In my last two blogs I wrote about important Gettysburg National Military Park goals for fiscal year 2014: addressing challenges at Little Round Top, and continuing battlefield rehabilitation on North Cemetery Ridge at the site of the old Visitor Center parking lot. This week we will look at another of the four goals: creating a cultural landscape report (CLR) for Gettysburg’s first day’s battlefield.
A cultural landscape is a geographic area, including both cultural and natural resources and the wildlife or domestic animals therein, associated with a historic event, activity, or person or exhibiting other cultural or aesthetic values.
This CLR would cover the 732-acre area that is part of the first day’s battlefield (Union 1st Corps) within Gettysburg NMP. (See section 1 of the map below.) Located in the northwest quadrant of the park, the first day’s battlefield is a broad, open area where the initial clash of Confederate and Union troops occurred on July 1, 1863. This project area is National Park Service property between the Mummasburg Road and the Route 116 (the Hagerstown Road), with the exception of the acreage within the Forney farm boundaries. It includes portions of the 1863 Harman, Herbst, McPherson, Wills, Christ and Seminary properties.
This CLR will help the park protect the landscape’s character-defining features from alteration or loss and provide park management with the information needed to make decisions about changes in the future, including the Emanuel Harman farm (the former Gettysburg Country Club) acquired by the NPS in March 2011. (Note: Historic records show alternate spellings for the farm, both Emanuel and Emmanuel, and both Harman and Harmon.)
In 1863 the country club property was part of the Harman and Abraham Spangler farms where Confederate Brigades advanced and retreated during an attack on the Union positions on McPherson and Seminary Ridges. In the 1950’s the property was developed into the Gettysburg Country Club and operated as a golf course and country club until it closed in 2008. The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting important places across America, worked to successfully acquire fee title to a 95-acre portion of the land, and subsequently conveyed it to the NPS. The Civil War Trust assisted with the project.
Cumberland Club Investment, owners of the remaining 14.5 acres of the old country club, the developed portion on the north side of the property where the club houses, tennis courts, pool and parking are, donated an easement to the NPS to protect the land with a height restriction on any new construction there.
The CLR will document the landscape history, existing conditions, and significance (Component A) and prescribe treatment recommendations (Component B) for two major battlefield areas: the upper ridge area, including McPherson and Oak Ridges, and the lower valley area just north of the Borough of Gettysburg. The upper ridge area is composed of relatively broad rises now under agricultural production.
The report will also provide long-term landscape management recommendations to the NPS for:
- Preserving the panoramic views from the upper ridge area toward South Mountain;
- Preserving the remaining features and ongoing agricultural and pasture use of several historic farmsteads located in the project area;
- Address cultural and natural resource management objectives for areas along Willoughby Run and Rock Creek;
- Provide guidance on rehabilitation of fields, fence lines, and orchards;
- Address resource management issues related to heavy visitor use along Willoughby Run and Reynolds Woodlot and the potential for incorporating historic circulation systems for pedestrian or bicycle use.
At a later date, the NPS will do a CLR for the rest of the first’s day’s battlefield – Union 11th Corps (Section 2 on the map above).
NPS cost estimate: $120,000 – fully funded by a donation from the Gettysburg Foundation. The Foundation is currently raising additional funds to implement the strategies identified in this CLR to bring back missing features from 1863.
In my next blog in this series we will look at creating a fire management plan for Gettysburg NMP in fiscal year 2014.
Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, February 21, 2014