Gettysburg Electric Map to be Auctioned Off

Posted on June 27, 2012


Maps help us better visualize, not only present data, but past events as well.  An electric map of the Battle of Gettysburg has been educating visitors of the Gettysburg National Military Park for decades.  Using flashing bulbs and a 20-minute narration, the map presents troop movements during the historic battle.  Its last show, unfortunately, was in 2008 and now the historical map is heading off to auction.  MarketMAPS looks at the history of this unique map and its possible future. 


“There are literally thousands of people who remember the electric map from their childhood,” previousGettysburgNationalMilitaryParkvisitor John Longanecker said. “It’s a piece ofAmericana. It’s something of a symbol – an effort to teach a history lesson in a different format.”  The map was mothballed in 2009, after the newMuseum & VisitorCenteropened. Built more than 60-years-ago, the map was restored in 1963 for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. It depicts troop movements with colored lights flashing across a topographically accurate surface.  When the newMuseum & VisitorCenteropened, the map was replaced with a 20-minute movie, “New Birth of Freedom,” narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman.

The National Park Service has been charged with the job of finding the best way of disposing of the electric map, though many feel an emotional tie to the piece of military history.  “The Park Service does not own the electric map. We the people of theUnited Statesown it. They are just the custodians,” Longanecker said. “Here you have a small group of people, they’re not elected, and they want to destroy fundamental values.”

Recently, it was announced that the National Parks Service received the OK to auction the map off.  “The National Park Service will be working with GSA to put together the details of the sale,” Katie Lawhon, spokeswoman forGettysburgNationalMilitaryPark, said last Thursday. “More information will follow once those details have been decided upon.”

The map was the creation of Joseph Rosensteel, a historian and Civil War artifact collector whose family home was the battlefield’s museum for decades before they sold it to the park service in the 1970s.  The decision to auction the map was a victory for local preservationists, who hope someone can buy and restore it. But its creator’s daughter, Emily Rosensteel O’Neil, was not pleased.  “When my family sold the museum and the map, we never expected this type of end to my father’s legacy,” she said. “Outdated it may be, but it was supposed to remain under the care of the Department of the Interior.”

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By auctioning off the electric map, it may yet have a chance at restoration and a new generation of admirers.  Maps of famous areas have a certain sentimentality attached to them, and can be of particular interest to people.  However, maps of very specific areas are often difficult to find.  Luckily, MarketMAPS publishes the broadest range of US maps.  MarketMAPS has over 25 years of experience publishing and creating custom maps.  Employing the most accurate data, we can create a map of every city, county, and state.  Businesses and consumers rely on MArketMAPS to provide them with the most up-to-date information on maps with detail and accuracy.  Our variety of finishing options help preserve your map and add to its visual appeal.

Contact MarketMAPS today and discover how our maps can fit your classroom, home, or business applications.

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