Apr 13

In today’s trolley post, the trolley tracks came out of Rose’s Woods towards Plum Run in the area between Devil’s Den and Big Round Top. Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Rich Kohr is striking his classic “trolley pose” as he shows us where the tracks emerged from Rose’s Woods. This area has been recently cleared as part of the battlefield rehabilitation program. When the trolley was constructed in 1893, the area was covered with trees. The Harpers Weekly July 1, 1893 article, “Desecration of the Battlefield,” described what the constructing of the trolley tracks meant to this area: “The railway cuts straight through lines of battle, forest trees are leveled, bowlders [sic] and ledges blasted, streams are bridged and the whole character of the field is changed.” This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

We are continuing our series on the Gettysburg Electric Trolley, which existed from 1893 to 1916. In our first trolley post, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Rich Kohr took us from the Electric Power Station in the town of Gettysburg, over Cemetery Hill to Evergreen Cemetery. In our second post, Rich took the trolley out of Evergreen Cemetery, around the area of the “old” National Park Service Visitor Center, and showed how it was not allowed to continue along its proposed route on Cemetery Ridge. Our third post showed that because the trolley couldn’t travel on Cemetery Ridge, the “outbound” route needed to go to the Emmitsburg Road, where there were some other options, including double tracks at the Klingel Farm. The fourth trolley post took the trolley south along the Emmitsburg Road to where it turns on the Wheatfield Road at the Peach Orchard. The fifth trolley post took the trolley into the Wheatfield area. Today’s trolley post covers “the big fill” near Plum Run, and the worst trolley accident. To contact Rich Kohr, click here to reveal his email address.

This map shows the route of the trolley. The red line is the trolley route. The green line is the route of the Gettysburg/Harrisburg/Reading Railroad. For some time, the trolley used the Gettysburg/Harrisburg/Reading Railroad line from the Emmitsburg Road to Little Round Top to help establish a circular route on the battlefield. The blue sections are where the trolley had double or passing tracks. The white stars are the locations where we filmed videos, which we have numbered. Today’s post features videos #s 22-24. This map was created at approximately 4:00 PM on Sunday, April 12, 2009.

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In Video #22 (Videos 1-21 were shown our previous trolley posts) Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Rich Kohr is standing on the trolley bed, and points out how it emerged from Rose’s Woods and proceeded around a sharp curve towards Plum Run. This view was taken facing northwest to southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

Rich is standing in the trolley bed. We will proceed around the curve, and enter the “Big Fill” area featured in the July 1, 1893 Harpers Weekly article, “Desecration of the Battlefield.” This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

The “Big Fill” area featured in the July 1, 1893 Harpers Weekly article, “Desecration of the Battlefield.” Little Round Top is in the left background. Notice how high the trolley bed was constructed. It is high on the left, and then goes down toward the right center of the picture towards Plum Run. A bridge will be constructed here over Plum Run, which we will show you the remains of shortly. Notice the rocks in the foreground. They are still in this location today. This view was taken facing northeast in 1893.

Rich is standing on the rocks shown in the foreground of the 1893 photograph. Little Round Top is in the left background. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

We’ll show you another angle of Rich standing on the rocks. Devil’s Den is now in the background. Little Round Top is in the right background. The battlefield rehabilitation (tree clearing) has been very helpful in finding landmarks such as these rocks. This view was taken facing north at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

Rich is now standing on top of what is left of the “Big Fill.” Devil’s Den is in the left background. Little Round Top is in the right background. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

We are now standing with Rich is on top of the “Big Fill,” or trolley bed. The dirt pathway on the left of this photograph is not the trolley bed, but a drainage area north of the trolley bed. Trees at the foot of Big Round Top are in the background. Plum Run and the remains of the bridge which once spanned are approximately twenty yards behind (east of) Rich. Some of the rocks from the bridge are seen in the left background of this photograph. This view was taken facing east at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

Rich is standing on some of the quarried stones that formed the trolley bridge abutment on this (west) side of Plum Run. The drainage area is the current dirt pathway leading to Plum Run. The trolley bed is out of site, farther to the right. Before the tree clearing in this area exposed the rocks, many of us passed by these rocks countless times and did not know they were part of the old bridge that used to stand here. This view was taken facing east at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

We are standing on the other (east) side of Plum Run. The rocks among which Rich was standing in the previous photograph are to the right of Rich. Many of the rocks seen in this view are the remains of the trolley bridge. As you can tell by the large rocks on the left, they were large quarried stones. This view was taken facing west at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

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In Video #23, Rich Kohr shows the dexterity which all the guides possess as he crosses Plum Run while talking and pointing out the remains of the Plum Run Trolley Bridge. The trolley bridge and trolley bed are to the left (south) in this video. This view was taken facing west at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

We have now moved to the location where the most significant trolley accident occurred. The curve ahead (behind Rich) played a significant factor in the trolleys not seeing each other and having a head-on collision. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

Here is the first page of an account of the August 15, 1910 accident as it appeared in a local newspaper. To view both pages in PDF format, click here. This page was scanned facing south at approximately 8:00 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2009.

Here is the second page of an account of the August 15, 1910 accident as it appeared in a local newspaper. This page was scanned facing south at approximately 8:00 PM on Thursday, January 1, 2009.

We’ll get you reoriented. Rich is standing on the trolley bed, and the remains of the bridge over Plum Run are in the background. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

Devil’s Den is to the northwest of our location. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

The “blind curve” on the trolley route is disappearing behind the trees in the background. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

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In Video #24, Rich describes how the 1910 accident occurred. When he mentions the trolley “leaving Devil’s Den,” of course he doesn’t mean the Den itself. He means the trolley station/waiting area located near where the Devil’s Den restroom is located today (The Slaughter Pen area). This view was taken facing southwest to northwest to northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Rich Kohr is standing in the “blind curve” on the trolley route. The Devil’s Den Comfort Station/Restroom is in the left background. Rich is showing how the trolley bed cut into the landscape. The ground is higher on the right (southeast) than it is on the left (northwest). The Harpers Weekly July 1, 1893 article, “Desecration of the Battlefield,” described this location as the trolley bed was being constructed. They referred to those constructing the trolley as “vandals:” “After curving around to the southward of the Devil’s Den, the trolley swings abruptly northward and tears its way toward the ‘Valley of Death.’ This was the most romantic portion of the battlefield. Thick, heavy pines, making in their density a solid wall of verdure, lent a magnificent impenetrableness to the region between the Den and Big Round Top. Down the very centre of this locality the trolley vandals have hewed their course of destruction, and all the pristine beauty is gone forever, the victim of corporate greed.” This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2009.

See our previous posts on Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides:

Gettysburg Dentist Stories Part 1: Licensed Battlefield Guide Dr. Denny Forwood on April 12, 2009.
Culp’s Hill with Licensed Battlefield Guide Charlie Fennel here.
Gettysburg Guide Room: The Final Days on March 8, 2008.
Lights Out at the Electric Map on April 13, 2008.
New Guide Room at the New Visitor Center on April 19, 2008.
New Association of Licensed Battlefield Guide Office and Library Opens on August 25, 2008.
Evergreen Cemetery Headstone Damage with LBG Deb Novotny on October 20, 2008.
Camp Letterman with LBG Phil Lechak here.
Gettysburg Artillery with LBG George Newton here.
“Mammy’s Little Baby Loves Guided Tours” with LBG Charlie Fennell on November 23, 2008.
Bucktails on McPherson’s Ridge Part 1 with LBG Rich Kohr on November 26, 2008.
Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Exam 2008 on December 6, 2008.
Gettysburg Hawk Hunting with Licensed Battlefield Guide Dave Weaver on December 14, 2008.
Colonel Edward Ephraim Cross with LBG Rich Bellamy here.
Licensed Battlefield Guide Rich Kohr: William Wible’s Gettysburg Quarry on January 21, 2009.
The Gettysburg Electric Trolley with LBG Rich Kohr here.
ACHS Battle of Gettysburg Civil War Research Room with LBG Tim Smith on February 10, 2009.
Lutheran Theological Seminary Cupola with LBG Tim Smith here.
John F. Kennedy’s Gettysburg Visit with LBG Richard Goedkoop here.
Gettysburg Harrisburg Railroad with LBG Don Walters here.
Neill Avenue (Lost Avenue) with LBG Ted Gajewski here.


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