Buddy Secor

The Trust Restores Hallowed Ground at Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain and Eutaw Springs

Successful demolition projects preserve historic landscape for future generations

Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 x7231

(Washington, D.C.) As part of its mission to preserve, educate and inspire, the American Battlefield Trust has successfully completed several projects to restore the historic landscape of Trust-saved land, including the removal of a shuttered mini-golf course in Gettysburg, Pa., a dilapidated motel at Lookout Mountain, Tenn., and a home and assorted modern structures at Eutaw Springs, S.C. 

“It’s not enough to just save battlefield land, we want to use it to teach and inspire future generations. To do that, we sometimes have to restore the landscape as we have with these three properties,” said Trust President David Duncan. “Sites that have been compromised and corrupted by decades of neglect and development can’t adequately inspire reflection and connection to the past, and that’s why we have to restore hallowed ground.”

A mini-golf course
Mulligan McDuffers Adventure Golf & Ice Cream Parlor in Gettysburg before restoration. Tom Nank

One of the Trust’s most high-profile recent restoration projects includes the demolition of Mulligan McDuffers Adventure Golf & Ice Cream Parlor in Gettysburg. Entering Gettysburg National Military Park from the east, visitors have for years driven past glimpses of the shuttered mini-golf course. In September and October of this year, the Trust removed the dilapidated adventure park structures, hauled away old concrete, graded the land and laid down soil and grass seed to restore the earth here, the site of an important position on the Union right flank during the Battle of Gettysburg.

The McDuffers Adventure Mini Golf property today.
The restored field where Mulligan McDuffers Adventure Golf & Ice Cream Parlor once occupied important battlefield . Tom Nank

Likewise, in Tennessee, for decades, an increasingly run-down 1940s travel motel blemished approximately an acre of land next to the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, ground that played an important role in the Battle of Lookout Mountain. In June 2023, with the support of its members and donors, the Trust was able to demolish the motel and lay down sod to restore the field. 

Watch the June 2023 demolition of Lookout Mountain Lodge. 

American Battlefield Trust

Overlooking the Tennessee River, Lookout Mountain boasted a seemingly strong position for Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg and his Army of Tennessee as they kept the Union Army pinned at Chattanooga. On November 24, 1863, after the successful Union capture of Orchard Knob the day prior, Gen. Joseph Hooker ordered his three divisions to attack the Confederate left at Lookout Mountain. The Wauhatchie Pike, the main road over the mountain during the time of the battle, runs by and through this field, the route of Confederate retreat. Some Union soldiers also crossed over the tract as they began their ascension of the mountain, helping lead to Union success at Missionary Ridge the following day on November 25. 

The preservation — and now restoration — of this tract will ensure it continues to tell the history of the Battle of Lookout Mountain for generations to come.

In South Carolina, the Trust has cleared the surroundings of a spectacular, centuries-old oak tree, a witness to the Battle of Eutaw Springs on September 8, 1781, the last major engagement of the Revolutionary War in the Carolinas. Until this summer, it stood alongside modern features like a house, car port and chain link fence. With the generous help of the Trust’s members, donors and partners, especially the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, its surrounding landscape has been restored to a grassy field reminiscent of September 1781. 

A witness tree
The Eutaw Springs witness tree today sits in a field reminiscent of its 1781 surroundings.  Sarah Nell Blackwell

While fighting initially erupted a little over three miles west of the site, the morning of September 8 — when General Nathanael Greene’s column surprised a British patrol and foraging party — significant maneuvers and combat unfurled upon this land later in the day. All the while, the young oak tree stood as witness to a well-fought battle, after which the Continental Congress recognized General Greene’s exceptional service with one of only seven gold medals given during the war.

The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 56,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War across 155 sites in 25 states. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.