A Handbook for Managers of Cultural Landscapes with Natural Resource Values Conservation Study Institute
Trostle Farm at Gettysburg NMP, NPS photo by Katie Lawhon
Trostle Farm at Gettysburg NMP, NPS photo by Katie Lawhon



The Issue


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Sickles monument at Gettysburg NMP, NPS photo by Katie Lawhon
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Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Contact: Superintendent

Gettysburg National Military Park
97 Taneytown Road
Gettysburg, PA 17325

NPS photo by Katie Lawhon
Pennsylvania Memorial

Introduction to the Site as a Cultural Landscape: Recognizing Cultural and Natural Resource Values

Gettysburg National Military Park is composed of historic and designed landscapes that are nationally significant and contribute to the story of the battle of Gettysburg and its consequences. These landscapes include the battlefield, which is superimposed by commemorative avenues and monuments, and the Soldiers' National Cemetery. The park and the cemetery are listed as two districts on the National Register of Historic Places, with commemorative features of the battlefield listed as part of the park district. The park has also prepared a draft National Historic Landmark nomination for the battlefield and the cemetery.

NPS photo by Katie Lawhon
Trostle Farm Lane after tree removal.

The hills and ridges, roads, buildings, fences, woodlots, and orchard of the 1863 battlefield landscape were the settings and often the contributing factors that helped determine the battle tactics, the movements and positions of the armies, and the outcome of the battle. Natural processes have resulted in changes in many of the features over the past 135 years. As an example, areas that were thickets have grown into mature woodlands, and open agricultural fields into mature forest.

William Saunders designed the Soldiers' National Cemetery to represent both the equal sacrifice of those who died in battle, and the equality of the states they came from. The cemetery has been altered over time with the addition of graves of veterans of later wars in newer parts of the cemetery, and changes to accommodate modern maintenance methods.

NPS photo
Breastwork, part of the defensive line of the battlefield

The avenues and monuments of the commemorative park overlie the battlefield, and mark the lines of battle of the Union and Confederate troops. Although many small-scale elements, such as commemorative fencing, are gone, the major structural elements—the avenues and monuments—remain today.

The park has 148 historic buildings, including barns, farmhouses, and outbuildings, and roughly 2,500 individual structures, such as monuments, markers, gravestones, and stone walls, that reflect its history and contribute to its national significance. The park also contains archaeological resources representing both prehistoric and historic periods.

At Gettysburg, the cultural and natural landscapes are strongly intertwined. Many of the geologic features of the landscape influenced troop movements and strategies. During the progress of the battle, both armies positioned themselves on ridgetops. Large boulders provided concealment; in many areas, soldiers were unable to entrench themselves because of the shallow soil. Most of the original forest that covered Gettysburg was cleared for agriculture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and roughly 35 percent of the park is still in agriculture today through an agricultural leasing program. There are no federally listed rare or endangered flora or fauna species known to be present within the park, but the park is in the historic range of the bog turtle, which was recently listed as threatened. The Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory lists 16 species of flora and fauna within the park boundaries that are considered to be threatened, endangered, or species of special concern.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Gettysburg National Military Park

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park

The Presidio:
Crissy Field

The Presidio:
Presidio Forest

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Printable PDF Version of this Case Study

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