Half dozen groups probe acquisition of Gettysburg’s retired Electric Map
Students watch the Electric Map at the former Gettysburg National Park Visitors Center in its final months of operation. Background posts: Gettysburg’s vaunted Electric Map to soon stop blinking, Gettysburg Cyclorama, with new shape, set for Sept. display and Shrink wrapping in Electric Map’s future; Gettysburg tooth heads south.
The Electric Map, so familiar to visitors of the old Gettysburg National Military Park Visitors Center, is collecting dust in its familar room awaiting the carving knife and storage.
That is, unless one of several groups that have asked about this Gettysburg artifact successfully acquire it.
Seems like this is the last opportunity for someone to acquire it for public use before it is sawed into sections and mothballed… .
A York Daily Record/Sunday News story (8/31/2008) updates the Electric Map’s status, which basically calls for its dismantling this fall and the old visitors center building to come down in December:
In a few months, Gettysburg’s Electric Map will be cut into pieces and sent to storage where it will stay until a new use for it is found.
The map was a staple in the former visitor center at Gettysburg National Military Park for decades until the center was closed in April when a new museum and visitor center opened.
Katie Lawhon, spokesperson for the park, said the roughly 30-square-foot map will likely be cut into three sections to make it easier to transport sometime in October or November. The old visitor center is slated for demolition in December, Lawhon said. The land that it’s on will be transformed back to the way it looked during the battle.
Lawhon said some of the material used to construct the map in the 1960s contains asbestos, so an asbestos mitigator will have to take steps to ensure fibers won’t become airborne when the map is cut.
The asbestos, which was used to coat the plaster that makes up the map, is covered by paint.
“I guess they used it sort of as a protective cover,” Lawhon said of the asbestos.
Since the old visitor center closed, Lawhon said, a few people have inquired about the map. Lack of room at the new center, the map’s outdated technology and what was perceived as a “boring” exhibit are the reasons why the map was retired, Lawhon said.
“Our new museum and visitor center is a way to tell the story of the battle that the map did,” Lawhon said.
The new visitor center features a series of films, interactive exhibits and displays.
But Jon DeKeles of Post Falls, Idaho, said the map itself is a piece of history and should be updated with new technology and featured as an exhibit at the park.
He started a Web site, savetheelectricmap.com, in April in an effort to save the map.
DeKeles said the map was a valuable educational tool that allowed visitors to see how the battle played out through the use of lights and a narrative played over a sound system.
“Nobody saw the historical importance of the map,” DeKeles said. “I don’t understand why something that so many people found valuable needed to be removed.”
The park service is currently entertaining inquiries by six potential groups that are interested in acquiring the 12-ton map.
Lawhon said the park would donate the map to a nonprofit or governmental body that will use the map for educational purposes. The new owners would be expected to pick up some of the costs associated with removing the map.
SEE MAP ONLINE
The Electric Map might be gone, but John DeKeles, a map enthusiast who attempted to save the relic, posted videos of a map show on YouTube. For a link to the YouTube videos, check out savetheelectricmap.com.