Saturday, July 3, 2010

Gettysburg and the Sound of Slots

Today marks the 147th anniversary of the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg.  I am sure that many readers have already heard about the proposed plan to build a casino next to Gettysburg National Military Park.  Preservation groups, including the Civil War Preservation Trust, have been fighting the developers of the casino.  Recently, 275 historians wrote to the Chairman of the Pennsylvanian Gaming Control Board and urged a vote against this unwarranted threat to the sacred ground around the Gettysburg.  I urge readers to get involved in the fight to halt the construction of the casino at Gettysburg, which represents yet another attempt to elevate profits above heritage.  As the historians so eloquently put it in their letter,  "there are many places in Pennsylvania to build a casino, but there’s only one Gettysburg."  Donate to the cause or write to state leaders and members of the Gaming Control Board.  It only takes a few minutes using the Civil War Preservation Trust site.  Hopefully this casino plan will go the way of the previous one.


Anonymous said...

It's a shame that the historians did nothing when they built fast food restaurants and hotels around the same area. Then of course not to mention all the bookstores and other tourist rip off sites (Ghost walks etc) in the houses that are a piece of the history of Gettysburg. If the building was a brand new Hyatt would people be complaining as much or is it because it is a Casino. I love history as much as the next person but people are out of work in the area. It might be time to revisit the merits of both.

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks for the comment. I agree that much could have, and should have been done, early on to preserve the historical landscape in Gettysburg. Unlike a place such as Antietam, Gettysburg has overly commercialized its Civil War past, which has led to the proliferation of unfortunate tourist kitsch. In any event, just because we have made mistakes in the past does mean that we should continue to ignore our current responsibilities to stop over-development near battlefields. (The struggle over the proposed Wal-Mart near the Wilderness Battlefield is a good case in point.)

You do raise an interesting hypothetical. I hope that the preservationists would be equally as opposed to the development of a Hyatt or any other commercial structure near the gates of the NMP. As for employment, it would be worthwhile for the preservation community to work with chambers of commerce to determine how best to capitalize on opportunities related to historical sites. But the construction of a casino near Gettysburg is not the right or balanced approach.