In Gettysburg, An Extreme Makeover: Battlefield Edition

Jul 1, 2015

Even more than 150 years after the battle, there's still plenty at Gettysburg that kind of makes you feel like you're stepping back in time. Some things, like the stone walls that are an essential part of any Civil War landscape—those are actually the real deal. Other things are a little more kitschy, like visitors doing battlefield tours in horse-drawn carriages.

Katie Lawhon prefers to walk the battlefield. As a veteran park ranger, there aren’t too many surprises left here on the Gettysburg landscape. But you can still hear the excitement in her voice when she hikes some of the most legendary places on the battlefield.

“This is important ground,” Lawhon says, as she looks out across a storied site called Devil’s Den. “We have heavy fighting on the second day of the battle. General Hood attacked nearly a mile of open ground, uphill, against this position, and they took it.”

Devil's Den was one of the more dramatic landscapes at Gettysburg in July 1863. It was a sloped, open field, strewn with giant boulders. Soldiers would have used these rocks for temporary cover as they made their attacks. But by the 1990s, the whole area had grown up into a wall of trees. Lawhon says park rangers even had to use historic photos to show tourists what it used to look like.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner The Allegheny Front.