H.R. 4395: To Revise the Boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park to include the Gettysburg Train Station

H.R. 4395

To Revise the Boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park to include the Gettysburg Train Station

Date
March 16, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 4395 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) on December 16, 2009, to the House Committee on Natural Resources. The Committee passed the bill by voice vote as amended on February 24, 2010.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4395 would expand the boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania to include the train station at which President Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver the Gettysburg Address. The bill authorizes the Interior Department to purchase the property from a willing seller only after all other efforts to acquire the land without cost to the government have been exhausted. The bill would also expand the park's boundaries to include 45 acres in Cumberland Township, PA., adjacent to the current park boundary where an owner has expressed a willingness to sell to the National Park Service. The committee report notes that this parcel of land is adjacent to the current park boundary, along the southern base of Big Round Top and part of the Battlefield Historic District, and was the site of cavalry skirmishes associated with the main battle.

Background

The critical Civil War battle at Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863. Some of the most intense fighting of that first day occurred along a nearby railway road cut. Later, the Gettysburg train station was pressed into use as one of the first field hospitals. After the battle ended, local residents established a national cemetery for the Union dead. President Lincoln arrived by train at the station on November 18, 1863, and the next day, during the ceremony to dedicate that Soldier's National Cemetery, delivered what has become one of the best known and loved speeches in American history. In 1895, Gettysburg National Military Park was established when the property was transferred to the federal government. In 1933, administration of the site was transferred to the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service.

H.R. 4395 would expand the boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania to include the train station at which President Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver the Gettysburg Address. The railway station, built just four years before the battle, is now owned by the Borough of Gettysburg and operated by the National Trust for Historic Gettysburg. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service would acquire the train station property from the Borough. H.R. 4395 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to purchase the property from a willing seller only after all other efforts to acquire the land without cost to the government have been exhausted. It is expected that local community partners including the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau will provide staffing for the site while the National Park Service will be limited to covering utility costs.

The bill would also expand the boundaries to include 45 acres in Cumberland Township where the owner has expressed a willingness to sell to the National Park Service. This parcel is adjacent to the current park boundary, along the southern base of Big Round Top and part of the Battlefield Historic District. It was the site of cavalry skirmishes associated with the Battle of Gettysburg.

 

Cost

CBO estimates that the cost of the bill will be about $1 million over the next two years, assuming the availability of appropriated funds, to purchase the train station and conduct minor development projects at the added sites. CBO estimates that annual costs to operate and maintain the new properties after that time would be minimal because the train station would continue to be operated by local or nonprofit organizations, and the Plum Run acreage would be left undeveloped.