Civil War Railroad / Gettysburg Train
The Gettysburg Railroad was founded in 1858 and the railroad station itself was erected in 1859. It had been a long and arduous struggle by the citizens of Gettysburg to get train service to their town as the plans were first put into effect in 1835.
Gettysburg was the westernmost stop on the line which extended 16.5 miles to the east to the town of Hanover. At this location, the train service extended to places such as Harrisburg, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Because Gettysburg was the end of the line in the west, a system was developed to disengage the locomotive, spin it on a turntable, and reconnect it on the other end for the train to go back from the direction it came.
The Gettysburg train station and line saw much use during the conflict as part of the Civil War railroad network especially prevalent in the north. They had many more rail lines than in the south and they were largely untouched as much of the fighting took place in the Confederate states. Troops, weapons and supplies were transported over the railways utilizing the fastest mode of transportation at the time.
During the Battle of Gettysburg, some of the fiercest fighting took place in an unfinished railroad cut west of town. Immediately, the Gettysburg train station was converted into a military hospital and housed many of the Union casualties.
As service resumed at the Gettysburg station in July, 1865, it was pivotal in the mass removal of the many Gettysburg casualties. Some estimates have the number of wounded having traveled by train through the station at around 15,000.
In November of the same year, President Abraham Lincoln arrived by train into the station, and on the next day, he delivered the famed Gettysburg Address.
The Gettysburg railroad continued to carry passengers through Gettysburg PA and into other towns until it closed for good in 1942. The advent of the automobile and growing network of roads has made the need for a rail station at Gettysburg somewhat obsolete.
Over 50 years later in 1996, the fate of the Gettysburg station was under review. The decision to restore the station to its former glory and convert it to a museum was made and funds were immediately allocated for that purpose.
Today, the Gettysburg Railroad station houses a museum on the first floor displaying artifacts representing the storied history of the station and is a must see when on your Gettysburg visit.
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