Greetings Cosmic Americans!
I miss the electric map. The first two times I ever went to Gettysburg I made sure to keep a time slot open to catch the show...it all its glory. The original map dates back to the 1930s, it was refitted and updated in the 1960s, and entered the National Park Service in the early 1970s. It was spectacular it its simplicity...harnessing all the technology of the mid-twentieth century: multi-colored light bulbs. Millions of people have been charmed by the direct and well paced, if somewhat quaint, narration. I couldn't get enough of it.
In April 2008, under the direction of Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent John Latscher, the map closed to the public. Here is what he had to say to the Gettysburg Times concerning his decision:
“My personal reflection, when I first saw it in the 1990s, was that it was boring - I thought it took far longer than what it should have to tell the story that it was trying to tell, and it was telling that story in a fairly antiquated means,” said Dr. Latschar. “But there’s also another aspect to my opinion: I’m red-green-brown color blind…so I have a hard time distinguishing the lights. It’s something that people weren’t thinking about in the 1930s.”
So there you have it. And I still miss the map. Oh sure, it was a little cheesy - but thinking of it brings back fond memories of my first trips to the battlefield. Somewhere in my archives, I have a cassette tape of the narration. I need to dig that up one of these days and give it a listen. As far as I know...the map has now been disassembled and is in storage somewhere in Gettysburg. I asked around last year at the CWI conference, and nobody knew where it might be.
Feel free to chip in your opinions on the map...good or bad.