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is near Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry is a historic town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, United States. In many books the town is called "Harper's Ferry" with an apostrophe....
in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in and around Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The park includes land in Jefferson County, West Virginia; Washington County, Maryland and Loudoun County, Virginia. The park is managed by the...
. It is several large masses of shale
Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite. The ratio of clay to other minerals is variable. Shale is characterized by breaks along thin laminae or parallel layering...
rock piled one upon the other that overlook the Shenandoah River
The Shenandoah River is a tributary of the Potomac River, long with two forks approximately long each, in the U.S. states of Virginia and West Virginia...
just prior to its confluence with the Potomac River
The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. The river is approximately long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles...
. The name of this landmark derives from Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...
, who stood there on October 25, 1783. He found the view from the rock impressive and wrote that "this scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic".
The uppermost slab of Jefferson Rock originally rested on a natural stone foundation so narrow that one was able to sway the rock back and forth with a gentle push. Because this natural foundation had "dwindled to very unsafe dimensions by the action of the weather, and still more, by the devastations of tourists and curiosity-hunters," four stone pillars were placed under each corner of the uppermost slab sometime between 1855 and 1860.