Earlier this week I posted about the first two Top 5 Reasons to visit Lancaster, PA. Because of the shere number of photos I have for number 3, it will be a post all on its own!

#3 – History

Any American, (and a good number of Canadians!) knows the history surrounding the civil war has a HUGE root in Pennsylvania. About 3 weeks before our trip, I mentioned to my husband that I had never been to Gettysburg and that I would LOVE to go! Well, it just so happens that Gettysburg is about an hour’s drive from where we were staying, so go we did!

We did a walk through a bit of the historical downtown, this is the Historic Gettysburg Train Station, built in 1859 and saw President Lincoln come through in 1863.

James Gettys hotel, built in 1804.

The Historic Gettysburg  Hotel, now a Best Wesern, in the main downtown square – built in 1797.

Adams County National Bank in Lincoln Square, built in 1906.

Shops and restaurants on Lincoln Square.

We definitely spent most of our time at the Gettysburg National Military Park museum and visitor centre, as well as spending a good three hours on the battlefield tours.

If you ever, EVER get a chance to visit Gettysburg, please do. I am not American, nor do I have any familial ties to the country – but I sorely felt the pain of the loss and heartache of the struggle that went into the civil war.  I absolutely love the films, Gettysburg and Gods and Generals (in fact, we found them both for $3 at Kohl’s later!), and some of the stories and background they allow us to peek into, in the lives of the men involved in this war.

While I love all things history, on this particular trip it was difficult to retain a lot of the information. Between trying to keep the generals and sides straight on the battlefield, along with the facts of the events leading up to and following Gettysburg, our minds were a great boggle of information by the end.

The museum has an amazing painting, called a cyclorama, done in 1883 depicting scenes of the Gettysburg battle.

It has been on display in Chicago, North Carolina, Boston, and is now permanently at the visitor’s centre. It is quite a sight to behold!

You enter into a large, elevated room and parts of the painting are lit up with a commentary telling the climax of the battle. I tried to get a full cycle of the entire room, but it was just so big! It is quite amazing.

Inside the museum are thousands of artifacts from the war, stories of people who survived, sons who did not return, families torn apart, memories of the destruction of battle, former enemies reunited as comrades.

I have never really been a side-taker when it came to the Civil War. Something that I really came to understand more fully going through this museum is the philosophy of both sides and what they were REALLY fighting for.

While the North came out on top, both North and South suffered a lot, and still bear the scars to this day.

While out on the field, the picture of the battle started to come together, in somewhat disjointed pieces, based on how much information was already swimming in our heads. We had purchased the guide CD, and I am so glad we did, or else it would have all been meaningless.

From the Rebel’s viewpoint on Seminary Ridge….

…to the Yankee’s from the top of Little Round Top….

…to the vast number of memorials….


…and plaques…

…history came alive out on those hills!

We also spent some time at the Gettysburg National Cemetary, where not only the lost of the Civil War are buried, but also other world wars.

So many graves unmarked.

I was moved to feel incredibly grateful for the great sacrifice that so many have and will make to protect our countries. It is a sacrifice I do not think that I could ever stand to make (especially as a mother!), but which so many have courageously done.

Lancaster County is filled with many other historical sites – almost every town has some historical building or street and stories to go with it. When our kids are older and more understanding, we will definitely be going back!

Stay tuned later for the third and final installment of Top 5 Reasons to Visit Lancaster, PA.