A cannon atop Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pa.

Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pa.

Noel Kline

Skyline of Gettysburg National Military Park Could Change Forever


On Tuesday, July 26 the Cumberland Township Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny an amendment to zoning ordinance that would have increased the maximum height regulations for “essential services" from 35 to 175 feet in Residential and Residential Medium High Districts.

Working through the Trust, thousands of Pennsylvania residents and preservation advocates urged the board take this action, noting it would clear the way for development to create massive visual intrusions across large swaths of the battlefield. We are grateful for your advocacy and heartened that our voices were heard.

The Background

This proposal grew out of a plan by the Gettysburg Municipal Authority to build a 175-foot water tower on Historic Herr’s Ridge that would create a massive visual intrusion on the First Day portion of the battlefield, and even  dominate the landscape at other distant iconic locations critical to the scenic integrity of the park such as Little Round Top, the High Water Mark, Pennsylvania Monument, Peace Light Memorial, and the home of President Dwight David Eisenhower.

The Gettysburg National Military Park has undergone an amazing transformation over the course of the last 20 years. From the creation of a new visitors center to the restoration and rehabilitation of the battlefield to more closely resemble its 1863 appearance. Preservation efforts have brought new land to the park and seen the Trust’s transformative restoration of Lee’s Headquarters, all of which will inspire visitors for years to come. Even this summer, Devils Den and Little Round Top are undergoing rehabilitation projects that will reestablish, preserve, and protect the features that make these segments so crucial to the battlefield and its interpretation.

These expensive and critical efforts are meant to to ensure that Gettysburg remains a place that stirs the “better angels of our nature." Imagine, if, when you visit these iconic places and look to contemplate what happened on the field of valor, you are greeted not by an incredible sunset or bucolic landscape, but a skyline of water towers and other modern structures.

While we recognize the importance of balancing preservation with development, and the need for the Gettysburg region to develop 21st-century infrastructure, this amendment was unwarranted, as it dramatically increased the long-term threat to the battlefield rather than identifying alternative solutions for one immediate need.