The National Park Service once again is offering free admission to its parks to encourage visitors during National Parks Week. Throughout the National Park Service, all 392 national parks will waive entrance fees and many have special activities planned.
Two close national parks to Harrisburg include the Eisenhower National Historic Site and Gettysburg National Military Park. Within a short drive of Harrisburg, both sites can be visited together, as they are adjacent in Gettysburg, PA.
Eisenhower National Historic Site is the home and farm of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The home served President Eisenhower as both a weekend retreat and a place to host foreign dignitaries during the Cold War. Though he purchased the property in 1950, Eisenhower first came to Gettysburg in 1915 as a student from West Point to learn about the battle in-depth. He returned to Gettysburg in 1918 to take charge of Camp Colt, the US Army Tank Corps Training Center located on the fields of Pickett’s Charge. Eisenhower’s orders were, “To take in volunteers, equip, organize, and instruct them and have them ready for overseas shipment when called upon.” These two experiences led Eisenhower to purchase this 189-acre farm next to the Gettysburg National Military Park.
To learn more about the site, there are 15 minute orientation tours covering how the farm was used by the President. The site also offers free cell phone tours to visitors, though the tours may cost cell minutes depending on your plan.
Next to the Eisenhower National Historic Site is one of the most famous battlefields of the American Civil War, Gettysburg National Military Park, the “high water mark of the rebellion.” A visit to the battlefield begins at the Museum and Visitor’s Center, a 22,000 square foot space with interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations. While there, visitors can view the film “A New Birth of Freedom” narrated by Morgan Freeman and see the restored Gettysburg Cyclorama depicting Pickett’s Charge.
During the weekend of April 17-18, Gettysburg National Military Park offers many activities for visitors. Learn about newsmen and newspapers during the Civil War with Press Corps Living History presentation. This weekend is also Living History Weekend from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, with Confederate Military Forces and the 1st and 3rd Maryland and the 7th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry camping out. Sunday, April 18 brings the 2010 Gettysburg Seminar covering the aftermath and end of the Gettysburg campaign.
For more information on the free National Park weekend, visit their website.