Finding Peace in Nature: Murphy Farm

“It is when we are in transition that we are most completely alive”

-William Bridges, American author

Dear Friend of WV Rivers,

Entropy. Change. Transition. Call it whatever you like, but one thing is for certain: it is hard.

No day quite embodies the spirit of change as this day that rolls around every four years – Inauguration Day. As we reflect on the importance of today, we must remember that transitions take time for both the process, and the subsequent healing and reconciliation, to occur. Let us accept the humanity of others, share in our struggles, and transition together.

This week, we explored a site that’s seen a few transitions of it’s own – Murphy Farm.

The view from Murphy Farm overlooking the Shenandoah River.

Murphy Farm is part of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, with a relatively easy 1.3-mile walking trail through fields and forests. Make sure to only visit during daylight hours as per Park rules, and as always – leave no trace, respect the sovereignty of the site, and follow all Park guidelines for social distancing.

Civil War history abounds at Murphy Farm, and cannot be understated. According to the Trust for Public Land“On its sloping fields in 1862, Confederate General A.P. Hill forced the surrender of 12,000 Union troops and concluded General “Stonewall” Jackson’s brilliant siege of nearby Harpers Ferry. Later, Murphy Farm was home to a famous brick firehouse that had become known as “John Brown’s Fort” for its role in the abolitionist’s 1859 raid on the Harpers Ferry that helped spark the Civil War. After it was moved to the farm, the elegant little firehouse-fort with its rhythmic archways and wooden cupola became a touchstone of African-American history. It was to the Murphy Farm and John Brown’s Fort that W.E.B. Dubois and other members of the Second Niagara Movement (which later became the NAACP) made a barefoot pilgrimage in 1906.”

With support from the Trust for Public Land in 2002, Murphy Farm was added to the Park, preventing a 188-home subdivision that had been planned for the land and fulfilling a Murphy-family descendant’s goal of “inclusive history.” (More on that story here.)

On this Inauguration Day – this day of transition – we have our eyes cast towards the future, and opportunities to inform President Biden’s administration on our clean water priorities here in West Virginia and across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

On your mark, get set…GO!

We make the following recommendations for President Biden:

Support clean water programs in FY 2022 Budget Request

We join 100+ Choose Clean Water Coalition members from across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – including 15 groups right here in West Virginia – in requesting President Biden’s support for three critical programs in his annual Budget Bequest to Congress, including full funding for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program at $90.5 million. Read the full request letter here.

Uphold science in decision making processes

We are encouraged to learn that President Biden plans to elevate the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to a cabinet-level position. We hope this move signals a commitment to science-based decision-making on federal policies.

Address climate change head-on

The Biden Administration has the opportunity to recommit to a scientific approach to tackling climate crisis. So far, President Biden has committed to rejoining the Paris Climate Accord his very first day in office (today!). Learn more about the Paris Climate Accord here. Additionally, President Biden has stated that addressing climate change is one the top priorities of his administration. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the Biden Administration’s actions on climate and will advocate for science-based policies that don’t leave Appalachian residents behind.

Checking out the cannons, and sharing a quick hug, at Murphy Farm.

In the everlasting words of Bob Weir…what a long, strange trip it’s been.

If you’re anything like our family, you’re doing your best to keep your head above water. To find a rock of stability in a sea of change.

Each morning we wake to a new sense of hope, that come what may, we are ready. We brace ourselves for the crash, and enter the day. We make it through, claiming victories when we can and accepting losses when we must, collapsing into bed each night – exhausted. Our daily transition complete.

I don’t know about you, but I feel completely alive.

To clean water and clean hands,

Tanner Haid, Eastern Panhandle Field Coordinator

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