Retrieved from: https://www-personal.umich.edu/~bobwolfe/gen/person/g5803.htm
U.S. War Department, Atlas of the battlefield of Antietam, prepared under the direction of the Antietam Battlefield Board, lieut. col. Geo. W. Davis, U.S.A., president, gen. E.A. Carman, U.S.V., gen. H Heth, C.S.A. Surveyed by lieut. col. E.B. Cope, engineer, H.W. Mattern, assistant engineer, of the Gettysburg National Park. Drawn by Charles H. Ourand, 1899. Position of troops by gen. E. A. Carman. Published by authority of the Secretary of War, under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 1908.” Washington, Government Printing Office, 1908. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3842am.gcw0248000/?sp=5.
During your visit to the Jacob Rohrbach Inn there are so many things to do, see, and experience. Here are our Top 25 Things to Do within 25 minutes of the Inn.
1. Take a guided tour of Antietam National Battlefield – One of the best ways to experience the pristine Antietam National Battlefield is on a private tour with a National Park Service certified guide. The Antietam Battlefield Guides will lead you across the hallowed ground of Antietam so you understand why it was a major turning point in the war. They can also take you on a campaign tour which includes Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Shepherdstown and other off the beaten path locations.
2. Tube the Antietam – Enjoy the day with a relaxing float down the Antietam Creek. Travel from the Devil’s Backbone and down past the Burnside Bridge and you’ll meander by some scenic farms, historic buildings and then drift under the old stone arched bridges of the Antietam.
3. Go Antiquing – If you’re looking for that rare, unique or special item than we have a few places to search. Try the Boonsboro Antiques, Memory Lane Antiques & Collectibles, Valley Antique & Uniques, The Olde Homestead and Beaver Creek Antique Market.
4. Take in Dinner and a Show at the Washington County Playhouse – Year-round you can experience a Broadway-style show or musical comedy with a buffet dinner at the Playhouse. A great place for ‘Date Night’.
5. Spend the day at Harpers Ferry – At the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, a walk through Harpers Ferry is like stepping into the past. Take a stroll along the picturesque streets, visit exhibits and museums, or hike the trails and battlefields.
6. Explore the Crystal Grottoes Caverns – The caverns offer a beautiful display of natural rock formations. Take the guided tour to learn about the cavern’s history and geology.
7. Learn about regional history at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum – Stop by the museum during your weekend stay and travel back to a time when the pace was a bit slower and life centered around the farm, family, and community. See what life was like in Washington County, MD prior to 1940.
8. Bike the C&O – This 185 mile path follows the Potomac River from Georgetown DC to Cumberland MD. Here the terrain is gentle, and along the scenic tree-lined path you will find historic ruins, cliffs and caves, and some good riverside picnic spots. Shady biking conditions make this trip a great option for those hot summer days. In the fall the trail becomes radiant with the colors of changing leaves. Rent your bikes at the Inn and enjoy the day biking the canal.
9. Visit Fort Frederick – Built in 1756 to protect settlers during the French and Indian War, the fort host a number of interpretive programs and events throughout the year. The park is a great place for an afternoon picnic and hike along the C & O Canal.
10. Stop by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts – Located in historic City Park in Hagerstown, the museum has over 7,000 works of art. The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts has been recognized as one of the finest small museums in the nation.
11. Explore Area Dining – Enjoy casual pub fare at Captain Benders Tavern, sit down with a farm to table dinner at Domestic, delight in upscale contemporary American dishes at The Press Room, or savor fine dining at Old South Mountain Inn. These are just a few of the many dining choices in the surrounding area. You will be sure to find a new ‘favorite’ restaurant during your stay!
12. Visit Gathland State Park – The park is located on the site of the Civil War Battle of South Mountain and was once the mountain home of George Alfred Townsend, a Civil War journalist. Two of the structures serve as a museum, one to Townsend and the other to the Civil War. The park is a great place for picnicking and hiking along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail which traverses the park and passes the monument base.
13. Go Horseback Riding with Elk Mountain Trails – Take a relaxing horse ride on the trails near historic Harpers Ferry, down on the banks of the Potomac River and along the C & O Canal. Plan ahead and sign up for their romantic Potomac River Moonlight Dinner Ride. After riding along the canal you’ll stop and have dinner around the campfire watching a full moon rise over the valley.
14. Eat Fresh and Buy Local at a Farmer’s Market – Shepherdstown has two Farmers’ Markets; Morgan’s Grove and Shepherdstown Farmers Market. Operating every weekend from early spring to early winter, they provide visitors with ample opportunities to engage in the local food and craft experience. Boonsboro also has two Farmer’s Markets, providing a variety of local fare. Boonsboro Farmers Market has great community and farming support offering ‘no spray’ fruits, grass fed meats and cheeses and vegan breads. For over 90 years the Cronise family at the Cronise Market Place has provided the freshest local fruits and vegetables, as well as gorgeous flowers, plants, decor and sweets.
15. Hike the A.T. – The Appalachian Trail in Maryland follows the ridgeline of South Mountain and you can access the trail at the Washington Monument State Park or from Gathland State Park. Whether you’re looking for some scenic beauty and wildlife, a taste of history, or a little exercise, the A.T. offers all these things and much more.
16. Go shopping at the Premium Outlets – If shopping is on your list of things to do during your stay, then stop by the Premium Outlets. Retailers range from jewelry to women’s apparel to sporting goods, with over 100 designer and name brand outlet stores including Banana Republic, Coach, Guess, Kate Spade New York, Tommy Hilfiger, Under Armour and more.
17. Enjoy Nutter’s Ice Cream – A stop at Nutter’s Ice Cream is a MUST while you’re staying at the Inn. With over 32 flavors of hand-dipped and soft served ice cream you will get a generous portion for a very affordable price. Be sure to go there hungry!
18. Take a Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour – The best attraction in town, next to the battlefield, is the Sharpsburg Civil War Ghost Tour. Based on of the lives of Sharpsburg citizens who lived through the Battle of Antietam. Mark and Julia Brugh will take you through the Confederate Soldiers’ Passageway or the Children’s Alley as they explain the ghostly images that still linger in the town, possibly remnants of souls who never crossed over.
19. Go rafting with River & Trails Outfitters or River Riders – Experienced guides will take you on an exciting trip down Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia come together. As you’re splashing through the white water rapids you’ll see some of the most breathtaking scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
20. Take the Antietam Highlands Wine Trail – Enjoy the day driving through the rolling hills of the Antietam Valley to each vineyard, like BIG Cork Vineyards or Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery . Don’t forget about visiting our favorite cidery; Distillery Lane Ciderworks. Sample their cider, pick your own apples or take a tour of the orchard. Be sure to stop by Sharpsburg’s newest vineyard – Antietam Creek Vineyards, located right at the edge of the Battlefield.
21. See Washington Monument State Park – Located atop South Mountain, Washington Monument State Park is named for the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington. Initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro in 1827, the rugged stone tower provides a magnificent vista to the valley below.
22. Witness the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum – The Philip Pry farmstead would be transformed from an army headquarters to a field hospital within 24 hours. See exhibits relating to the care of wounded, the effects on the civilian population in the area and the innovations of Civil War medicine, which continue to save lives today.
23. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is the place for a total entertainment experience, practically in our own backyard! Hollywood Casino has exciting Vegas-style casino gaming, first-class entertainment that is up close and personal, and live thoroughbred racing. Before heading back to the Inn, Hollywood has five restaurants that offer a variety of cuisine that is sure to satisfy.
24. Discover Discovery Station – This is a great stop for families. How can you go wrong with dinosaurs, Lego’s and airplanes… this hands-on museum allows youngsters to discover, explore, and investigate a wide variety of exhibits and programs that stimulate their curiosity and create lasting experiences.
25. Just relax at the Inn. After experiencing the first 24 activities on this list, you will be sure to appreciate the tranquility of relaxing on your porch, listening to the chirping birds and enjoying the views of the gardens.
Find Your Park
We continue the Find Your Park in our backyard series this month, featuring the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. The historic town of Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in West Virginia. Each year nearly 500,000 visitors come to experience the cultural and recreational attractions of Harpers Ferry.
Around 1750, Robert Harper, an early settler to the area was given a patent on 125 acres at the present location of the town. By 1761 he had established a ferry across the Potomac, which made the town a starting point for the flocks of settlers coming into the Shenandoah Valley and points west. In 1763, the Virginia General Assembly would establish the town of “Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper’s Ferry”. Robert Harper’s original house is the oldest remaining structure in the lower part of the park. The town grew as new Americans moved west, and in 1783 Thomas Jefferson visited Harpers Ferry. When he climbed to the heights overlooking the town he stood on a rock, which bears his name today, and was so impressed he wrote that, “this scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.
As a new nation looked to the West, the the power of the rivers came under the view of George Washington who choose Harpers Ferry as the site for a US Armory. With the construction of the US Armory and Arsenal the town quickly became an industrial center. In 1803 Meriwether Lewis traveled to Harpers Ferry to procure the weapons and equipment he would need for his transcontinental expedition. By the 1830’s both the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad had reached Harpers Ferry, connecting it with Washington D.C. and the growing cities to the west. Today visitors can explore the old US Armory site, see the remains of the Industrial Revolution along the Virginius and Halls Island trail and tour the Industry Museum.
As the nation grew so did the divide over slavery. In October 1859, abolitionist John Brown attempted to initiate an armed slave revolt by capturing the armory. Although Brown’s raid failed, the issue of slavery was brought to the forefront and would propel the country toward civil war. Due to its strategic location, Harpers Ferry would change hands several times between the North and the South during the war and it would play a significant role during the Maryland Campaign.
After the Civil War, Harpers Ferry would be in the front line of the civil rights movement. Storer College was founded on Camp Hill, as part of the Freedman’s Bureau, to help educate the thousands of freed African Americans. In 1906, Storer College would host a conference of the Niagara Movement, an effort to eliminate discrimination based on color. The Niagara Movement would lead to the foundation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) which continued the fight against discrimination and segregation. In 1955, Storer College would close its doors after the 1954 US Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case which ended public school segregation. Today the campus is used as a training center by the National Park Service, named in honor of its first director – Stephen Mather.
With over 20 miles of trails, Harpers Ferry is one of the best walking parks in America. Trails will take you through the restored town, along the scenic Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. From Harpers Ferry you can hop on the the C&O Canal Towpath to bike or just stroll along the river. Hikers can also pick up the Appalachian Trail for a day hike. The Lower Town offers a number of museums, exhibits and historic sites for visitors to see with great shopping and restaurants nearby.
Now get out and Find Your Park – Visit Harpers Ferry!
Find Your Park
This month we continue our Find Your Park in our backyard series, featuring the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. The C & O Canal is a pathway that spans 184.5 miles along the north bank of the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland. Each year over five million hikers, campers, bicyclists and history enthusiasts visit the C & O Canal NHP to discover its historical, natural and recreational treasures.
The idea for a canal along the Potomac River was first realized by none other than George Washington in the mid-1700’s as a young surveyor. He dreamed of connecting the tidewater of the Chesapeake with the Ohio Valley. However, Washington would have to wait until after the Revolutionary War to promote his idea which led to the creation of the Potowmack Canal Company and the building of skirting canals around the major falls on the river. This made the river navigable downstream, and in good conditions, but a more effective way was needed to navigate the Potomac.
In the 1820’s the Potowmack Canal Company transferred the rights to the new Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. Construction on the canal began July 4, 1828 when President John Quincy Adams turned the first spadeful of earth during ceremonies at Little Falls, Maryland. Over the next twenty-two years the construction of the C&O Canal would include 74 lift locks, 165 culverts, 11 aqueducts, 7 dams, and a canal tunnel. Financial difficulties, right-of-way disputes, floods, epidemics, and disputes among the workers delayed the construction of the canal. The canal was finally completed and opened on October 10, 1850 at Cumberland, Maryland. The total costs for the canal was more than 11 million dollars.
The canal was in operation from 1850 to 1924. Hundreds of canal boats, just 92 foot-long by 14 1/2 foot wide and pulled by teams of mules along the canal towpath, transported thousands of tons of coal, grain, and lumber. The average trip on the canal typically took about seven days. The fastest known time from Georgetown to Cumberland for a light boat was 62 hours, set by Raleigh Bender from Sharpsburg, MD. Today, Captain Bender’s Tavern, named in his honor, serves as the perfect meeting spot for locals, C & O Canal and Antietam Battlefield visitors
Construction of the C & O Canal reached the Sharpsburg area around 1836 and provided additional employment opportunities for the townspeople and the already flourishing commercial community. Many local families worked a boat on the canal and it required everyone to pitch in together to get the job done. Augustus and Minnie Hebb were one of those families. Augustus, better known as Gus, was the boat captain. Since his family was wasn’t big enough, Gus hired his brother Ira as part of the crew to help. The Hebb children were responsible for tending to the mules and cleaning the boat. They usually went to school only in the winter, when the boats weren’t operating. Years later, after the end of World War II, one of the Hebb children, Theodore (on the far right of the picture below) would purchase a house in Sharpsburg, which would later become the Jacob Rohrbach Inn.
Unfortunately, at the same time construction of the canal began, so to did work on America’s first railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio. Competition from the B&O Railroad and destructive floods eventually put the canal out of business.
In 1938 the entire canal was sold to the U.S. Government, which placed it under the supervision of the National Park Service. The Park Service did some restoration under the emergency work programs of the 1930s, but projects were halted when the United States entered the Second World War.
After the war there was talk of turning the canal into a vehicular parkway to ‘see’ the beauty and recreational opportunities of the Potomac River Valley. However, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, an avid outdoorsman, opposed this idea. He felt that the long-neglected canal, like the river, was rich in beauty, history, wildlife, and recreational opportunities and needed to be protected. Through his actions, Justice Douglas and other concerned citizens helped save the C&O Canal. In 1961 President Eisenhower proclaimed the canal a national monument and in 1971 Congress established the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
Guests at the Inn can access the canal at five nearby points:
- Taylor’s Landing at Mile 80.9
- Snyder’s Landing at Mile 76.8
- Shepherdstown / Lock #38 at Mile 72.8
- Millers Sawmill at Mile 70.7
- Antietam Campground & Aqueduct at Mile 69.4
Our two closest visitor centers at Williamsport and Ferry Hill Plantation are excellent wayside stops to see support structures of the canal’s operation and the small communities that once thrived alongside the canal.
Come join the millions of hikers, campers, bicyclists, and others that visit the C&O Canal to experience the rich history, wildlife, and geology of the Potomac Valley. From Georgetown to Cumberland, you can examine how the locks work, take rides in canal boats pulled by mules, and bike and walk along much of the canal’s 185 mile route.
Now get out and Find your Park – Visit the C & O Canal.
Find Your Park
This month we continue our Find Your Park in our backyard series, featuring the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, better known as the Appalachian Trail or just the A.T. by passionate hikers. The Appalachian Trail is a footpath that spans over 2,100 miles across of Appalachian Mountain Range from Georgia to Maine.
Almost 40 miles of the A.T. is right here in Maryland, and you can access it not far from the Inn. This tract follows the ridge line of South Mountain from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to Pen Mar Park at the Mason-Dixon Line in Cascade, MD. You will find some of the most impressive scenery in the state here.
The trail was first conceived in 1921 by a Harvard-educated forester named Benton MacKaye. His revolutionary idea was to create a linear park, or a retreat from urban life, in a wilderness belt extending from Maine to Georgia. Within a few years the Appalachian Trail Conservancy would be created and with the help of thousands of volunteers from hiking clubs, federal agencies and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the A.T. became reality in 1937. Today the trail is managed by the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies and thousands of volunteers.
Every year in the spring hundreds of people begin their “thru-hike” of the trail, meaning they hike the entire length of the trail in one season…. all 2,1oo plus miles! This endeavor takes four to six months, incredible stamina and a lot of planning. If you’re not ready for a “thru-hike” than our little piece of the trail is perfect for a day hike, a weekend backpacking trip or a scenic nature walk. The 40 miles located in Maryland is fairly easy to hike in comparison to the rest of the A.T. There are some rocky areas, a few steep climbs and the elevation change is just 1650 feet from the Potomac River with an elevation of 250′ to High Point at 1900′.
For the weekend backpacker there are several shelters and campsites spaced out along the trail about a day’s hike apart. If you are staying at the Inn and you want to get out for a great day-hike we have three recommended hikes: Greenbrier State Park to Annapolis Rock, from Greenbrier to Washington Monument State Park, and from Gathland State Park to Weverton Cliffs.
For the nature lover in each of us, the trail is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. These state parks are an excellent place to put-in on the trail and see all the flora and fauna that Maryland has to offer.
Some points of interest while on these hikes are:
- At Gathland State Park, you’ll find the War Correspondents Arch, a 50-foot-tall monument that honors Civil War correspondents.
- At the Washington Monument State Park, you’ll find the first monument dedicated to George Washington. This stone tower was built in 1827 by the residents of Boonsboro and offers great views to the east and west.
- Annapolis Rock is one of the most popular stops along the trail. On a clear day, the views from this lookout are spectacular. Annapolis Rock offers a vista of Greenbrier Lake and the Cumberland Valley.
- Finally, just before descending down the trail to the C & O Canal Towpath, Weverton Cliffs provides a beautiful 180 degree view of the Potomac River, with Harpers Ferry visible in the distance.
So whether you’re looking for some scenic beauty and wildlife, a taste of history, a little exercise, or just wanting to get away from it all, the A.T. offers all these things and much more.
Now get out and Find Your Park – Visit the Appalachian Trail!
Welcome Cyclists and Hikers, The Jacob Rohrbach Inn is located just off the C&O Canal Towpath, and is the ideal base-camp while exploring Maryland.
Eastbound we are 1.5 miles from Snyder’s Landing – mile 76.6 Westbound we are 3 miles from Antietam Aqueduct – mile 69.4 Just a short ride into town via quiet country roads or call for pickup! Check current towpath information and closures here.
Traveling along the canal, a highlight of your journey is the Antietam area near the halfway mark. The Antietam Battlefield preserves the hallowed ground at Sharpsburg, a tribute to our nation and an appropriate way to honor those who fought here on September 17, 1862 when over 23,000 men fell in battle, the bloodiest day in American history.
In the 1830’s the C&O canal was completed from Georgetown to Sharpsburg, and many Sharpsburg residents went to work for the canal company or operated canal boats. Snyders Landing at Sharpsburg had a warehouse and a tie-up where cargo was loaded and boats were wintered. On the towpath just downstream from Snyders Landing are several caves in the cliffs lining the river. In 1862 some Sharpsburg residents took shelter in Killiansburg Cave during the battle.
Captain Augustus Hebb and his family operated a canal boat from Sharpsburg for many years. In 1944, one of his children purchased the home now known as the Jacob Rohrbach Inn. In 1992, Ted Hebb, recalled his boyhood experiences growing up on the canal in a National Park Service interview. Today the canal towpath, where mule skinners once coaxed the boats along, is a 184 mile hiking/biking trail from Washington, DC to Cumberland, Maryland. A new trail, the Great Allegheny Passage, now allows continued travel through the Allegheny Mountains from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. For other accommodations along your route see BBBiking.com, a guide to bike-friendly bed & breakfast inns.
At Antietam’s Jacob Rohrbach Inn you will find:
- A warm welcome for the weary
- Complimentary beverages and homemade cookies
- Hearty full breakfasts included each day
- Beautiful quiet accommodations
- An area to clean and service your bikes
- Your bikes securely locked in our garage
- Restaurants, taverns, deli, ice cream parlor, bakery and convenience store within a few blocks
- Available laundry service
- Pick up/drop off service for Canal points between Williamsport and Harpers Ferry