The Gettysburg National Tower, Part 2 (1/18)

BY ELSIE D. MOREY / JANUARY 2018

Ottenstein was ordered off the construction site by John Maitland as Ottenstein was operating on the Maitland property. Maitland said the bulldozers were on the Stonehenge lands and Ottenstein had stripped an area of 100 feet in diameter and several feet long of hundreds of trees and vegetation which caused considerable damage on the Stonehenge property. Maitland did say the land was for sale but Ottenstein had never discussed buying it. With this problem, Ottenstein moved the tower site to be built behind the Home Sweet Home Motel in Colt Park. This was purchased land situated at the intersection of Long Lane and Johns Avenue designated for commercial use.

William Musser, president of the Colt Park Development Corp., stated in November 1970 that the sale would certainly take place. Henry Heiser, attorney for Concerned Citizens of Adams County spoke on the possibility of a law suit.

A class action suit was filed in Adams County Court by John Tulley and George Olinger for an injunction to block construction of the tower in Colt Park. Meanwhile new permits were granted by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Labor and Industry to Ottenstein for his reapplication for the new site. The FAA permits states that Ottenstein expects to complete the tower construction by spring, 1972. In spite of the legal action, in May 1971 Ottenstein poured the footers for the structure.

Governor Shapp filed a court action to block construction of Ottenstein’s “Tower for One Nation” overlooking the battlefield. The untested legal basis for this suit is a section of the Pennsylvania’s Constitution that states the Commonwealth must protect the people’s right to clean air, pure water, and to preserve the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. This court action would be the result of an agreement with the Department of Interior and Ottenstein. The agreement gives permission to build the tower at the rear of Stonehenge lands. Ottenstein traded three parcels of land in Colt Park. In exchange for donating the land Ottenstein owns in Colt Park to the NPS, Ottenstein will receive a 22 foot right of way across government land ‘for the life of the tower operations” with a revocable permit to use a one-way right -of way from the Taneytown Road. Ottenstein also agreed to blacktop and maintain a 12 foot one-way vehicular access and to construct and landscape a pedestrian walkway.

The tower opened on July 27, 1974 and served the public until a law was passed in 1990 that claimed the land of the tower was part of the NPS. A federal judge gave the Park the right to seize the tower itself with a 3 million dollar compensation going to the owners. The tower was demolished with explosives by Controlled Demolition Inc. on July 3, 2000 the 137th anniversary of the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Elsie Morey is chairman of the board of directors of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.