Meet Our Guides

Jim Beckman
Certified 2018

Jim Beckman first fell in love with Harpers Ferry over twenty-five years ago when visiting the Park as an active-duty Army officer. Even though Jim has been a university professor in Florida for the last several decades, Jim nevertheless continues to spend significant periods of time each year in Harpers Ferry and owns a former Armory worker’s home in town that was built in 1847. Jim’s background as a full-time university-level educator includes service on the Staff & Faculty of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1994-1996), an Associate Professor at the University of Tampa (2000-2011), and most recently, as a Professor at the University of Central Florida (2011-Present). He has degrees from the University of Tampa, Ohio State University and Georgetown University. Jim was also selected as an Artist in Residence for the Harpers Ferry National Park in 2001 and researched Storer College during his Park residency.
 
Jim also enjoys the inspirational Park setting to complete a variety of different research and writing projects. Jim has authored numerous articles about many aspects of Harpers Ferry’s history, including multiple publications dealing with topics such as John Brown, John Brown's Raid, John Brown's Trial, Storer College, the U.S. Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, African American history in Harpers Ferry, as well as articles on the Civil War generally. Additionally, two of Jim’s published books are about Harpers Ferry's history.  One book is a pictorial history of Harpers Ferry utilizing 195 vintage photographs and antique postcard images to portray various historical events which occurred in town (Harpers Ferry, Arcadia Publishing 2006). The second book covers the creation, evolution, and history of the National Park at Harpers Ferry, and contains 199 vintage images (Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Arcadia Publishing 2020).


Chris Craig
Certified 2017

Christopher Craig first fell in love with Harpers Ferry in 1984 while on a long-distance bicycle tour. During his 15 years in Washington, DC, he frequently visited Harpers Ferry to hike, bicycle or absorb the town’s history.
 
In 2005, he made the move to full-time residency in his favorite town, and he operated a bed and breakfast in his historic home for nearly 10 years. Chris became immersed in the history of Harpers Ferry through reading, attending programs, and researching the history of his house.
 
Prior to his inn keeping, Chris was a high school teacher for 20 years. He has served as a volunteer editor and officer in various professional, non-profit and community organizations, including the Harpers Ferry Civil War Round Table. He continues to enjoy the outdoors in and around his home, and he has began a series of section hikes on the Appalachian Trail, which he hopes to complete by 2026.
 

Jeff Evans
Certified 2017 | Limited Availability

Jeff Evans has loved history and nature from early childhood, when he would climb into his grandfather’s lap to explore books about the nation’s past. By high school, the eastern Ohio native was active in several local history organizations and spent his summers uncovering the past with a local university’s archaeology department.
 
Jeff graduated with distinction from Bethany College in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. As a student, Jeff served as a seasonal ranger at both Fort Necessity and Petersburg National Battlefields, and also spent a semester working at Colonial Williamsburg before deciding that knee breeches were more comfortable in concept than in application. After college, Jeff spent nearly a decade as an interpretive ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, winning an Incentive Award for helping develop interpretive programming. He currently serves as the Middle School History and Environmental Education teacher at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He specializes in making important national stories approachable through the lens of local, relatable places and stories brought vividly to life.
 
A longtime senior staff writer for the Battlefield Journal and previous guest editor of the Jefferson County Ohio Genealogical Newspaper, Jeff is a frequent contributor to several publications. He is a sought after lecturer and has developed programs for a variety of organizations.
 
Jeff is married to fellow Gettysburg National Military Park Alumni, Lynn, who displays a remarkable degree of tolerance for his many eccentricities. Together they have three children who share their father’s passion for history and the outdoors—especially Harpers Ferry. His two girls can often be found biking the C&O Canal with their dad, while his preschool son believes Lower Town to be his own personal magic kingdom of make-believe.
 

Jim Silvia
Certified 2014
 
Jim Silvia lives in Massachusetts and began his history resume as a member of the Cape Cod Civil War Round Table. He was a member between 1996 and 2005, and was the president for 8 of those 10 years. He was instrumental in continuing to support a high school scholarship program based on Civil War knowledge. He was also a member of the APCWS, which was a forerunner of the CWPT. As a member he attended multiple preservation conferences.
 
Over the course of the years, Jim has visited many Civil War battlefields, covering most of the major sites East of the Mississippi. Most recently he has been devoting his time to discovering the Revolutionary War historic sites in New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia. He and his wife started visiting Harpers Ferry in 1992. They both joined the Board of the Harpers Ferry Historical Association in 1998. Jim became President of the Association in 2001, and was President for 13 years. He continues to serve on the board for Harpers Ferry Park Association.
 
Jim & Suzanne purchased an 1842 former armory worker’s house as a vacation home in Bolivar, and plan to retire here. Until then, they make 8 to 10 trips a year to Harpers Ferry. Jim spends most of his spare time roaming the historic areas, and reading all he can about the town and local events.
 

Rick Snowden
Certified 2021

Rick’s a child of the Potomac Valley. His earliest memories are of Harpers Ferry.
 
His love of local history began at his Aunt Naomi’s table, listening to stories like the one where Uncle John was recruited into the army at Harpers Ferry and how he was shot in the tin cup at the battle of first Manassass. When Rick read what his aunt had told him in Dennis Frye’s 2nd Virginia Infantry, he was hooked.
 
Rick spent 17 years as an educational course leader for World Strides, leading tours of Washington DC with eighth grade students and their teachers. He retired in June 2019. To keep the passion for local history going, he became a Harpers Ferry Park Guide. To continue the learning experience he belongs to the Harpers Ferry Civil War Round Table, contributes to the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society, has served on the Board of Directors of The Friends of Charles Washington’s Happy Retreat, is a member of the Adam Stephens Camp, Sons of the American Revolution, and volunteers regularly at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. He and Athena, his wife of 48 years, live to garden on a plot of land in Hedgesville, WV. 


Mike Vidmar
Certified 2019

Mike graduated from Bowling Green State University and earned a master’s degree in School Library Media from McDaniel College. Recently retired, he taught elementary school for 38 years in Ohio and Maryland.
 
He moved to Harpers Ferry in 1987 and immediately began to take advantage of the outdoor and historic opportunities the area offered. He was a member of the Harpers Ferry Civil War Round Table, and volunteered at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Park. After retiring from teaching, he began volunteering at Harpers Ferry National Park, assisting visitors and presenting a Tour of the Day.
 
Mike enjoys the outdoors and has biked the entire C & O Canal Towpath along with hiking various parts of the Appalachian Trail. He can also be seen exploring the nearby Antietam and Gettysburg Battlefields, and through his genealogical research discovered his 2nd great uncle was a Civil War soldier in the 74th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment.