Visiting Gettysburg - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-06-2016, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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Visiting Gettysburg

I am planning a trip to the Gettysburg battlefield for this May. I do not know much or anything about the visitor center, guided tours, if there are several to choose from, etc. or how to plan this. If anyone has been there and could give me some direction, I'd appreciate it.
I am not riding there, so this has nothing to do with riding. I wish it did!
Thanks!

Todd
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-06-2016, 05:42 PM
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One of the most amazing places in the country, even if you're not a historian or Civil War buff. The visitor center is exceptional although I can't address guided tours. The "route" through and around the battlefield is roughly 18 miles and the best way to enjoy it, IMHO, is by bicycle. My wife and I toured that way when stationed at Langley AFB.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-06-2016, 06:04 PM
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I actually work out of Gettysburg, but like most of the locals I try to avoid the tourist areas and unfortunately I don't take advantage of the history in the area like I should.
There are some private companies that give guided bus tours of the battlefield. I think they all load and unload at the tour center in Gettysburg. They depart like every hour or something (the tour takes a couple of hours), just buy your ticket and jump on the next bus.
If you are driving and have your own vehicle I would suggest taking the self guided auto tour. Stop at the visitors center first to collect some literature and drive your vehicle on the self guided automobile tour. There are signs and maps that will guide you around the battlefield and point out important things. The self guided driving tour allows you to stop when you want for as long as you want. Unless you are a really social guy who just needs to be in strangers company, self guided is really the way to go. There are also several points around the battlefield where rangers or historians will discuss specific events if you are interested in the details.
Make sure to visit the national battlefield visitors center first thing because that's where you will get all the good literature and where there are park rangers to answer any questions. They also have films and presentations at the visitors center (for a fee) if you want to attend those. The visitors center is pretty new, my wife and I went there a few weeks ago. We hadn't been through the battlefield for three or four years and the visitors center wasn't there three or four years ago, that's how new it is.
Even though you will be driving, wear good walking shoes because there will be lots of times you will want to walk around the monuments in the park, go up in the observation towers and check out the town. Plan on spending some time walking the streets of Gettysburg as well as on the battlefield. The town is full of history and shops and good restaurants. They have ghost walks pretty much every night if you are into that kind of thing and are there past dark.
There are also bicycle rentals and tours if you feel like doing that, I'm not sure what date they start renting bikes though. There is also an air tour company that flies you around the battlefield in a helicopter if that floats your boat.
I would suggest going to the National Park Service website, searching Gettysburg national battlefield and start there. IIRC they have schedules for various talks and educational programs, they also give directions to important places and so forth.
If you are visiting because you have a historic interest in the civil war, you may as well take a day and drive south an hour or so to Harpers Ferry and the Antietam battlefield. Lots of history and more interesting stories in that area (IMO).
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-06-2016, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Great, great info Arion and Ray. I will refer to your pointers for sure as I plan this out. I believe I will rent a car and drive in from Baltimore and spend 2 or 3 days at Gettysburg. Instead of a bus tour, the self-guided tour I think is up my alley, since I'll have a car. I toured Yorktown 4 years ago and they had a CD that you buy for the tour and it is timed as you play it along the drive. I wonder if Gettysburg has that same sort of thing. I will definitely consider the Harpers Ferry and the Antietam battlefield too.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-06-2016, 07:22 PM
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I toured Yorktown 4 years ago and they had a CD that you buy for the tour and it is timed as you play it along the drive. I wonder if Gettysburg has that same sort of thing.
I believe they do. I think I saw one in the visitors center shop.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 08:15 AM
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Great, great info Arion and Ray. I will refer to your pointers for sure as I plan this out. I believe I will rent a car and drive in from Baltimore and spend 2 or 3 days at Gettysburg. Instead of a bus tour, the self-guided tour I think is up my alley, since I'll have a car. I toured Yorktown 4 years ago and they had a CD that you buy for the tour and it is timed as you play it along the drive. I wonder if Gettysburg has that same sort of thing. I will definitely consider the Harpers Ferry and the Antietam battlefield too.
You should enjoy of those as well. Harper's Ferry is interesting - the entire village is within a National Park. You park at the visitors center and ride a bus down into the village. It's a fascinating place to wander around and the story tellers are knowledgeable and entertaining (or were when I was last there). Antietam is, like Gettysburg, best experienced by car with a lot of stopping and wandering around. It's a sprawling battlefield and can take the better part of a day to explore thoroughly. We must have taken a zillion photos and still didn't take enough to be able to remember everything we had seen - even though it was raining lightly. Step inside the Dunker Church and climb the tower near the Bloody Lane for a grand view of most of the battlefield. Oh, and notice how many cannon barrels have been placed into the ground, muzzle first. They designate the death of a general officer, and there are more than a few. Next to Gettysburg, Sharpsburg (Antietam) was probably the most horrendous battle of the Civil War. It's difficult to imagine the carnage.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 10:18 AM
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It is an odd place, not unlike other battlefields I have visited. You can just feel the ghosts.....or if you don't buy into that ghost business....you can be there know nothing of the history not be around anyone else and just get the vibe that something bad happened there.

If you get a chance visit the french battlefields. Everyone should see Verdun and that building....just haunting.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 11:24 AM
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It is an odd place, not unlike other battlefields I have visited. You can just feel the ghosts.....or if you don't buy into that ghost business....you can be there know nothing of the history not be around anyone else and just get the vibe that something bad happened there.

If you get a chance visit the french battlefields. Everyone should see Verdun and that building....just haunting.
Agree entirely. The Verdun battlefield is one of the most haunting and memorable we've ever visited. We took our parents and visitors to Verdun while living in southwest Germany to experience Forts Douaumont and de Vaux, the Trench of Bayonets, and "that building" you mentioned which is, I believe, the Verdun Memorial atop the hill at the cemetery that contains the bones of over 100,000 French soldiers. As you said, haunting.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 12:40 PM
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...If you get a chance visit the french battlefields. Everyone should see Verdun and that building....just haunting.
"that building" I believe is the 'ossuary' w/ the bones of OVER 130,000 UNIDENTIFIED WW1 soldiers when I visited it in '95. I don't remember seeing ANY ground w/out shrapnel, or other detritus of war.
SCARY...!

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2016, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
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Now just have to find a decent, not too expensive hotel.

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Last edited by Squishman; 03-07-2016 at 05:58 PM. Reason: changed text.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2016, 07:32 AM
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Now just have to find a decent, not too expensive hotel.
That is the problem....it is pretty commercial as I understand now....I have not been there in I would bet 30 years.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2016, 07:35 AM
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"that building" I believe is the 'ossuary' w/ the bones of OVER 130,000 UNIDENTIFIED WW1 soldiers when I visited it in '95. I don't remember seeing ANY ground w/out shrapnel, or other detritus of war.
SCARY...!
Yup....you see that, you see those areas all green and pretty for visitors and you really get no clue what it was really like, we all have no clue at all....but I can imagine.

I have said it before their war makes mine seem like a walk in the park....Pizza, beer and AC...for about a year....them....I doubt we could take it as a people now....we are all too soft.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2016, 11:36 AM
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When I visited Verdun I walked along a caterpillar-track (making a new road...?) where the top layer of sod had been removed, and could NOT believe how many lead-balls of around 5/8" diameter were exposed, ALL over....

Grape-shot from an air-burst...?

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2016, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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I got booked at the Sleep Inn. The more inexpensive ones looked pretty shabby. The whole trip (air, rental car and hotel) only cost me $85. I used up my credit card rewards points + $85. Not too shabby. Flying in to Baltimore.
I found several of the self-tour CD's on ebay. I just want to make sure that I get a current one, in case any changes have been made on the route.
I really appreciate the tips you guys.

Todd
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Last edited by Squishman; 03-08-2016 at 05:02 PM. Reason: edited.
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