This week we’ll look at another of Gettysburg National Military Park’s 2014 goals, the rehabilitation of North Cemetery Ridge Since 2009 the park and the Gettysburg Foundation have been implementing phases of this project to return key portions of the center of the Union battle line on Cemetery Ridge to its appearance at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863. Key steps along the way have included: demolition of the old visitor center in 2009; planting 41 apple trees to reestablish the Frey orchard (North) in 2010; and demolition of the Cyclorama building in 2013.
Last week, C.E. Williams, a contractor for the Gettysburg Foundation, started the project to remove the old Visitor Center parking lot, which is located along Taneytown Road across from the Soldiers’’ National Cemetery. They will also re-grade the area to its historic profile in 1863 and plant meadow grasses. Historic fencing on the site will be built during the Friends of Gettysburg’s annual volunteer day in June. The project will take approximately two to three months for completion, depending on the weather.
The project area includes the 136th New York Infantry monument and left flank marker as well as the site of the battle-era farm owned by David Ziegler, located along the east side of what is now Steinwehr Avenue between the entrances to the old Visitor Center parking lot and the old Cyclorama parking lot. This farm is marked on the Warren maps as the Emanuel Trostle farm. The farm buildings are now lost to history. The park does not have sufficient documentation to rebuild the structures. We do have sufficient documentation to rebuild the fencing associated with the farm.
In general the project area was open farm fields in 1863 and most of the existing trees will be removed. Battle era photos show that even in open meadows and crop fields there were scattered mature trees so the park has marked some trees “Do Not Cut.” Some of the existing trees provide natural screening from Gettysburg’s Quality Inn, located outside the park’s boundary just north of the project area. The park will keep some of these healthy, native trees as screening.
On a side note, removing the hemlock trees that formed part of this tree screen will help protect hemlocks in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery nearby. Hemlocks and other trees in the cemetery are significant because they are part of the formal cemetery design created by William Saunders. We have been treating the cemetery hemlocks to protect them from the invasive pest known as the Hemlock wooly adelgid. Removing the nonhistoric
hemlocks in this part of the tree screen will help protect the cemetery hemlocks.
Through the generosity of its donors, the Gettysburg Foundation is funding this project by covering the cost of general contracting, construction management and design costs which total approximately $400,000. The Foundation also funded the cost of last year’s demolition of the Cyclorama building which was $750,000.
The old Cyclorama parking lot, now known as the National Cemetery lot, will be retained for visitor use, although a future phase of this project calls for some changes to the lot. Additional future phases of the rehabilitation of Cemetery Ridge include reconstructing a commemorative era pathway and moving five monuments to their historic locations. These features were altered during the construction of the Cyclorama building in the early 1960s. The nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation continues to raise funds for future phases of the rehabilitation of Cemetery Ridge.
In future posts we will look at two more 2014 park projects: a Cultural Landscape Report for Gettysburg’s First Day Battlefield, and Creating a Fire Management Plan for Gettysburg.
Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, 2/7/14