BY AHNA WILSON / APRIL 2018
Spring is arriving in Gettysburg and the Eisenhower National Historic Site staff are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Black Angus calves, blossoming cherry trees, and the steady increase of visitors arriving via the Eisenhower National Historic Site Shuttle bus. Similar to the weather in spring, the site is in a state of transition. Long serving, dedicated Park Rangers Andy Tarbet, Rick Lemmers, and John Joyce have retired, opening opportunities for the next generation of Park Rangers to take up the mantle of interpreting the Eisenhower family and the life, work, and times of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The NPS staff at the site are excited to explore new programs for the public, experiment with new ways to reach out to Cumberland Township and the Gettysburg community to work together to understand what the visitor experience is going to look like for the next five to 10 years.
If you are able to visit the site this spring and summer, you will definitely see some of this transition in progress. In the Reception Center, site Curator Mike Florer has redesigned the exhibits and included an exhibit on the development of the Eisenhower home. Interpretive staff Alyce Evans, Dan Vermilya, Dennis Flake, and Jon Swain are developing new program topics and will be exploring additional interpretive walks that will focus on President Eisenhower’s impact to the Gettysburg community and the development of the Gettysburg National Military Park during his two presidential terms.
There will also be physical changes to the Eisenhower Farm. The Eisenhower Bank Barn will undergo preservation maintenance to replace the metal roofing on the east side while timbers on both east and west sides will be repaired. The Quonset Hut will also be getting preservation treatment to the unique bowed roof in the form of a new roof coating and repairs due to the damage of falling limbs from the catalpa trees. If you visit, you will notice that some areas will not be accessible due to the work being performed. This will be a slight inconvenience but in the long run, it will help preserve these structures for future generations of visitors.
Even as the summer season inevitably winds down that does not mean that work for site staff will slow down. In the late summer, we will be working together to brainstorm what the visitor experience will look like for the next five to 10 years. Two separate but connected planning processes will be undertaken by park staff. First is the continuation of the Visitor Use Management Plan, staff will review how visitors access the site, what is available for them to do once they have arrived, and how visitors to the site impact the resources the National Park Service is tasked with preserving. The second, is a Long Range Interpretive Plan. This planning document will identify the site’s interpretive themes and develop one- to three-year goals for enhancing the programs delivered to the public by the park rangers in the division of interpretation.
Begin your Eisenhower visit at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg. Entrance to the site is by shuttle bus only. Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis for the tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Advance reservations are also available by calling 1-877-874-2478. The fees are: Adults $9.00; ages 6-12, $5.00.
Ahna Wilson is the site manager at Eisenhower National Historic Site.