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Charles Town, W.Va.  

Special Interests

Jefferson County CourthouseFounded by George Washington’s brother Charles Washington in 1786, Charles Town is known for its historical connection to the Washington family. Located in the heart of downtown Charles Town, the Jefferson County Courthouse is the site of two of only three treason trials held in the United States prior to World War II. Trials include John Brown, the abolitionist who led the raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859; and Billy Blizzard, the alleged leader of an insurgence of striking coal miners in 1922.

In 1893, the Charles Town Mining Manufacturing and Improvement Company mapped out a community designed to be a growth area to attract new industry and residents. In 1910, the area became incorporated as Ranson.

Charles Town and Ranson are two unique cities rich in history and culture that have come together in an effort to increase the tourism and business industries for West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle


  • Downtown Charles Town - Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour and learn about Charles Town’s rich history and unique architecture. Walking tour brochures are available at the Charles Town Visitor’s Center.
  • Charles Town Races and Slots (CTRS) - A major attraction, CTRS offers live horse racing and gaming, and also hosts the Breeder’s Classic, a major racing event each October.
  • Washington Heritage Trail - Jefferson County is rich in Washington Family history with numerous homes and historic sites related to George Washington’s travels to the Eastern Panhandle and his many family members who made this area their home. A self-guided driving tour of the Washington Heritage Trail is available beginning at the Charles Town Visitor’s Center.
  • Harpers Ferry National Park - Site of the John Brown Raid, visitors can tour the historic town and John Brown museum to learn about this John Brown Fortimportant historical event and others, including the Niagara Movement and Lewis & Clark expedition.
  • Other Outdoor Recreation - Harpers Ferry is situated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and offers many options for outdoor recreation, including swimming, whitewater rafting, tubing and much more.
  • The C&O Canal path, which originates in Cumberland, Md., and ends in Georgetown, runs along the Potomac River and is a destination of choice for bikers of all ages. Numerous nearby hiking trails offer unparalleled views of the rivers, Harpers Ferry and surrounding landscape.
  • The Appalachian Trail headquarters is located in Harpers Ferry.

Signature Events

  • Ranson Festival - Third Saturday in May; Ranson Civic Center, Ranson
  • First Friday Summer Concert Series - First Fridays in June, July, August and September; location rotates between Marcus Field, Ranson, and N. Charles St., Charles Town
  • African-American Heritage Festival & Parade - Third Saturday in August; Charles Town
  • Charles Town Christmas Tree Lighting - Friday after Thanksgiving; Jefferson County Courthouse, Charles Town
  • Ranson Christmas Tree Lighting - Saturday after Thanksgiving; Ranson Circle, Ranson
  • Charles Town/Ranson Christmas Parade - Second Saturday in December; Charles Town and Ranson
  • Parade of Horses - Third Sunday in December; Charles Town


Charles Town Racing and SlotsMajor employers include Charles Town Races and Slots, American Public University Systems, county and municipal governments, Bank of Charles Town and United Bank.



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