Since 2009, legislation has been pending in Congress to expand the boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park to include Gettysburg’s historic Lincoln Train Station. This would allow the National Park Service to preserve the site and improve our interpretation of the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg and President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
For the last ten years, the Borough of Gettysburg owned the building but did
not have the funds to operate it. To temporarily resolve concerns about preservation of the site and public access, the Gettysburg Foundation purchased the train station in January 2014 from the Borough of Gettysburg. The Foundation plans to donate it to the park once the boundary legislation is passed.
The Lincoln Train Station was built in 1858 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It served as a hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg and the wounded and the dead were transported from Gettysburg through this station in the aftermath of battle. Abraham Lincoln arrived at this station when he visited to give the Gettysburg Address.
The park’s general management plan calls for expanding cooperative relationships within the Borough of
Gettysburg and other sites “to ensure that resources closely linked to the park, the battle, and the non-combatant civilian involvement in the battle and its aftermath are appropriately protected and used.” Another example is the David Wills House on Lincoln Square, which is now part of Gettysburg NMP, serves as a museum and is operated by the park and the Gettysburg Foundation.
For many years the train station has
served as a downtown information and orientation center showcasing historic attractions in the town of Gettysburg and Adams County, Pa., including the David Wills House. Destination Gettysburg (formerly the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau) operates it.
Once the legislation passes and the Gettysburg Foundation donates the train station to the NPS, park plans call for Destination Gettysburg to continue to operate an information and orientation center in the train station on behalf of the NPS, thereby alleviating the park of most staffing and operational costs.
The legislation also adds 45 acres of environmentally sensitive land near Big Round Top to the boundary of the park. This unimproved parcel abuts the boundary of the park and is within the congressionally authorized Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District. Cavalry skirmishes occurred near this site of the southern end of the battlefield, but the primary real significance is environmental. The tract has critical wetlands and wildlife habitat related to Plum Run. Wayne and Susan Hill donated it to the Foundation in April 2009. The Gettysburg Foundation, the non-profit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg, plans to donate the land to the NPS once it’s in the park boundary. It abuts land already owned by the NPS.
Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, 5/1/14