I want to endorse the efforts of the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association to raise money to acquire battlefield land and to develop a visitor’s center for interpretation of the battlefield, and I encourage you to donate to their efforts, too. The following article appeared in the May 7 issue of the Waynesboro Record Herald newspaper:

Washington Township’s preservation efforts for the Battle of Monterey Pass receive strong support, but there’s still more to do

By Matt McLaughlin/The Record Herald
Fri May 07, 2010, 12:17 PM EDT

Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. –

Significant strides have been made since Washington Township agreed to raise funds to purchase land and establish an interpretive site dedicated to the Battle of Monterey Pass in January.

During a Jan. 29 meeting between the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association and Washington Township supervisors, the board agreed to seek funding and be the recipient of donations for purchasing a property near the Lions Club’s Rolando Woods Park and establishing it as an interpretive site, complete with a visitors center.

Once established, the township would own the site, but the Battle of Monterey Pass Committee — made up of the association and its partners — would be responsible for its planning and operation, Washington Township Manager Mike Christopher said in January.

The Battle of Monterey Pass, fought July 4 and 5, 1863, began in Fountaindale as Confederate forces limped back to the South after the Battle of Gettysburg. It was the second-largest conflict fought on northern soil during the Civil War and the only one fought on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.

A step forward in preserving a piece of the Monterey Pass battlefield was the signing of a sale agreement for the .83-acre property near Rolando Woods Park April 21.

The property, owned by Mary Rae Cantwell, is located at 13325 Buchanan Trail East and was the location of the last Confederate defense during the 1863 battle.

Supervisor Elaine Gladhill, an advocate of preserving the history of the battle, said the township has already received more than $1,000 in donations.

Gladhill also recently received a donation of artifacts found where the Battle of Monterey Pass was fought. Two Minie balls — one fired and one unfired — were given for display in the future visitors center.

Moral support

About $100,000 is needed to buy all the property and township recently applied for $49,950 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant for purchasing the property. The township would provide matching funds of $52,900.

More than 75 letters of support for the grant were submitted.

“To me, that just says how valuable this initiative is,” Christopher said. “I’m amazed by the support.”

Agencies that wrote letters of support include the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association, Franklin County Board of Commissioners, Franklin County Visitors Bureau, Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Franklin County Area Development Corp., Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce, Franklin County Planning Commission, Borough of Waynesboro, One Mountain Foundation, Franklin County Historical Society, Waynesboro Area School District, Greater Area Emmitsburg Historical Society and Cumberland Valley Rifles.

Letters of support were also received from state Sen. Richard Alloway II, a Republican who represents Franklin, Adams and parts of York counties, and state Rep. Todd Rock, a Republican who represents Franklin County, as well as a number of individuals.

“What makes our situation unique and wonderful is that we’re going to be able to interpret it … which means it can come alive for the public,” Christopher said. “Instead of reading a sign or marker, we can bring this site to life because of having the historian already in place.”

John Miller, historian and founder of the MPBA said recent support and efforts to establish a battlefield are the culmination of 12 years of work.

“I’m very excited about how far things have come,” Miller said. “We are very pleased with the township’s efforts and their support for this project. The township has been the driving force behind obtaining grants for the project as well as obtaining support from our local and state officials.”

The next step

The township plans to continue looking for money to develop a site that will serve the community historically and economically as a tourism destination. If it receives the DCNR grant, the township hopes to raise the matching funds through donations.

“We need to raise the money to buy the property, and we need to raise the money to build the interpretive center,” Christopher said. “There are people out there that donate to this kind of thing and we’re looking for them.”

Christopher hopes businesses in the area will see the advantage of supporting the site financially, because “they’re going to be paid back tenfold.”

Miller and members of the Battle of Monterey Pass Committee met with Civil War historian Ed Bearss Thursday to discuss, in part, ways to gain financial support.

“The meeting is basically to gain a better understanding about what type of preservation grants are out there as well as kind of figuring out how to gain more national support, taking it past the local level,” Miller said prior to the meeting.

Donations can be made at the township office at 13013 Welty Road, Wayne Heights. Checks should be made payable to Washington Township.

Donation forms also are available at MPBA interpretive programs.

The Battle of Monterey Pass was the second largest battle fought in Pennsylvania during the Civil War, and it deserves our support.

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