The Gettysburg Railroad Station - U.S. Civil War - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 49.923 W 077° 13.861
18S E 309086 N 4411498
Quick Description: The Gettysburg Train Station was in operation from 1858 to 1942. It is famous for Lincoln's visit during his Gettysburg Address and serving as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 5/21/2011 12:17:43 AM
Waymark Code: WMBGW1
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 5

Long Description:

Of the Many field hospitals used during the great Battle of Gettysburg, this is perhaps the most renown. It is references on many websites, and out front there is an interpretive (part of a much larger collection which dot the Gettysburg landscape which tells about the field hospital).

The station of the Gettysburg Railroad is probably best known for its association with Abraham Lincoln on the evening of November 18, 1863, and his departure 25 hours later. According to Harvey Sweney, the arrival of the President’s train “was the signal that this was to be one of the most grand and interesting occasions that this country ever witnessed.” The head house was built in 1859 and served as the western terminus of the Gettysburg Railroad line to Hanover, Pennsylvania. According to their official website for tourism and visitors, the station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, I had to check with the museum operators and on line to confirm that this building is listed as a contributing structure to the Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District.

It was decided that a national cemetery would be built in Gettysburg, and the date for the dedication was set for November 19, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln, who was scheduled to give some short remarks at the ceremony, left for Gettysburg on November 18. Departing from the B&O station in Washington, D.C., his train was connected the Northern Central Railroad in Baltimore. At 4:00 p.m., the train arrived in Hanover Junction and continued to Gettysburg. President Lincoln and his entourage arrived at the Gettysburg station at approximately 6:00 p.m. on November 18. From there, he would walk to the David Wills House in the center of the town. Lincoln spent the night in this house, where he most likely put the finishing touches on the Gettysburg Address. (It was decided that a national cemetery would be built in Gettysburg, and the date for the dedication was set for November 19, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln, who was scheduled to give some short remarks at the ceremony, left for Gettysburg on November 18. Departing from the B&O station in Washington, D.C., his train was connected the Northern Central Railroad in Baltimore. At 4:00 p.m., the train arrived in Hanover Junction and continued to Gettysburg. President Lincoln and his entourage arrived at the Gettysburg station at approximately 6:00 p.m. on November 18. From there, he would walk to the David Wills House in the center of the town. Lincoln spent the night in this house, where he most likely put the finishing touches on the Gettysburg Address.)

The train station also has an association with the Civil War, specifically the Battle of Gettysburg. During the battle, it was commandeered and turned into a field hospital. Thousands of wounded soldiers passed through here. They were treated, then shipped out to various places throughout the country. Incoming trains coming in brought supplies, outgoing had human cargo. The bell tower (cupola) was used as a look out by troops as well.

The outside looks terrific; it has been well taken care of over the years. The bottom floor has an excellent museum which was free to visit. There was a nice miniature railroad diorama on display in the center of the room when you first walk inside the building. The museum contains artifacts found during station renovation, a diorama showing how the train station and the surrounding yard looked in 1863, and an amazing scale model of the original two-story building, which was completed in 1858. SOURCE The station is also home to the Pennsylvania Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, whose offices are located in the second floor.

Architecturally speaking, I found this station to be unique in its construction. The windows are curved and there is a pediment. The station was built in the Italianate style, with arched windows, low-pitched roofs with eaves and decorative brackets. This style, which was popular in Gettysburg during the middle of the nineteenth century, can be seen in the Adams County Courthouse and the Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse. The completed station was a two-story building with two waiting rooms in the first floor and a large open room on the second. The waiting rooms separated men from the women and children, a common practice at the time. A spiral staircase was located in the eastern part of the building. The ticket booth, which was also used as an office, was a small connecting structure attached to the southeast part of the station. A long loading platform extended from the back of the station along the tracks. The building was technically a headhouse, as it was the western terminus of the railroad line. SOURCE

Because Gettysburg was the westernmost stop on the Gettysburg Railroad line, every train that arrived had to change direction and head back east. A series of switches and sidings were used to change the direction of the train. A switch from the main line allowed the engine to pull directly behind the Gettysburg station, along a long loading platform. Once in position, the engine would back the passenger car onto a siding and release it. While the engine switched back onto the main line and reversed its direction on a turntable, the passenger car was rolled into position along the platform. As soon as the loading process was complete, the engine switched back onto the siding, connected to the opposite end of the passenger car and headed east. (Bennett, Gerald (1999, 2006). "The Gettysburg Railroad Station: A Brief History." Gettysburg Railroad Station Restoration Project, Gettysburg.)

Address:
Historic Gettysburg Railroad Station 35 Carlisle Street Gettysburg, PA 17325


Name of War: American Civil War

Type of Documentation: Historic Marker/Interpretive

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