Hello Everyone! I hope you are having a great weekend. We have taken it a little easy this weekend since the last two weeks have been super busy with my visiting friend and a camping trip. We went to our first Pennsylvania State Park and spent a day touring the Gettysburg Battlefield.
Caledonia State Park, near Chambersburg, PA, has lots of amenities, especially for day visitors. There is lots of tent camping but the sites with water and electric hook ups are limited. When I made our reservations, there were only a few sites left, so ours (site no. 15) was not the best. It was level side to side, but not front to back. The tongue (the front hitch) was as high as it would go and we still weren’t quite level.
I often use an electric frying pan and griddle for cooking and we had to get creative this time with leveling the camp kitchen and pans. The sites were also a little closer than what we have been used to, but overall it was a fun camping experience. The park has a wonderful picnic area with a stream going through it and a nice playground. It also has a really nice pool which is closed for the season because they couldn’t find enough workers to open it. The campground was about a third full during the week, but I wonder if it would have been busier if the pool had been open. It was only an hour and a half drive for us, and there are several other state parks nearby, so I’m sure we will return to this area.
We spent our first full day at Gettysburg National Military Park. There is so much more to do there than we could fit into a day. We chose to do the Battlefield driving tour and save the museum, Cyclorama and downtown Gettysburg for another day. The driving tour took us through parts of the town and we did take a break and eat lunch at a local brewery. As you’ll see from the pictures, it was a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid 70’s. Perfect for getting in and out of the truck and walking parts of the battlefield.
I’m not even going to try to explain any of the battles except the ridge lines. There were two, Seminary Ridge, occupied by the Confederate Army, and Cemetery Ridge, occupied by the Union Army. The purpose of the battles were for the Confederates to take the Cemetery Ridge and drive the Union Army out. The Union Army held and after 3 days of fighting, the southerners retreated back to Virginia. I’ve been reading Killer Angels by Michael Shaara to help me understand the battle. I had finished the first day by the time we visited, but even reading that much helped me understand what we were seeing.
Our first stop took us through the first day where the Northern Army Calvery met the first corp of Southern soldiers. That is the Seminary in the background. The original building with the cupola is still there and is now a museum, but it was closed. This is the ridge the Confederates fought from.
Of course, being back in Virginia, I had to get a picture of the Virginia monument. It appeared to be the second largest next to the Pennsylvania monument. By the time we got to the PA monument, there were so many people around, it was hard to get a good picture. If you have not visited a Civil War Battlefield before, there are monuments everywhere dedicated to all the groups that fought in that battle.
We are standing just in front of Seminary Ridge looking towards Cemetery Ridge, 3/4 of a mile away. Most of the engagements took place through this valley over the three days.
We are now on the opposite side, on Cemetery Ridge looking down slightly. It always amazes me the amount of courage it took for these men to fight out in the open with canon and guns firing at you constantly. It always brings a new appreciation for those that are willing to sacrifice themselves for others.
There were two hills that were fought over. This is Little Round Top littered with boulders.
The Union got there first and you can see how difficult it was to try to attack out in the open with all those boulders hiding soldiers behind them. In the far left-center, is another rock formation called Devil’s Den. It changed hands several times on the second day.
We walked to the top and there were so many hidden places to fight from. That’s Little Round Top in the back.
We ended the driving tour on top of Cemetery Ridge and spent time walking around the different areas Lee’s troops were attacking, but were never able to break through the Northern lines. We spent about four hours on the tour. We didn’t get out at every stop, but most of them. I’m already looking forward to going back.
We only spent three nights out this time, the shortest we have done in a long time. The next day, we went on a hike and since the Appalachian Trial goes right through the park, we had to hike part of it.
Of course, the part we hiked went straight up for over 400 feet. We have been following a through hiker on YouTube since she started at the end of February. She is in Maine now and only has a few weeks to go. I remember her hike through “Rocksylvania” has she called it and I can see why. The mile or so we were on was very bouldery and rocky.
After reaching the top of the hill, the AT went north and another park trail went south and back down the mountain, which we took. We continued the hike through a nice flat wooded area along the trout stream that runs through the park. It was a nice hike, enough of a challenge, but not too hard. If you are looking for a park with lots of hiking, this isn’t it, with about 12 miles of hiking within the park.
Caledonia SP is a very nice park. Gettysburg is only 15 miles away, so it’s a nice base to work from. There are a few other state parks in the area and I think next time, we’ll try one of those if we can find a spot. Unless we happen to have a really cool week, I think our camping will be done for the summer. I’m already looking at places to go in the fall.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great week.