Gettysburg National Military Park received special funding to address serious visitor safety concerns along Taneytown Road (State Route 134) within a core area of the battlefield. More and more visitors are following walking trails and historic Hancock Avenue from the Angle toward the Pennsylvania Memorial, the largest monument in the park. Then they choose to return by walking northbound along Taneytown Road, a narrow, busy road with no shoulders and no sidewalks.
Changes in visitor use: With our partners at the Gettysburg Foundation, the park opened a new museum and visitor center in 2008 in a new location east of Taneytown Road, about two thirds of a mile from the previous visitor center. Partly due to the new museum location and the improved orientation and walking trails associated with it, more park visitors are exploring the battlefield on foot. Taneytown Road in this area looks much as it did at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The road was an important transportation link during the armies’ approach, the fighting of the battle and the recovery efforts. It is one of ten historic roads leading into the town of Gettysburg in 1863 which caused the Confederate and Union armies to meet and fight in Gettysburg.
Increased visitation: The new park museum and visitor center, combined with the ongoing national commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War has resulted in increased visitation to Gettysburg and longer visitor stays. Annual park visitation in 2012 was 1.2 million – an increase of 11.8% over the 2008 visitation to the park. This year’s 150th battle anniversary year is expected to be an extremely high visitation year for the park.
Increased pedestrian use in the park: Improved visitor orientation, along with new opportunities to understand battlefield landscapes thanks to twelve years of battlefield rehabilitation efforts by the National Park Service, have resulted in more park visitors experiencing the battlefield on foot. National Park Service initiatives such as Call To Action #6 “Take a Hike, Call Me in the Morning” and efforts by the Healthy Adams County Physical Fitness Task Force have also played a role in increasing the number of people visiting the park for fitness walks and runs.
Other trail improvements: It seemed ideal to try to address at least one other park trail in need of resurfacing while this project was going on. We successfully added repaving for the trail near the 20th Maine monument on Little Round Top to the project. This will include new pavement on the small trail that leads up to the monument from the small parking area along Wright Avenue, as well as a new paved and chip-sealed surface on historic Chamberlain Avenue nearby.
The work will start in March and will be well underway in April. If we don’t have an extremely wet spring we believe both trails will be complete in May.
Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, Feb. 14, 2013