This video is the third in a series of cultural landscape videos produced by the National Park Service (NPS) Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (OCLP). The video is made possible by financial support from the NPS National Center for Preservation Technology and Training and through the efforts of digital media production intern Vanessa Hartsuiker, whose internship with the Olmsted Center was supported in partnership with the National Council for Preservation Education.

To view more videos in the series click here.


Tim Layton: Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park System to preserve and protect the battlefield from July 1st to July 3rd 1863 that marks a major episode in the American Civil War and marks the furthest north advance of Confederate troops during that war.

1863 map of a portion of the battlefield

Map of a portion of the battlefield depicting landscape features at the time of the battle.

2014 Map a portion of the of the battlefield

Map of a portion of a battlefield showing the location of removed woods and rehabilitated thickets.


In 1999 the park completed their General Management Plan (GMP), which is a publicly reviewed and vetted planning document that provides direction for the next fifteen to twenty years at the park, and at Gettysburg National Military Park that document was very specific about the next steps the park would take to preserve and enhance their landscape, specifically looking to rehabilitate landscape character to the 1863 battlefield.

Zachry Bolitho: Prior to the GMP implementation, when you would visit Gettysburg, you’d see these large sweeping agricultural fields, and the GMP really identified strategies to get to what it looked like more closely in 1863, which were smaller field patterns. Essentially it went from large field patterns to a mosaic of smaller field patterns.

Tim Layton: We also didn’t have this major feature that proved to be an obstacle and potential cover for both troops from the Union side and the Confederate side. Following the GMP, the park rebuilt seventeen miles of fencing to represent those historic field areas and also to be able to interpret and to convey to the visitors a major feature in the landscape that impacted the outcome of the battle.

View from a cannon on a hill down to a wooded landscape

View of battlefield before tree clearing

Winona Peterson: In terms of the woods, they weren’t managing them as woodlots, the way they would have been historically managed and so we had woods all over the place where there should not have been woods and so we actively went in and removed woods, removed trees, hundreds of acres of trees, and that really was probably the largest transformation as a result of this landscape rehabilitation.

View from a cannon looking down on a landscape where many trees were removed

View of battlefield after tree clearing

 Barbara Finfrock: I have been brought to tears many times when I  have seen some of these things, and I am rather a sentimental sort, but I am sorry in one way that people who come today can’t actually see some of the way it was, because they don’t have as much of an appreciation. I never could envision what it would be like. We would hear guides who do interpretation and they said, “Oh we’ll have to do everything over again, because now we can really see what we could not see before.”

Chris Gwinn: One of the things that’s been tremendously helpful to me, is seeing all the orchards that have been replanted across the landscape, because the orchards are placed there by the farmers that live there, they’re used by the farmers, they’re sold and little things like that that you wouldn’t think a whole lot of is a great way for the staff here to talk about the impact of the battle on the lives of the people who call Gettysburg home.

View of a young replanted orchard.

Randy Krichten: We planted approximately 118 acres, I think, about 40 different orchards here in the park, some of the orchards are 6 trees and less than 1/10 of an acre and our largest orchard is about twenty-six acres, and it has about 700 trees in it.

Tim Layton: Given the tremendous amount of work the park completed between 1999 and 2014 to rehabilitate the battlefield landscape, there was a risk that the institutional knowledge that rested with park employees could be lost, the park asked the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation to prepare a Cultural Landscape Report Record of Treatment (Volume I and Volume II) to capture the information that provide the foundation for the work, as well as specific details about the work that was implemented.

Elle Lamboy: I think park preservation matters, because without it, the lessons and our history would be almost impossible to carry on and withstand generations. Park preservation helps keep the story relevant and when you come to Gettysburg and you stand on the grounds, there’s just something about the power of place.

Chris Gwinn: And so much of what is at the heart of what Gettysburg is about and what the American Civil War is about, are things that we still deal with as a country every single day. What is the role of the United States government, the federal government, and lives of everyday people? What are the issues that we’re dealing with today? We’re dealing with issues of race and ethnicity, and who gets to be an American. What does it mean to be a citizen? And all these issues are at the heart of the American Civil War, and really they’re there at the heart of why the Battle of Gettysburg is even being fought. I think Gettysburg, even though you know it’s a century and a half ago, and sometimes in our minds we relegate it to the kind of the dusty corners of our national history, so many of the issues that that war was over are still incredibly relevant to us today.


Tim Layton is a Historical Landscape Architect with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation. He also authored the Cultural Landscape Report for Gettysburg National Military Park, Record of Treatment.

Zachary Bolitho is the Chief of Resource Management at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Winona Peterson is the Cultural Resources Program Manager at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Barbara Finfrock is the Vice Chair of the Gettysburg Foundation.

Chris Gwinn is the Chief of Interpretation and Education at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Randy Krichten is the Biological Science Technician at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Elle Lamboy is the Vice President of Philanthropy for the Gettysburg Foundation.

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