Free tours, music scheduled in Gettysburg

Love it or hate it, Gettysburg’s busy season isn’t quite over yet. Here are some free events to keep you occupied now that the bikers and re-enactors are gone.

Tours at the Shriver House Museum

Date: July 27
Time: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., tours begin every half hour
Location: 309 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg

Residents will have a chance to learn more about the lifestyles, customs and furnishings of the 1860s during a series of free tours at the Shriver House. Cake and pink lemonade will also be on-hand in honor of George Shriver, one of the house’s former occupants, who was born on July 27, 1836. Space is limited to a maximum of 20 visitors per tour. For additional information, call (717) 337-2800 or visit

Birds with a Gettysburg Address

A rare black-billed cuckoo sits on a tree branch near Sach's Bridge in this photo from June 2014. (Courtesy of Bonita A. Portzline.)

A rare black-billed cuckoo sits on a tree branch near Sach’s Bridge in this photo from June 2014. (Courtesy of Bonita A. Portzline.)

Date: Aug. 2
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Location: Gettysburg National Military Park Ampitheater, West Confederate Avenue

Gettysburg resident and South Mountain Audubon Society member Bonnie Portzline will talk about her birding experiences in and around the park during this special evening campfire program. The program includes a sampling of Portzline’s birding photos, suggestions for local birding areas and tips about nature photography. Click here for more information.

Gettysburg Rocks

Date: Aug. 8 through 10
Times: Various
Locations: Various

Dozens of bands will perform at restaurants, bars and other venues throughout Gettysburg to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund, which provides assistance to young cancer patients and their families. For more information, and a full list of bands and venues, visit Gettysburg Rocks’ website. You can also read previous coverage of Gettysburg Rock events.

Gettysburg Music Muster

The Susquehanna Travellers, pictured here, will perform at this year's Gettysburg Music Muster. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)

The Susquehanna Travellers, pictured here, will perform at this year’s Gettysburg Music Muster. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)

Date: Aug. 15 and 16
Time: Performances start at 1 p.m. Aug. 15 and 9:40 a.m. Aug. 16
Location: Gettysburg National Military Park and surrounding locations

Civil War-inspired musicians will fill the air with song during the annual Gettysburg Music Muster. Entertainment includes instrumental performances with the fife and banjo, Victorian dance and Civil War-era ballads.  The program will begin each day at the flag pole kiosk in front of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center and will proceed throughout the day at various locations in and around the park. Click here for more information.

If you missed some of the recent festivities in Gettysburg, read more about them here: 

Police: No complaints filed during Bike Week

Motorcyclists share tattoo tales at Bike Week

Civil War groups, business owners make the best of low turnout

Gettysburg 151: Remembering the battle

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Mapping Mark Walters: All aboard

Transportation sure has changed over the years.

Where am I this week?

Where am I this week?

While “Jetson”-like space vehicles are not zipping around like once predicted, hybrid cars, electric cars and natural gas-powered cars are emerging as viable and “greener” forms of transportation.

Commercial transportation has changed as well, with once-booming railroads and shipyards churning a little more slowly than they did in their heydays.

What Adams County transportation depot am I standing at in this week’s selfie?

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Creating change

UntitledJournalists cannot help but ask questions. We regularly annoy sources with incessant inquiries about seemingly pointless and insignificant details.

And while our work can be influential, seldom do significant, tangible changes occur before our very eyes. Or at least that is how it often seems.

A few weeks back, I asked a question that brought about a change in how Adams County court administrators conduct business. They no longer list in their court lists criminal charges that were dropped by prosecutors.

Click on the image above, a screenshot of May 15 pleas and criminal bench warrants in Adams County Court. Note that under two of the defendants, their final charge is numbered “E+0.” Go ahead and say it. What the heck does that mean?

I asked Kristin Rice, public defender for Adams County, who referred my question to Don Fennimore, Adams County court administrator.

As days passed with no response, I figured it was a lost cause. And that was OK, because it was not a pressing matter and really had no adverse outcome on how I did my job. But again, what the heck does it mean?

After a few weeks had gone by, I passed Fennimore on Gettysburg’s Baltimore Street near the courthouse, and he said he was working on an answer to my “E+0″ question. On June 30, he emailed me this:

“Mark, a late response to your question about what “E+0” means on the court lists you receive.

“I’m glad you asked, because I was able to learn something about Microsoft Access and Excel. Our court lists are tied to a program that uses Access and Excel, and within those programs, “E+0″ represents a scientific notation of numbers.  This will occur in Excel and Access when the number is too large to fit in a particular field, in our case, the number being 99999. “99999” in our program indicates a charge that was once filed but is no longer being prosecuted by the affiant/district attorney.

“Since the charge that follows “E+0” is not being pursued, thanks to your asking about this, we have programmed the software to eliminate “E+0” references from future lists so they more accurately reflect what charges are being pursued in court.”

It is not quite on par with getting the president to resign or initiating a grand jury investigation that results in criminal convictions, but it felt good to know my question brought about public change.

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Re-enactors battle alongside friends, family in Gettysburg

For many Civil War re-enactors, events like the 151st Battle of Gettysburg commemorations are a family affair. And that family includes both biological kin and friends made around the campfires after the guests go home for the night.

Take the Davis family, who first took to the fields 15 years ago after their son, Andrew, became enamored with the idea of re-enacting at age 12.

Kathleen and Patrick Davis pose for a portrait at this year's Battle of Gettysburg re-enactments. The Davis family has taken place in dozens of Civil War re-enactments in the past 15 years.

Kathleen and Patrick Davis pose for a portrait at this year’s Battle of Gettysburg re-enactments. The Davis family has taken place in dozens of Civil War re-enactments in the past 15 years.

Andrew Davis, now a 27-year-old lawyer, said the hobby has become a way for the family to avoid the iPhone, Facebooks and other distractions of the modern world.

“It’s really nice to go away and not be bothered,” he said.

When he was old enough to take part in the battles, his parents decided to join him. The family has since taken part in numerous re-enactments, from Gettysburg to Bentonville, North Carolina.

One of the things that keeps them coming back year after year is the friends they make. Re-enactments are filled with people from all walks of life, said Andrew’s mother, Kathleen Davis.

She gestured toward some of their friends at the Confederate living history village: one is a fire fighter, one is a deputy sheriff and another is a small animal veterinarian. In the real world, she is an accountant, and her husband is a retired law enforcement officer.

Another friend, Dwight Dorr, is a retired Disney worker. A seven-year veteran of the re-enactments, he said the fellowship with people like the Davis family  keep him coming back year after year.

“The fighting is fun, but to me, it’s secondary,” he said.

On the other side of the Confederate village, 21-year-old Ashley Heisey said she also appreciates the time with family and friends at the re-enactments. She attended this year’s event with her mom, Alice Shenberger; her aunt, Catherine Switzer and her aunt’s fiance, Bruce Lindsay.

Read more about Switzer and Lindsay in this story about love on the battlefields

Together, this family has years of battlefield experience and no shortage of stories to tell. There’s the time when Switzer fell down a hill and almost knocked down the flypole holding up their tent, or the time when Shenberger threw the apple she was eating because a spider was crawling on it.

They’re small stories, but they’re the kind that make for fond memories after they return to life off of the battlefield.

Like the Davis family, Heisey and her kin have plenty of friends in the village. People here, she said, are less judgmental than they are in the real world.

For example, she has no problem running to the outhouse at night in her pajamas. Whereas people in other situations might judge or tell her to get dressed, she said, her fellow re-enactors either leave her alone or gently tease her in fun.

Her aunt, Switzer, agreed that the re-enactments have a uniquely welcoming atmosphere.

“You look down here, and we’re all the same,” Switzer said, gesturing to the women in their long dresses and men in their wool jackets. “We have a chance to be who we are and enjoy ourselves.”

Switzer’s fiance, Lindsay, described the living history village as the kind of place where people can leave out their belongings overnight knowing they will still be there in the morning. Everyone, he said, has his or her own role to play in keeping the company running, and they often do so with a smile.

“We’re a unit,” he said. “And we become a family.”

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Mapping Mark Walters: 151 years later

July 3, 1863, marked the third and final day of the bloodiest battle fought on American soil.

By day’s end, smoke was still clearing the landscape that had become dotted with graves and bodies after three days of fighting.

In the inaugural video installment for Mapping Mark Walters, I take a panoramic view around what point of the Gettysburg battlefield?

Update July 7
Longstreet’s Tower overlooks the land that was the site of Pickett’s Charge, the culmination of the three-day battle. And the farm on the other side of the tower belonged the President Dwight Eisenhower. It was the only piece of land the president and his wife ever owned.
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‘Gettysburg’ movie behind the scenes

By Lauren Linhard – – @LinhardReports

As all of you Evening Sun readers should know by now, the 151st anniversary of the Battle Of Gettysburg is this weekend. You should also know that it’s taking place on the outdoor movie set of the 1993 film “Gettysburg,” since that was in the paper today.


From Evening Sun archives: Gettysburg 150th

Now for something you might not know – I am a movie nerd. I actually minored in film studies with my major in journalism. So, in celebration of my love for movies and journalism coming together, today I present you with some little known, behind the scenes trivia about “Gettysburg” (courtesy of

- The movie featured more than 13,000 volunteer Civil War re-enactors who paid their own way and provided their own props and uniforms. 

- Actor Sam Elliott was so in character on the set that a production assistant was sent out before takes to warn extras that Elliot would only respond to salutes and address individuals by their rank.


From Evening Sun archives: Gettysburg 150

An exterior model of the Lutheran Theological Seminary was built for the film because of the modern buildings surrounding the real one. This model building cost about $40,000 to build. The actual Lutheran Theological Seminary is only seen in one, very carefully angled shot, when Gen. John Buford is writing the message to Gen. Reynolds the night before the battle.

The production team received the news of actor Richard Jordan‘s death while they were editing his character’s death scene.

The final scene of the movie, when Tom and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain are reunited on the battlefield as the sun sets, was the final scene to be filmed, a rare occurrence for a motion picture. It took about 12 takes to shoot.


From Evening Sun archives – Gettysburg 150

- The original working title was “The Killer Angels,” the title of the source novel by Michael Shaara, but test audiences thought the movie was about motorcycle gangs and it was changed to the broader title of “Gettysburg.”



“Gettysburg” film celebrates 20 years at 151st commemoration

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Mapping Mark Walters: Crossing the border

Years ago, area downtowns were vibrant places to be.

On what town square am I standing?

On what town square am I standing?

Urban areas hosted restaurants, shops, and attractive commercial and residential real estate.

In the 1980s and into the ’90s, middle America suburbanized, pulling investors away from downtown and into surrounding areas.

Read more about this week’s Mapping Mark Walters.

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Mapping Mark Walters: Wine and dine

What well-known restaurant is basking in the sun with me in this week's selfie?

What well-known restaurant is basking in the sun with me in this week’s selfie?

Having grown up in York and lived as an adult in Gettysburg, I think restaurants are underrated by locals.

The question, “Where do you want to eat tonight?” can be answered hundreds of ways. You don’t have to drive too far to grab a good bite.

And while chain restaurants can be convenient, I have always preferred the unique eateries.

Any idea which Adams County restaurant is in this week’s selfie?

Update, June 20

At 1 Center Square in Abbottstown, the Altland House has been a proud member of the community for decades.

Many dignitaries and famous people, including President Dwight Eisenhower, Billy Joel and Christy Brinkley have been guests at the Altland House, according to the restaurant’s website.

And while the Abbottstown location features a bar, restaurant and lodging accommodations, Altland House Hospitality Group offers its catering and dining services at nine other locations in York, Adams and Lancaster counties.

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Mapping Mark Walters: Blighted?

What piece of land am I standing on in this week's selfie?

What piece of land am I standing on in this week’s selfie?

The iPhone app defines blight as “any cause of impairment, destruction, ruin or frustration” and “the state or result of being blighted or deteriorated; dilapidation; decay.”

But in Adams County, defining something like blight is seldom as simple as looking it up in the dictionary.

The property behind me in this week’s Mapping Mark Walters installment is the topic of fervent discussion for one township that is wrestling with the definition of blight and how it applies to rural areas.

Can you identify the property’s vicinity?

Update, June 13

Located at Routes 15 and 30 in Straban Township, 3 Shealer Road has been under some serious scrutiny as of late. The proposed Gettysburg Crossing project could bring a Walmart Supercenter and other shops to the northwest quadrant of the two major Adams County thoroughfares. Of course, that is if developers can get past the project’s most recent snag. Do you think the property is blighted?

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Mapping Mark Walters: Who you gonna call?

Where was this critical selfie taken?

Where was this critical selfie taken?

In desperate times of need, people want results. And they don’t want them now, they wanted them a minute ago.

When disaster strikes, an effective response can be the difference between life and death. Seconds become precious.

If walls could talk, the building behind me in this week’s Mapping Mark Walters selfie could tell you a thing or two about those precious seconds and the horrific difference between life and death.

What building is it?

Update June 6

Located at 230 Greenamyer Lane in Straban Township, the Adams County Emergency Services facility serves as the county’s Department of Emergency Services headquarters. It is a training grounds for emergency responders and hosts Adams County Council of Governments meetings.

The county-owned building also houses the county’s 911 dispatch center, where 911 calls are received and addressed. Thanks to a timely 911 call and emergency response, a Conewago Township man who flat-lined twice after a heart attack and cardiac arrest was able to survive.

If a proposal from Adams County court administrators takes off, a new Adams County court facility would be built nearby. Also located near the 911 center is the Adams County Prison.

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