Gettysburg 1.0

Just over two weeks ago, I began work on the Record of Treatment for Gettysburg National Military Park. The first task I was assigned was to compare several hand drawn maps that recorded the historic landscape of Gettysburg. I was searching for specific resources that had been treated within the past 13 years, and then I was to record the numbers associated with the resource in an effort to catalogue the historic images associated with each feature. Then, when we would go to the site, we could stand in the same place that the historic photo was taken in an effort to understand if the feature retained the same character of the historic battlefield landscape.

The author of these maps is Kathy G. Harrison, the previous park historian for the park. In meetings, I would hear Margie or Tim reference KGH, and I developed this mythical idea of this great lady. Looking at the maps was like walking through someone’s brain with all the layers and layers of information everywhere.

Each map set contained 26 sheets that covered the 6000 acre site, and each drawing sheet was 24″x36″–so if these drawings were printed to scale and pieced together, it would take up an area of about 15′ x 13′. The craziest thing about this is that more than one set of these hand drawn maps exist. I was fascinated by all of the layers of information packed into each of these sheets. To be honest, I was swimming in made my brain hurt! (Maps 19 and 23 are shown below and can be enlarged if you click on them.)

KGH_Sheet19_a1 KGH_Sheet23_a

A second series of KGH maps were more colorful and less dense with information. This set, along with a new set of maps that Tim created with GIS data from the park, were also used during my first assignment. As there was some overlap in the KGH maps, Tim was able to piece together all the KGH maps and create a matching set of Olmsted Center maps to compare the historic and present landscapes of Gettysburg. They can be seen below.

19 KGH 1863 Map 19

I eventually did get to meet KGH, and it was pretty incredible to talk to the person that drew the maps that I had been pouring over. I almost couldn’t get a word in–she was smart and fiery!

To bring this full circle, I’ve included one set of historic and present day image comparisons. The landscape today does look very different than it did when the battle occurred in 1863, so we used landmarks to help find image locations. One thing that stands out in the landscape are the thousands of monuments in Gettysburg. Many of them have been there for over a hundred years, and some of these were very helpful in finding the present day locations of historic photographs.



The area that is now Barlow’s Knoll is named for the Union Colonel that captured the hill on the First Day’s Battle. The area was originally known as Blocher’s Hill and was once agricultural land. Below are portions of the KGH 1863 map and our present day OCLP map. Looking at both images and maps is helpful in understanding how the park is trying to maintain the landscape. In this instance, the area around the knoll is maintained as lawn instead of crop, but the forested areas remain in similar locations. When comparing the two images, it is easy to see that the landscape has been changed, but this is mainly due to the fact that agriculture is no longer practiced here.

BarlowKnoll01 BarlowKnoll02

As this past week of traveling was such a marathon, I don’t think I can capture all of my Gettysburg experiences in a single blog. So I am planning to do several installments in the next weeks. I’ll try to do a post on species identification, and I’ll share some of the amazing landscape through images and sketches.  That’s all for now!


3 responses to “Gettysburg 1.0

  1. I enjoyed reading the first installment and look forward to the next! How do we decide when a landscape has been restored/rehabilitated as best as it can be?

    • I think that we began to make some clear observations about certain maintenance practices, such as the health cuts for wood lots. The idea is that these wooded areas historically did not have much underbrush, so soldiers could easily run through them and a lot of fighting actually took place there. We saw many lots that had been cut back, but the character of those lots after 6-8 years is not giving the desired effect, rather, they were being overtaken with invasives along the edge of the forest. The health cuts have allowed in more light and are allowing more understory trees to grow in. So perhaps in the case of the health cuts, we may advise the park that the landscape of the woodlots are better left uncut, and attempting to maintain the open character may not be the best use of resources. I also think that creating a hierarchy of resources is important to the longterm future of the park. Right now, they are treating all areas of the park with the same level of importance. My question is what is the least that the park can do that still allows the complete story of the battle to be told?

  2. Pingback: A walk through Gettysburg | Designing the Parks·

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