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Originally known as Harper’s Ferry, Eden is a verdant utopia at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Nestled in an isolated vale in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia, the people of Eden live secluded, but comfortable, lives.
A Quaker named Robert Harper first settled harper’s Ferry in 1734. He obtained the 125-acre plot of land at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers from the colony of Virginia with the intent of creating a community in which the Friends would be able to practice their religious beliefs in peace. As Harper’s community grew larger over the years, more and more attention became focused on it, both because of its beautiful scenery and because of its important location.
In 1796, the federal government bought a tract of land within the growing community and began building the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, the second federal armory commissioned by the United States government. The presence of the armory caused many of the Quakers living in the settlement to leave. In their wake, Harper’s Ferry became an industrial center, with most of the small arms and rifles used for the U.S. Army being produced at the facility. More than 600,000 pistols, muskets, and rifles were produced at the armory during the sixty years the facility was in operation.
In October 1859, the radical abolitionist John Brown led a raid on the armory with a group of 21 likeminded men. He attacked and captured several buildings, intending to distribute the weapons he seized to freed blacks and slaves across the south to spark a slave uprising throughout the South. Brown was eventually captured by a local militia and the U.S. Marines, and was put on trial and killed, but his raid on the armor helped spark the Civil War.
The Civil War was disastrous for Harper’s Ferry. When Virginia ceded from the Union, soldiers loyal to the stars and stripes destroyed most of the armory to prevent the weapons and machinery there from falling into the hands of the rebels and aiding them in their war effort. Between 1861 and 1685, the town changed hands eight times, owing to its importance as a strategic location on the confluence of the two rivers and because of important railway lines passing through and near the town.
After the war, Harper’s Ferry became an outdoor resort town for the elite from nearby Washington DC and Baltimore to vacation to, with railroads making numerous excursions to and from the site daily. By the turn of the 20th century, however, Harper’s Ferry would fade from public consciousness, as an improving automobile infrastructure opened the rest of the country to the burgeoning middle class. In 1944, the town was transferred to the National Registry of Historic Places and became a National Park, administered by the National Park Service.
The Great War
Deemed unimportant, and made a difficult target to begin with because it was obstructed and obscured by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Harper’s Ferry avoided any direct hits during the nuclear catastrophe that ended the Great War. The 1,000 or so residents were not able to avoid the large mobs fleeing from Baltimore and Washington DC, though. In the aftermath of the Great War, large migrations of people swept over the sleepy town, destroying much of it and killing most that made their homes there.
Over the next century, as society struggled to get back on its feet, Harpers Ferry was inhabited intermittently. Groups would either pass through, taking what they could before moving on, or would settle down only to be forcibly removed by another group after them. The pattern repeated itself numerous times, but would finally stop in the later half of the 22nd century.
Exodus From Tennessee
No one is quite sure about his actual origins, but in 2178, a man by the name of Aaron Goodman amassed a sizable amount of followers in New Memphis, Tennessee, a proceeded to lead them on a pilgrimage east. An evangelist, Goodman began preaching about a “Red Path” that would bring those that followed it to paradise. Though most New Memphians ignored his sermons, and thought he was nothing more than a whacked out jet head, many residents were disillusioned about the constant fighting or turmoil in the city and bought into Goodman’s claims. Taking the preacher’s claims about a paradise in the east on faith alone, they left with him on the nearly 500-mile journey from Memphis to eastern Tennessee.
The journey was not an easy one. The group encountered dangerous animals, flooding rains, brutal heat, and even a tornado. And those were just the natural hazards. In addition, they ran into the occasional raider, dishonest wastelander, and other threats from their fellow man. By the time the group reached eastern Tennessee, many of Goodman’s original 100 or so followers had either died or turned back, and many more were on the cusp of either dying or turning back. But, then a miracle happened.
After marching almost 500 miles through the ruins of Tennessee, the group reached an area known as the Blackstack Cliffs. Besides for providing a beautiful view, the area was marked with red marks on trees and rocks. While, in reality, these marks were trail markings signaling the path of the Appalachian Trail, Goodman and his followers took the marks as a divine message, the sacred “Red Path” that was going to lead them to salvation. Emboldened by their discovery and renewed in spirit, the evangelist and his followers followed the Red Path, now heading north.
The trip north, through Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, was another harsh expedition. After nearly 500 more miles of travel, Goodman and his followers- a group that had now ballooned to about 150 as others joined the pilgrimage- crossed the border from Virginia to West Virginia at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. The evangelist stopped the group, proclaiming the ruins of Harpers Ferry to be the paradise that the Red Path was taking them to. After roughly four years of hardship, Goodman and his followers settled down and began building their new settlement, Eden.
Owing to its status as a mostly secluded hermitage, Eden is mostly self-sufficient. Crops are grown on site, to be used by the people of the settlement. Facilities exist for more industrial pursuits such as engineering, masonry, gunsmithing, leatherworking, among others, with various individuals that are trained in such trades. Individuals with cursory and advanced medical knowledge care for the community.
The elders of Eden are aware that there are many things the outside world provides that the community cannot do, and as such, appoint residents to make regular supply runs into the metropolitan areas of Washington DC and Baltimore. While these supply runs are generally for items or materials that the community needs, they are sometimes made with the intention of recruiting outsiders with particular skills to bring back to the closed off community.
Eden is led by a council composed of appointed residents. Seats on the council last two years and can be held for longer than one term, though an individual cannot be appointed to two consecutive terms. Because the settlement maintains strict isolation, the council deals primarily with internal matters.
The Red Cardinal is the spiritual leader of Eden. He tends to the religious needs of the city, a combination of bastardized Christianity along with the personal ideas and beliefs of the movement’s founder, Aaron Goodman. The faith operates from The Church of the Red Path, formerly St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, a neo-gothic structure that occupies a prominent location in the settlement, towering high above the downtown district. The current Red Cardinal, Thomas Goodman, assumed the position in 2275. Thomas is the great-grandson of Aaron, the first Red Cardinal.
Eden is located on low-lying flood plains created by the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. It is surrounded by higher ground- across the Shenandoah is Loudoun Heights, in Virginia, and across the Potomac is Maryland Heights, in Maryland. The settlement is roughly one mile long by a mile wide, built on what can only be called a peninsula due to how the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers run.
The area parallel to the Potomac is known as Low Town. Low Town is where most of commerce in the settlement takes place. The area parallel to the Shenandoah is much higher in elevation and is known as High Rock. High Rock is mostly undeveloped and uninhabited, the Church of the Red Path being the notable exception. The westernmost area of the town, the most spacious, is known as the Central District. The Central District is home to the majority of the town’s 200 or so residents, and is where the medical clinic and town hall are located.
Eden is an isolated settlement, and as such, it enjoys no formal relations with nearby settlements in the Washington DC or Baltimore metropolitan areas. In fact, the town does its best to dissuade outsiders from approaching. Armed men and women patrol the shores of both rivers to prevent wanderers from getting too close in the southeast and northeast, while more guards station the wall preventing individuals from entering from the west.
The process is not perfect, and occasionally individuals do make it close enough to the settlement that they cannot be ignored. Depending on the skills of those who get too close, as well as their own intentions, those individuals are either adopted by the community or are escorted back into the nearby wastes and set free, with the unspoken agreement that returning results in death. Raiders have passed the settlements and attempted to gain access a few times in Eden’s history, but have always been dealt with.