Sep 5



The Devil’s Den Restroom is located in the area known as the “Slaughter Pen.” The National Park Service wants to bury the electrical lines leading to the restroom. The trees in the background are at the foot of Big Round Top. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:45 PM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.

The Gettysburg Foundation is attempting to raise $500,000 to bury power lines including those leading to the Devil’s Den/Slaughter Pen restroom. The Devil’s Den restroom is of course, a building that did not exist at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, and more than a few people are wondering why it is still standing. Some also wonder why should money be spent, and historic ground be disturbed to bring electricity to this structure? Are there other alternatives?  Are there more worthy projects on which to spend almost $500,000?



At first glance, this seems to fit in with the General Management Plan of battlefield rehabilitation. The National Park Service is attempting to restore the battlefield closer to the way that it looked in 1863, and we have been all for that goal. The power lines are in the right background. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



However, it doesn’t take much thinking about this proposed project for us to have doubts about it. In an article in the Gettysburg Times a couple of weeks ago, the Superintendent stated, “We’ve realized that we have some pretty historic-looking roads, fields, hills and orchards, except for all of those power lines…So we want to put them underground.” This view was taken facing south at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



But what about the nonhistoric buildings on the battlefield, such as the restroom at Devil’s Den? Why is it still standing? This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



A couple of items should be reviewed. When the General Management Plan was written, removing the power lines was possibly not addressed because this area was heavily wooded. When the trees were later cut down to restore the Slaughter Pen area closer to its 1863 appearance, the restroom and the power lines were exposed. This view was taken facing east at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



Why isn’t the NPS now tearing down this building? Some believe that if one wants to tear it down, the General Management Plan will have to be opened up again. Public comment in a new plan, especially about the tree cutting, may stop the battlefield rehabilitation program, which many historians appreciate. This view was taken facing south at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



So the National Park Service, instead of tearing the building down, is willing to raise and spend a lot of money to bury the power lines to this nonhistoric structure. “Due to the rocky conditions down there (at Devil’s Den) and the need to perform underground drilling to avoid wetland impacts, the cost of this project is almost a half-million dollars,” said the Superintendent in the Times article. This view was taken facing south at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



The Gettysburg Foundation spokesperson was also quoted in the Hanover Evening Sun that the power lines were “very intrusive.” We also think the power lines are intrusive. However, we think the building receives much more attention than the power lines. What is more noticeable, the power lines or the structure? This view was taken facing east at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



More than a few visitors ask their Licensed Battlefield Guides what that building is. We have to explain that it is a nonhistoric building that is still standing despite the National Park Service’s goal to restore the area closer to the way it looked in 1863. This view was taken facing east at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



The burying of the power lines probably means that the National Park Service’s contractors for this project will significantly impact the terrain, hence the $500,000 price tag. We have seen too recent evidence of National Park Service contractors building horse trails, widening avenues, burying flank markers, redoing culverts, clearing too large paths through the woods to bury water lines, etc.. Why do we need contractors digging up this ground, and probably moving rocks and unearthing artifacts? This view was taken facing south at approximately 2:30 PM on Wednesday, August 12, 2009.



So the bulk of the $500,000 (not all of it, but according to the Superintendent, most of it) is to be raised and spent, and the ground will be disturbed to give power to a nonhistoric restroom. This view was taken facing south at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



A restroom that has one toilet for women, and one toilet and one urinal for men. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



Each restroom also has one sink. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



Again, ground will be dug up, rocks will possibly be moved, and most of the $500,000 will be spent to keep these wires… This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



…running to a structure that houses two sinks, two toilets, and one urinal. This view was taken facing south at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



We believe that the two toilets and one urinal are not adequate for the high visitation experienced by Devils Den. This view was taken facing south at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



The Gettysburg Foundation only has enough money to clean the restrooms once a day, in the morning. During high visitation periods, visitors in the afternoon are standing in line outside the restrooms, and complain about the condition of the restrooms after they are finally able to enter. This view was taken facing south at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



Are there other options here besides power lines? This view was taken facing west at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



The Park Service could put solar panels on the roof as long as they avoid the $1 million solar restroom boondoggle at Glacier National Park, or the $330,000 two hole composting outhouse at Delaware Water Gap. But even solar doesn’t solve the problem of less than adequate facilities. This view was taken facing north at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



How about Port O Potties? The McMillan Woods Campground… This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 9:30 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



…has 10 Port O Potties for an area much less visited year round than Devil’s Den. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 9:30 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



The Pitzer’s Woods Amphitheater… This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 9:30 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



…has six restrooms for an area much less visited than Devils Den. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 9:30 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



So we’re saying abandon the idea of keeping this structure a restroom, and don’t bother trying to run electricity to it. Don’t bury the power lines. Get rid of them completely. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



It wouldn’t be the first time that the National Park Service has abandoned a restroom. This structure, with a closed sign on the door is the Spangler’s Spring Restroom. This view was taken facing south at approximately 9:45 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



Spangler’s Spring is in the left background. No electricity is running to this structure. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 9:45 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



Two Port O Potties have been placed on the west side of the structure. This view was taken facing east at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



We certainly don’t think that 10 Port O Potties should be lined up outside this structure in the middle of the Slaughter Pen. But how about walking up the path (towards the camera) you see in the foreground… This view was taken facing west at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



…continue walking towards the woods… This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



…and continue into the woods. Why can’t the Port O Potties be put in there, out of sight, and along the pathway. Of course the NPS would have to clear away some of the undergrowth to make room for the Port O Potties, but that would help with, what do we call it? Oh yes, Battlefield Rehabilitation. This view was taken facing east at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



If this structure, “which sticks out like a sore thumb” has to stand, can’t the NPS have volunteers “man it” for giving information, a place for Devils Den walking tours to begin… This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 9:30 AM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.



…or a place with a basic first aid kit for the many visitors who misjudge encountering these rocks? This view was taken facing east at approximately 5:00 PM on Sunday, August 23, 2009.

See the following related construction posts:

McMillan Woods Water Line Construction Part 2 on August 30, 2009.
McMillan Woods Water Line Construction Part 1 on August 29, 2009.
Horse Trail Construction Near South Confederate Avenue on August 14, 2009.
“We Don’t Think the Park Service Wants You to Take Pictures Here on May 13, 2009.
And the Nomination for Most Thorough Burying of a Flank Marker Goes to… on November 14, 2008.
Patterson Farm Tree Cutting and the left flank marker of Knap’s Pennsylvania Battery thrown in a pile behind the NPS Maintenance Buildings on November 9, 2008.
National Park Service Does Move Flank Markers on October 23, 2008.
National Park Service decision not to move the Reynolds Avenue flank markers on October 22, 2008.
“Do the Flank Markers on Reynolds Avenue Need to be Moved?” on October 16, 2008.
Dirt and Gravel Return to the Flank Markers on October 15, 2008.
Dirt and Gravel Removed from the Flank Markers on October 10, 2008.
Dirt and Gravel Burying the Flank Markers on October 9, 2008.
Doubleday Avenue Roadwork on October 1, 2008.
Asphalt Touches the Flank Marker of the 147th New York on September 30, 2008.
Contractors trying to cover up their mistake of having asphalt touch boulders in The Loop on September 22, 2008.
Slathering the Loop With Asphalt on September 13, 2008.
Devil’s Den: Aftermath of the Construction on September 11, 2008.


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