An Evolution of Landscape and Meaning: The Case of Gettysburg National Military Park

Adrienne M. Ellis, Gettysburg College
Randall K. Wilson, Gettysburg College

This presentation was given at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida, April 8-12, 2014.


Interpretations of historical events are one of the key of missions of the National Park Service, and one that can be inherently bound to management decisions pertaining to the physical landscape. This project traces the history of such decisions at the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. After exploring major turning points in park management since the its creation after the 1863 battle, research gives special attention to the 1999 general management plan, including controversial efforts to re-create the landscape of July 1863. Findings speak to the increasing role of collaborative resource management practices among Park Service managers and how these, in conjunction with changes in the physical landscape, are rendering distinctive changes in the way the battle and its meaning is represented to the public.