Thursday, October 22, 2009

Superintendent vacancy at Gettysburg

As you might have heard over the past day or so John Latschar, Superintendent at Gettysburg, has found himself in a bit of trouble over sexually explicit photos found on his computer. This morning it has been reported that he has been reassigned to a desk job within the National Park Service. Which means that there is an opening at Gettysburg.

Dear Jonathan Jarvis,
As you have probably read events for the Civil War's sesquicentennial have started to happen. The first event was the recent retracing of John Brown's night march to Harper's Ferry that helped bring the impending conflict closer to the minds of all Americans. And now you have a superintendent vacancy at one of the crown jewels of the National Park system, Gettysburg.

The most recent superintendent, John Latschar, did a tremendous job in returning the battlefield to its 1863 appearance. I know the locals and environmentalists didn't always agree with him but Gettysburg historians are generally very pleased with the condition of the field.

But this work is not done. It would be very troubling if the next superintendent came in and erased all of the hard work that has been in the recent years returning the battlefield to its original appearance. The work must continue. But there is an opportunity here to do so much more.

If you hire me to be the next superintendent I promise that by Gettysburg's sesquicentennial you will have a battlefield more closely resembling its 1863 appearance than at any time since then.

Here is my plan:
First we must continue the work of cutting down woodlots that were not there in 1863 and replanting the woodlots and orchards that have since disappeared.

Second, we should make an annual effort to plant each field with the same crop that it was at the time of the battle.

Third (and my most revolutionary step) we should remove from the battlefield area all things that would not have been there in 1863, with a few exceptions. The monuments, markers and tablets will remain of course, as well as the cemetery and museum. But then all concrete roads and power lines should be removed. Any building in the area between the first day's fight and the southern part of the battlefield that was not there on July 3rd needs to be removed. I realize this means a lot of gas stations, hotels, homes and restaurants will need to be removed but they can be relocated on the periphery. We then will need to build 2 small visitor's centers on the edges of the battlefield (most likely on near York Pike and Highway 15, and another west of the battlefield on the Chambersburg Pike) where people can park their cars and then choose to enter the park by foot, horse or buggy. The only place modern transportation will be allowed is on the Baltimore Pike between the current visitor's center and Highway 15.

I know my plan is expensive and will be met by opposition by people who will be forced to relocate. But they live in modern intrusions on the battlefield, the battlefield was there first, they choose to live in Gettysburg and many probably picked it for its historical value. Its time to return that historical value. We can create a battlefield that very closely resembles the way it was those three momentous days in July. People will flock to Gettysburg. Even if they recently visited the park they will want to come again to see its improved look. This increased visitation will allow us to slash the cost of the museum (and cyclorama and movie) and make family vacations more affordable. The new transportation visitor centers will also have some display room for artifacts so that more of the huge Gettysburg collection can be shown.

Thank you for your consideration.

Nick Kurtz


Joel said...

good luck on this one Nick

Slamdunk said...

The Mrs. and her father just returned from a day trip to the park and were impressed with the restoration efforts done or being done.

Well argued points. Though, I don't think number three would fly in a fantastic economy with ample public and private funding available--the complete opposite of the current situation.

It would be interesting to see what marketing data support or weakens your position that historic rennovations would increase attendance.

Nick said...

I have no marketing data, I just figure that people (especially buffs) would flock to see a Civil War battlefield that as closely resembled its 1863 appearance as possible. Like a giant living history park. If I'm wrong at least the Gettysburg historians would have a perfect field to visit.

STAG said...

It worked at Fortress Louisbourg. Also gave a lot of people jobs as they rebuilt the old fortifications as "period" as possible.