Gettysburg’s old Electric Map in storage: Check out these photographs
A portion of the Electric Map sits in a storage container, one of four, at an undisclosed site. The map was carved up into sections when it was dismantled more than a decade ago. (See additional photographs below). Also of interest: Remember the Electric Map in Gettysburg? It is in storage but may soon be disposed of.
Remember the Electric Map experience?
You’d sit in the now-demolished amphitheater at Gettysburg National Military Park and hear the rather boring announcer tell about the Battle of Gettysburg as those little lights blinked.
By today’s standards, it was dull. But everybody remembers it.
Well, you can own that very map.
It’s up for auction, details at a government website.
There are warnings about asbestos and such, so you’d have to contend with that and its transportation to your new quarters. And it weighs 12.25 tons.
But you could have the map.
Here’s that story:
If you have an extra $5 in your pocket you might be able to buy a 12-ton piece of Gettysburg history.
Only thing is, you’ll probably have to drop another $100,000 or more to refurbish and display the beloved but beleaguered tourist display.
The Electric Map is currently up for auction through General Service Administration, an online auction site for federal property, according to an email from National Park Service spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.
As of Saturday evening, no one had placed the opening bid of $5.
The map – nearly destroyed because it contains asbestos but saved for auction after an outcry from preservationists – was put up for bid last Friday, according to the Park Service. Gettysburg s Electric Map, which dates from the 1960s, is currently up for auction online after approval of a waiver that kept it from being destroyed because of its asbestos content.
Lawhon declined to comment further on the auction.
Brendan Synnamon, president of the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, said Saturday afternoon he didn’t know the map was up for auction. Synnamon was among those pushing to save the map, which was added to the old visitor center in 1963 but contains about 3 percent friable asbestos in its plaster surface.
Synnamon said likely the group would be unable to organize the funds this week to buy the map, but added the group would help another potential bidder if possible.
The Electric Map likely won’t bring a high price at auction, he said, but added the associated costs of transportation and storage could be considerable.
The Park Service has not disclosed where the Electric Map is being stored, but has said the 29-foot square map was cut into quarters and placed into four large shipping containers. Images that accompany the online auction listing show such containers.
Synnamon said his group hopes to be a part of restoring the map, and perhaps updating it with new technology. Old electronics could be replaced, he said, and the miles of wire that made the map work could be simulated with LED and other devices.
The map used hundreds of miniature light bulbs to depict troop movements during the Battle of Gettysburg. It was added as part of the commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the battle.
In June the Park Service announced federal authorities approved a waiver request allowing it to be auctioned instead of destroyed.
Synnamon said the important thing is that it’s saved as a teaching tool for another generation. That’s a process that could cost $100,000 or more, he estimated. But it would also bring back a unique piece of local history.
“You’d be the only kid on your block to have one,” he said. “That’s for sure.”
As I write this, people have 2 days and 13 hours to bid on the map.
What’s the map’s fate if there are no bids?
“FAILURE TO COMPLY WILL RESULT IN TERMINATION OF CONTRACT, OR IF NO BIDS ARE RECEIVED, THE MAP WILL BE DISPOSED OF IN A CERTIFIED HAZARDOUS WASTE LANDFILL AT GOVEERNMENT (sic) EXPENSE,” the auction site says.
That would be a sad ending for a dull, but exciting attraction familiar to millions for decades.
Also of interest:
The website shows closeup photographs of four sections of the carved up sections of the map.
Here are a sampling of past York Town Square links to the Electric Map and still-standing-but-deserted Cyclorama building:
– Demolition unit will soon overrun old Gettysburg visitors center position.
– Q&A on new Gettysburg visitor center, old Electric Map.
– Restored Gettysburg Cyclorama arriving in new home.
– Gettysburg’s Electric Map blinking in finale season.
– Two developers have plans for a relocated Gettysburg Cyclorama building
– Gettysburg Cyclorama critics: Reviews ranged from ‘huge dinosaur’ to ‘I was captivated’.
– Half dozen groups probe acquisition of Gettysburg’s retired Electric Map.
– Who is Bob Kinsley, builder of the new Gettysburg Visitors Center?.
– Gettysburg’s vaunted Electric Map to soon stop blinking.
– Shrink wrapping in Electric Map’s future; Gettysburg tooth heads south.