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.”