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Gettysburg electric map undergoing major renovations

Student volunteers from Harrisburg Area Community College’s Gettysburg campus are tackling a major renovation of the 50-year-old electric map that illustrates the Battle of Gettysburg, which was 150 years ago.

The map, which was created for the 100th anniversary of the battle, is currently in an inoperable state as a result of age, transport damage and loss of the original control console. The plan is to fix the controls and get it back on public display in the near future, according to a news release from the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce.
Spokespeople for the chamber and HACC were not immediately available for comment to discuss cost and timeline of the renovation project.
The peak period of the 150th anniversary commemoration is June 28 to July 7. Those days are expected to draw 200,000 people to the Gettysburg area, according to the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau. Gettysburg’s historic year could mean more than $1 billion for this region.
“Students involved in this project will have an opportunity to enhance their understanding of course content and deepen their interest in the content, apply skills and concepts learned in class and develop relationships with business and community leaders that could lead to future employment opportunities,” Shannon Harvey, campus vice president, said in a statement.
A new electronic controller will automate the map’s light sequence and eventually narration for visitor presentations. It also should provide the potential to run the map with or without the aid of an operator/narrator, said Tom Lepp, mechatronics instructor at HACC.
“The decision was made to refit the map with new electrical components rather than repair the existing wiring and lights due to the condition of the existing components, which are over 50 years old,” he said in a statement. “The electrical system also suffered significant damage when the map was sectioned for removal and throughout the process of moving. This left the aged wiring in need of serious repair and damaged a number of lights.
“The original lights are difficult to service, repair, and source parts for. Many lights and lenses for lights are severely damaged or missing. The replacement lights, while providing ease of service, will preserve the aesthetics of the original lamps.”
The 12-ton steel-and-plaster topographical map was assembled via a crane through windows of the proposed Hanover Heritage and Conference Center last October. It was part of the now-razed former visitors center in Gettysburg.
Local investor and developer Scott Roland bought it in an auction for $14,010.