Congress Asked To Pass Legislation To Increase Size of Gettysburg National Military Park

Legislation now in Congress, if passed, would transfer the historic Gettysburg Train Station to Gettysburg National Military Park. Photo by Alan Spears, National Parks Conservation Association.

The historic train station that President Lincoln arrived at in November 1863 on the eve of his Gettysburg Address, and which served as the field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg, would be added to Gettysburg National Military Park under legislation pending in Congress.

Forty-five acres of land along Plum Run that runs down Big Round Top also would be added to the park under the legislation introduced last fall by Sen. Robert Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, and which last week picked up the support of Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from the Keystone State. Companion legislation is being carried in the House by Rep. Todd Platts, also a Pennsylvania Republican.

Nick Lund, who follows issues related to Civil War units of the National Park System for the National Parks Conservation Association, said Sen. Toomey's support is important because he's a Republican and thus lends bipartisan appeal to the bill.

“It (Sen. Toomey's support) speaks a lot to whole great of a bill this is," Mr. Lund said Friday. "We are applauding him for coming out and supporting the bill.”

According to the NPCA, the country loses at least 1 million acres a year to development. While 45 acres pales in comparison, its protection is still vital, said Mr. Lund.

"By working to enact this bill, Senator Toomey is helping to ensure that our treasured lands remain intact and enhanced for our children and grandchildren to experience and explore," the NPCA official said.

The Gettysburg Train Station, which has been restored to the state it was in when it served as a field hospital and saw 15,000 would soldiers depart on trains following the Battle of Gettysburg, is located in downtown Gettysburg. If the station is transferred to the National Park Service, it would be operated by the Borough of Gettysburg through a cooperative agreement with the Park Sevice.

The train station currently is operated by a group called the National Trust for Historic Gettysburg. Under the legislation, the Borough of Gettysburg would operate it on behalf of the military park. Mr. Lund said including the station within the military park would ensure its long-term preservation

“It faces an uncertain future right now under the town. If it belongs to the Park Service, it will belong to them for good," he said.

The Big Round Top property was the site of cavalry skirmishes during the Battle of Gettysburg, according to the NPCA. Acquisition of the property will also protect plant and animal habitat including critical wetlands along the Plum Run stream, the group adds. This property abuts the Gettysburg National Military Park boundary on the southern end of the battlefield.

Comments

That's a nice addition. It'll bring the park right into downtown, whereas right now it's all around it. The town is as much a part of the history as the battlefields.