Laws for Gettysburg preservation are being supported by U.S. senators
Preservationists are drawing lines of defense around more of America's hallowed ground.
U.S. senators hoping to control development near Civil War sites have introduced legislation to protect two parcels at Gettysburg and preserve thousands of acres of battlefields at Vicksburg, Miss., and Petersburg, Va.
"That kind of historic land can never be replaced," said Michael Kraus, curator of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland and a member of the National Civil War Museum Advisory Council. "These are places where people fought and gave their lives."
Preservation groups recently fought off a developer's proposal to build a casino a half-mile from Gettysburg National Military Park, drawing attention to the preservation issue.
A planned Gettysburg expansion would add 46 acres, including two parcels known as Plum Run and the Gettysburg Train Station. Supporters hope that will happen before next summer's 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
"History is dry when encountered only in a classroom. History comes home when we see land on which horse soldiers battled ... or walk into the yellow brick (train) station where Lincoln arrived to define our nation as a union free of slavery," said Susan S. Paddock, chair of No Casino Gettysburg, which supports expanding the 6,000-acre park.
The National Register of Historic Places says the train station was built in 1858. The station became a field hospital during the July 1-3, 1863, battle that shifted the war's momentum to the North. On Nov. 18, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln arrived there to deliver the Gettysburg Address the next day.
Cavalry skirmishes occurred on the Plum Run property, located at the southern end of the battlefield.
Expanding the park also would protect plant and animal habitat, including critical wetlands, supporter say.
Sen. Robert Casey, a Scranton Democrat, introduced legislation in November to authorize the park's expansion. Wayne and Susan Hill donated the Plum Run property to the Gettysburg Foundation in 2009, and the foundation will donate it to the National Park Service when it is within the park's boundary. The park service would buy the train station for about $772,000 with money the foundation raises.
"It is a sacred place," said Nicholas J. Lund, Civil War associate at the National Parks Conservation Association in Washington.
The association and the Civil War Trust, a land preservation nonprofit based in Washington, find it encouraging that Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh County, gave his support to the bill in January.
"It will help preserve Pennsylvania's unique history and encourage tourism and growth in the area," Toomey said.
Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, both Republicans from Mississippi, are pushing to add about 10,000 acres at Vicksburg National Military Park, which preserves sites involved in the battle for control of the Mississippi River. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both Democrats from Virginia, want to add 7,200 acres to Petersburg National Battlefield, site of a 9 1⁄2-month siege with 70,000 casualties that ended with a Union victory a week before the South surrendered at Appomatox.
Housing, roads and other development have destroyed nearly 20 percent of America's Civil War battlefields, the Civil War Trust estimates.
"The concern for Gettysburg is that there are boundaries for the park, but that's not the only places that are important land, hallowed land," said Mindy G. Crawford, executive director of Preservation Pennsylvania, a private statewide nonprofit dedicated to helping preserve historic places.
"We always expect places like Gettysburg to be protected," she said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Carnegie Mellon expert to school Congress on security
- Tribune-Review poll: Cable news rises as network news falls
- EPA ripped for evading request for information
- Dems keep blocking joint negotiations on immigration orders
- Maryland’s Senator Mikulski announces retirement
- Lawmakers press Veterans Affairs for improved access to rural health care
- Several states in path of wintry blasts
- Supreme Court justices split on states’ panels to prevent gerrymandering
- Gag order challenged in W.Va. mine disaster case
- IRS audits of businesses reach 8-year low
- $4.8M in gold taken in armored truck hijacking in North Carolina