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Gettysburg is the county seat of Adams County, which consists of 21 townships and 13 boroughs. (See the side bar for some Adams County statistics.) The southern part of the county abuts the Mason-Dixon line, and the borough of Gettysburg sits at the crossroads of two national highways-U.S. Route 30 and U.S. Route 15. The Gettysburg National Military Park, which commemorates the famous Civil War battle that was fought here in July 1863, surrounds the town on all sides but along a portion of the northeast boundary.
This is a small town that fate took a hold of and never let go of. Generals Meade and Lee didn't plan a battle at Gettysburg, and President Lincoln was only asked to say a few words when he dedicated the cemetery that had been created to honor those who died fighting here. But the significance of those actions lives on, with almost two million people visiting Gettysburg annually to connect with the area's past.
Surrounded by other rural communities, Gettysburg retains its small-town ambiance despite the influx of tourists every year. The Gettysburg Times newspaper regularly prints pictures of those having a birthday that day, and divorces as well as marriages are listed. This area also has a rich cultural heritage. Gettysburg is home to Gettysburg College and the Lutheran Theological Seminary, both established in the first part of the 19th century. The college is in the northern part of town while the seminary is to the west on Seminary Ridge.
Visitors also come to see attractions other than the battlefield. The Eisenhower National Historic Site draws many who wish to see the farm where the 34th president resided with his wife, Mamie.Some come to seek out ghosts, others come to enjoy the rural landscape and nearby skiing, and still others come to attend the area festivals. And those of us lucky enough to live here don't have to travel far at all to take part in all the history and fun the Gettysburg area has to offer. Perhaps that's why you meet people who have traveled to Gettysburg year after year without fail. And maybe it's why you won't be in town long before you meet someone who decided to make the area their permanent home.
Of course, all these people enjoying themselves here can make Gettysburg quite a crowded little town. The tourist season now extends from April through December, and during the summer the attractions, restaurants, and streets are packed. But the nice part about Gettysburg is that it's still a small town not only in size but in heart. So don't be in a terrific hurry to see and do everything there is available. Stop and talk to the people who live here, who manage and work at the attractions, shops, and restaurants in town. Many are genuinely immersed in the history that surrounds them, and the stories they have to tell are really something to hear. Some have ancestors who lived here during the battle, and many know every detail of the history of the house in which they reside.
Although the residents of Gettysburg relish their history, don't be fooled into thinking they're stuck in the past. The community leaders and business people are constantly trying to strike a balance between retaining the rich history of the past while finding new ways for the town to thrive. Sometimes residents disagree on the best way to move forward, but everyone agrees that Gettysburg is looking to the future as well as the past.
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The Insiders' Guide to Gettysburg- 2nd Edition is an invitation created for armchair travelers, tourists, and locals!....One can pass through Gettysburg in minutes...but Kate Hertzog has created descriptions of all aspects of Gettysburg so much so that the residents, proprietors, employees and employers will beam with pride with this written presentation. I have read this work as if it were a novel. The descriptions traipse through bed and breakfasts, restaurants, festivals, shops, museums/historic sites, recounting conversations with locals and owners, and even provide efficient access tips and anecdotes courtesy of Kate Hertzog's detailed and folksy narration. Each entry lists an associated website to provide the latest info. Several times a year I visit my hometown, Carlisle, and annually make a nostalgic pilgrimage to Gettysburg. After reading The Insiders Guide, courtesy of Kate Hertzog's work, I have mentally created at least 5 different themed vacations to Gettysburg....I'm sure other reader's will do the same.("This is a small town that fate took hold of and never let go." p.3)