Federal legislation adds Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station and 45 acres at Big Round Top to Gettysburg National Military Park

Posted on: 12/22/2014

The Gettysburg Foundation can move forward with its plan to donate the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station and an undeveloped 45-acre parcel of battlefield land to the National Park Service now that federal legislation has added it to the Gettysburg National Military Park boundary.

Gettysburg’s Lincoln Railroad Station is an 1858 structure on the National Register of Historic Places.  It served as a hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg and the wounded and the dead were transported from Gettysburg through this station after the battle. Abraham Lincoln arrived at the station when he visited to give the Gettysburg Address.  

The Gettysburg Foundation and the park will work together to create a plan and a timeline for transfer of the properties, and an operating plan for the train station.  An anticipated date for public access and information center operations would be in the spring of 2015.

The train station will serve as a critical component in commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s visit in November of 1863 to give the Gettysburg Address.  Upon arrival at the station on November 18, Lincoln walked one block to the David Wills House, where he spent the night before riding to the newly established Soldiers’ National Cemetery to give his now famous 272 word speech, the Gettysburg Address.  In the tragic aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg, wounded soldiers departed from this train station.  Some of the dead were shipped from the station as well.  At the same time, family members arrived at the station to look for their wounded, missing and dead brothers, husbands, sons and fathers.  

In 2006, the Borough of Gettysburg completed rehabilitation of the train station but had been unable to operate it due to lack of funds.  In 2014, the Gettysburg Foundation purchased the train station from the Borough of Gettysburg. 

The 45-acre parcel at the base of Big Round Top is vacant land that abuts the southeastern boundary of the park.  Cavalry skirmishes occurred near this site and it has critical wetlands and wildlife habitat related to Plum Run.  Wayne and Susan Hill donated the property to the Gettysburg Foundation in April 2009. 

“There are so many people we need to thank for this, especially our congressional delegation, Congressman Scott Perry, U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey for their hard work and tenacity, for believing in the importance of this project and supporting the Gettysburg Foundation in getting it over the finish line,” said Joanne Hanley, president of the Gettysburg Foundation. “We also are grateful to the National Parks Conservation Association for their continued support, and to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for their generous and lead grant, for other anonymous grants and for the generosity of local resident and supporter William E. Aldrich.” 

“The Gettysburg Foundation has been an excellent steward of these two important Gettysburg properties, stepping in to preserve and protect them when their future was uncertain,” said Ed Clark, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park.  “We look forward to continuing to work with the Foundation and other community partners to develop both a short-term, and a long-term operating plan for the train station to allow public access and tell the important stories of the aftermath of the battle and President Lincoln’s visit.”

Gettysburg Foundation and NPS to Exhibit Newly Conserved Nativity Dioramas

Posted on: 12/02/2014

The Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service are bringing several Eisenhower-era artifacts out of storage for the first time in 15 years.

Beginning on December 2, 2014, visitors at the Museum and Visitor Center can view three newly conserved Nativity dioramas that President Dwight D. and Mamie Eisenhower displayed during the holiday season in the East Room of the White House.

The dioramas, gifts from Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn of Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, were hand crafted by artists Winfred S. Hyatt and Hanna Weil Fischer-Binder with additional work by Bryn Athyn Studios of Building & Architectural Arts.  In 1954, the first of the dioramas depicting the manger scene was presented to the First Family.  In 1957 two additional scenes depicting the shepherds and the wise men were also crafted and presented along with an audio narrative of the Christmas story. 

Before leaving the White House in 1961, Mrs. Eisenhower presented the three Nativity dioramas to the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church where they were displayed until 1994.  With major church renovations underway, the congregation loaned the dioramas to the Eisenhower National Historic Site for display.  Donated to the NPS permanently in 1998, the dioramas were only displayed for two years because of sustained damages. 

The NPS and the Gettysburg Foundation worked with Art Guild Inc. to complete the conservation work which included the reproduction of missing figurines, lighting repairs, securing exhibit cases, producing exhibit labels and overall structure restoration. Funding was provided by the Gettysburg Foundation, and also made partially possible by a grant from the Glencairn Foundation, a foundation established by the family of Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn.

The exhibit will be on display in the lobby of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center beginning December 2 through early January of 2015 and is free and open to the public. Gettysburg Foundation President Joanne Hanley states, “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to once again share these historic dioramas with the public and further educate our visitors about the life and legacy of President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

“These nativity scenes were so important to the Eisenhowers that after being displayed in the White House from 1954 to 1960, Mamie gave them to a local church, the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church, for continued display and enjoyment,” said Carol Hegeman, Supervisory Historian at Eisenhower National Historic Site.  “We are pleased that we can continue that tradition of displaying them each holiday season."

In addition to experiencing a glimpse into a unique piece of Presidential history from the 1950s, visitors are encouraged to visit the Eisenhower National Historic Site for the annual holiday celebration. The Eisenhower home will be decorated for Christmas, December 1-31, 2014 as it was done by Mamie Eisenhower nearly 40 years ago.

As White House Chief Usher J.B. West recalled, “Mamie Eisenhower decked the halls with more than holly.” Her hand is evident in the home’s recreated decorations which include everything from mistletoe and poinsettias to a life-sized Santa and a candy-cane covered Christmas tree. The Eisenhowers’ specially designed White House Christmas cards will also be on exhibit, along with Christmas gift prints of the President’s paintings. NPS park interpreters will be available to share Eisenhower family recollections of Christmas in Gettysburg.

The Eisenhower National Historic Site is open daily with shuttle buses leaving the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $5.00 for youth ages 6-12, and free for children aged 5 and under. Advance reservations are available and highly recommended for groups. To make reservations, please call 877-874-2478 or visit

Eisenhower National Historic Site preserves and interprets the home and the farm as a fitting and enduring tribute to the life, work, and times of General Dwight David Eisenhower and to the events of far reaching importance which occurred on the property.  Learn more at

The Gettysburg Foundation is a non-profit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg. The Foundation raised funds for and now operates the Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, which opened in April 2008. In addition to operating the Museum and Visitor Center, the Foundation has a broad preservation mission that includes land, monument and artifact preservation and battlefield rehabilitation—all in support of the National Park Service’s goals at Gettysburg.

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