Gettysburg electric map headed to new home in Hanover, York County
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"This is a real coup for the town of Hanover," state Rep. Will Tallman said Monday. "I'm really excited about this."
The Hanover Republican is enthused about York County developer Scott Roland's winning bid of $14,010 to buy a nearly 50-year-old electric map illustrating the famous Battle of Gettysburg and bring it to Hanover, a small town 15 miles east of Gettysburg that is trying to attract more tourists and visitors.
Mr. Roland, working with Hanover Chamber of Commerce official Gary Laird, sent the U.S. General Services Administration a check Monday to acquire the 12-ton, steel-and-plaster topographical map that had been on the verge of being dumped in a landfill.
"We just found out about the availability of the map last week, and we had to move fast," Mr. Roland said in a phone interview Monday.
The National Park Service announced an online auction last week to find a buyer for the map, which had been part of the now-razed former visitors center but was not included in the new center, which opened in 2008.
"This map is a piece of history, and a lot of people around here wanted to see it saved," said Hanover Mayor Ben Adams. "Everybody remembers the electric map. There should be a whirlwind of publicity."
"We want people to learn about the heritage of this community," Mr. Laird said.
Park officials said it would have cost them $32,000 to dump it in a landfill, so they were glad to be spared that cost, said spokeswoman Katie Lawhon. One problem with putting it back on display was the hazardous asbestos coating on the map, which had been put on in 1963 when the map was first displayed to the public.
The map was created to mark the 100th anniversary of the historic battle between the North and South, waged July 1-3, 1863. The map used electrical lights to show the key battles of the fighting in and around Gettysburg, considered the turning point against the Confederacy in the Civil War.
For two years, Mr. Roland, Mr. Laird and other York County officials have worked to redevelop buildings in the Hanover downtown square, as part of a heritage and tourism revitalization project.
As the 150th anniversary of the battle approaches next July, Hanover officials expect thousands of tourists and Civil War buffs to visit Gettysburg and then make the short drive to Hanover to see the map. It will be modernized with new electronic lights, the asbestos encapsulated and then put back on display in a few months.
The Gettysburg map also will have an "annex" added to it, showing the Battle of Hanover, waged June 30, 1863, just one day before the Gettysburg conflict. The Hanover battle included famed Confederate Gen. Jeb Stuart, Mr. Laird said.
The asbestos on the surface of on the 29-foot by 29-foot map has to be covered and the map must be reassembled from the four pieces the park service cut it into for storage. The revitalized map will be located in a former Wachovia bank building in downtown Hanover, which is in southern York County near the Maryland border.
Mr. Roland said he saw a local newspaper article Wednesday about the National Park Service putting the map up for an online auction, which ended Friday night. So he quickly decided to try to save it.
The auction, which got only two bidders, was held by General Services on behalf of the park service. It had taken the large map out of service in 2008, when the new visitors center opened at the Gettysburg National Military Park.
The electric map was acquired by the park service in 1971 and had been located in the now-razed former visitors center. The map had been a popular tourist attraction for several decades. The old visitor center was located across a road from the famous Civil War cemetery where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in November 1863.
The park service decided not to include the map in the new visitors center, which irked many local residents and historians.
"A lot of preservationists and historians were irritated with the Park Service for wanting to get rid of the map if a buyer wasn't found," Mr. Tallman said.
The bidding was started by the Park Service at a mere $5. The second highest bid Friday was $13,590, GSA spokeswoman Gina Gilliam said Monday, but wouldn't say who made the bid. Mr. Roland said he was told late Friday he was the winner.
She said Mr. Roland has until Oct. 29 to remove the map from its current location, which is on some undisclosed government property in the Gettysburg area. Mr. Roland said he plans to go today to visit the four metal crates that contain the four pieces of the map.
He said some heavy-duty equipment, including flatbed trailers and cranes, will be needed to haul it to the old bank building in Hanover. It will be lifted onto the second floor. He wasn't sure how long it will take to reassemble the map and put it on public display.
First Published September 17, 2012 3:31 pm