The new scene at Gettysburg’s Wills Woods and Spanglers Spring


The park recently demolished this modern house and garage along Mummasburg Road.

Contractors working for Gettysburg National Military Park have recently finished the demolition of modern structures in two key locations on the Gettysburg battlefield.


The garage along Mummasburg Road prior to demolition.


James J. Wills’ Woods

The first site is along Mummasburg Road where a modern house and garage had been purchased by the park sixteen years ago, but the seller retained a life estate.  The property is less than an acre, situated along Mummasburg Road west of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.  In 2013, the park got full possession of the property and started a process required before demolitions can take place.

The park has now demolished the modern house and garage on this .83 acre parcel. Historically, the land was part of James J. Wills’ woods, which served as cover for Rode’s Division as they prepared to attack Union positions on Oak Ridge on July 1st, 1863.


Demolition underway along Mummasburg Road.


The house site viewed from Mummasburg Road after the demolition was completed, taken in early November 2016.

The Welcome Traveler campground site near Spanglers Spring


This modern house and non-historic barn, on the right, were part of the Welcome Traveler campground that operated until the early 1990s along Baltimore Pike not far from Spanglers Spring.

This year we accomplished our goal of returning the former Welcome Traveler property to its battle-era appearance. In 1994, the NPS acquired a 19.5 acre property known as Welcome Traveler, a privately operated campground on Baltimore Pike not far from Spanglers Spring.  The property included a house and barn that were not from the battle era.

For a while the park used the buildings for administrative purposes. Gettysburg National Military Park interns lived in the house every summer for decades and we stored maintenance equipment and supplies in the barn.



The house at the Welcome Traveler site during demolition.

The land was the site of a major concentrated Union position July 2 – 5, 1863 when Union Infantry massed here preparatory to a Union offensive against Confederates in the Spanglers Spring area. A valiant attack by the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment occurred on the eastern portion of this tract.

More land preservation needed at Gettysburg

The congressionally authorized boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park is 6,033 acres.  Inside the boundary, there are still 865 acres not yet protected from development by the federal government.  Our partners at the Civil War Trust and the Gettysburg Foundation play a key role in helping us acquire privately owned lands inside the park boundary.  It is a long process that requires willing sellers and no small amount of funds.


The final clean-up of the former Welcome Traveler site included removing debris, re-seeding, and re-locating a utility pole.

Katie Lawhon, November 10, 2016



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2 Responses to The new scene at Gettysburg’s Wills Woods and Spanglers Spring

  1. Graham Weaver says:

    Glad to the Park continuing to return our battlefield to its 1863 state. Gettysburg is one place where the trend has been away from additional development and toward more historic preservation..
    Well Done!
    Graham weaver
    Borough Councilman, Ward 3

  2. Katherine McCreary says:

    It’s actually a little sad to see the demolition of nice homes which have a little history of their own, but I still think you’re doing the right thing. Historical preservation is complicated and there are tradeoffs. We owe a debt of gratitude to the people who sell their properties to the Trust and Foundation in the knowledge that they will become part of the park. Well done everyone!

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