I have been stationed here at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park (HAFE) for my second internship. I was only here once last year for Operational Leadership Training. I was very excited to learn that I was coming back to HAFE as a summer intern. The town is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and is also the meeting place where two large rivers, the Potomac and Shenandoah, combine into one. The views are remarkable and make the start of every day that much better just by walking out the door in the mornings. HAFE is a National Park Service site due to how much historical significance it holds. In 1799, the town became home to the United States Armory and Arsenal. Because of this, Harpers Ferry was also a checkpoint for the Lewis and Clark Expedition to stock up on tools and weaponry that were needed in order for their survival out West. The town also encompassed important means for transportation through the mountainous region such as the Robert Harper's ferry service, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, and the Winchester & Potomac railroad. Harpers Ferry is the site of abolitionist John Brown's raid in 1859 in his attempt to fight against slavery. The town has also played a dramatic role in the Civil War, switching sides 8 times and being the site of numerous battles between the Confederates and the Union.
I have already learned a lot during my first weeks here. Due to this being my second internship, I will be spending more time with law enforcement. My first few days were spent to orient me with the park. I learned that Harpers Ferry is home to the Stephen T. Mather Training Center, where trainings and meetings are held for park service employees nationwide. The building used to be the Storer College until 1955. The Interpretive Design Center, which is also located in Harpers Ferry, creates all of the interpretive tools and media for the entire agency. Every wayside sign, brochure, video, map, and other related items have all been designed in the facility. I visited the buildings for each division, and met park staff , as well as the other interns and volunteers who will be working here this summer. I also learned that two other NPS sites actually go right through our park, the C&O Canal and the Appalachian Trail. My supervisor gave me a tour of the other areas of the park that are not as frequently visited by tourists or that are closed off to the public. I was surprised with how big HAFE really is. Before this summer, I thought the park only consisted of Lower Town which is in West Virginia. But the park owns large parcels of land throughout Maryland and Virginia as well. We took a hike down Short Hill in Virginia until we reached the shores of the Shenandoah River. My supervisor explained to me this is a prime area for catching illegal drinking and relic hunting. We drove to an area know as Dam 3 that used to be the water intake for an old power plant. Illegal drinking and dumping has been frequent to this area. Also the old power plant building has been looted for copper in the past years. Another LE ranger here took me to Murphy's Farm to show me an overlook that could be potentially dangerous for individuals, as they had someone fall here in the past.
I was introduced to IMARS, the Incident Management, Analysis, and Reporting System that the Department of the Interior uses. It is a nationally based program for reporting citations, warnings, incidents, and EMS calls. This system is fairly still new to the NPS, so we went over all the different information needed to be filled out for an incident. I learned how to take apart a handgun, shotgun, and a semi-automatic rifle. I helped one of the LE rangers clean their weapons in order to learn the right techniques that should be applied. I was given a tour of Grandview, the LE office that was formerly a school. The evidence custodian showed me around the evidence room and taught me the proper procedures behind filing new evidence. I explored the fire and EMS caches to check out all the tools and supplies that are available for use in these situations. We went through the EMS kits in the back of the patrol vehicles and went over the tools that I would be able to use to help during an emergency. I cannot wait to do EMS training when I get back to school in the fall, for I think that is something I really want to learn.