Proposed casino near Gettysburg National Park denied license

The National Parks Conservation Association is applauding the decision of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to deny a license to a proposed casino near Gettysburg National Park. The Board felt that the gambling establishment, which would have opened less than a half-mile from the park, would be at odds with the solemn historical legacy and family friendly environment at Gettysburg.

The proposed casino sparked a great deal of debate in the communities surrounding the park. It was believed that it would bring a much needed boost to the local economy and provide new jobs, but opponents called the plan an insult to soldiers that fought and died there. The Mason Dixon Resort & Casino was to include 600 slot machines and 50 table games in its bid to lure visitors through its doors.

The decision comes as the park kicks off a series of events to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg is seen as the definitive turning point in that war, when Union forces turned back an invasion of Confederate troops, led by Robert E. Lee. It is believed that both sides combined for more than 51,000 casualties over the three day battle, which ultimately led to the North claiming victory over the South. President Lincoln traveled to the site some months later to dedicate a national cemetery there. His Gettysburg Address would become one of the most famous speeches in history.

So what do you think? Would a casino so close to Gettysburg diminish the historical events that happened there? Would it be an insult to those soldiers or is the need for economic development more important than that legacy? Personally, I’m glad that the casino was voted down. In my opinion, there are plenty of places to build a casino further away from a place that should be seen as hallowed ground.

[Photo credit: National Park Service]

Opposition growing to Gettysburg casino

The fight for the future of Gettysburg National Military Park is heating up once again. Four years ago, the local community and thousands of history buffs stopped plans to construct a casino on the outskirts of town, and now a new attempt to build a casino is starting the battle once again.

David LeVan, who is behind the casino project, says it will bring much-needed jobs to the area, which despite getting more than a million visitors a year has a spiraling unemployment rate. Opponents say it’s disrespectful to the sanctity of the historic site and that casinos are “predatory” businesses that rarely deliver the economic boom they promise. The anti-casino group has set up a website and an online petition.

The Evening Sun, a regional paper, conducted a poll and found the majority of residents approve of the casino, but the poll was widely criticized by casino opponents as biased, prompting an angry editorial defending the poll.

It’s difficult to see who will win, but in the meantime you might want to check out some of these lesser known battlefields, none of which have casinos. Yet.%Gallery-73514%

New Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center grand opening this weekend

Nearly two million visitors visitors come every year to explore the Gettysburg National Military Park to learn about both the Civil War and the infamous 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. But two million visitors is a lot, and in order to better accommodate them, new facilities had to be built; in order to expand educational opportunities to visitors and to highlight the historical importance of the site, the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service therefore pooled together $103 million and constructed a new visitor center.

Although it opened in April 2008, the new Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center kicks off its official grand opening celebration tomorrow, Friday September 26. The new visitor center has an extensive collection of artifacts and archives. And like any good visitor center, there are plenty of interactive displays, complete with a voice theater for readings from battle participants — well, people acting to be them.

The grand opening also marks the debut of the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting. A colossal circular oil painting, the Cyclorama is the only one of its kind in North America. The painting has been undergoing a $15 million restoration effort for the last five years; that’s certainly one expensive face lift worth seeing.

The grand opening is set to start at 11 a.m, and even Governor Edward G. Rendell will be making an appearance. You can find a full schedule of events here.

The Battle of Gettysburg: Save the electric map before it’s too late!

Add this one to the “Save the ____” list.

There’s a group out there that has created a Web site aimed at saving the 40-year-old electric battle map at Gettysburg National Military Park, which is scheduled to be dismantled and put into storage when the old museum there is demolished next year.

The map has been a perennial park favorite, lighting up to show visitors key troop movements at important junctures at the famous Civil War battle. Thousands of Civil War buffs have been able to better visualize Pickett’s Charge over the years because of it.

A new museum and visitor’s center opened at Gettysburg last month, complete with the latest technology that, park officials say, will bring the battle home to visitors like never before. But there’s a small army out there who says new technology be damned: the 30 x 30 electronic map (complete with more than 600 lights), invented by some guy in Connecticut, is one of a dying breed of old school Civil War displays, like the Cyclorama in Atlanta depicting Sherman’s men torching the city.

The Save the Electric Map homepage is aimed at those out there enraged that a crowd favorite has been taken out of commission at Gettsyburg (though park authorities are not ruling out bringing the map back in some capacity). There are phone numbers and ways to take action. And the guy on the homepage looks like Robert E. Lee. Kind of.