Round Top Branch

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Round Top Branch
Round Top Extension[1]
railroad line
1904 Cope map - Gettysburg Electric Railway.png
The Round Top Branch terminus (right, north-to-south) was south of Round Top, Pennsylvania and east of the Little Round Top summit.
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
Region Adams County
Municipality Cumberland Township
Part of G. & H. R. R.
Length 2.798 mi (5 km) [2]
Began 1884

The Round Top Branch was an extension of the Gettysburg and Harrisburg Railroad from the Gettysburg borough across the Gettysburg Battlefield to Round Top, Pennsylvania. The branch ran southward from the terminus of the railroad's main line (its junction with the Hanover Junction, Hanover and Gettysburg Railroad north of Meade School), west of the school and St. Francis Xavier Cemetery, across the field of Pickett's Charge, south of Cemetery Ridge, east of Weikert Hill and Munshower Knoll, and through Round Top to a point between Little Round Top's east base and Taneytown Road. In addition to battlefield tourists, the line carried stone monoliths and statues for monuments during the battlefield's memorial association and commemorative eras and equipment, supplies and participants for Gettysburg Battlefield camps after the American Civil War (e.g., the 1884 Camp Gettysburg, 1913 Gettysburg reunion, 1918 Camp Colt and 1938 Gettysburg reunion).[3]


After completion of a 22 mi (35 km) initial survey of Gettysburg along Rock Creek on January 12, 1882, the Gettysburg and Harrisburg Rail Road[4] main line was instead completed into the borough along Oak Ridge with nine stations from Hunter's Run. By July 14, 1882, Ambrose E. Lehman of the State Geological Survey completed the G&HRR survey for the branch to Round Top,[5] and the HJ,H&GRR (successor to the G&HRR)[1] survey was begun by engineer Joseph S. Gitt[5][6] for a competing Round-Top Railroad Company[7] route to Round Top; the latter was never built.

Track workers under foreman Coulson were laying rails of 80 lb (36 kg) per yard for the branch in May 1884,[8] and laborer "Blind Davy" Weikert was blinded by a premature dynamite blast.[9] The Round Top Station's warehouse was completed June 21, 1884.[10] After being surveyed in May, the branch's connection to the HJ, H&GRR was being completed on July 22, 1884 "just beyond the Cashman limestone kilns" and a siding along Fairfield Road had been completed along with a switch at the PA National Guard commissary[11] (the 1913 siding held eight carloads of ice).[12] The "dummy" Baldwin steam engine had begun excursions "to the hill" in June 1884[10] and could carry about 40 passengers[13] (the branch's "dinky" could carry about 10).[14] The G&HRR published a Gettysburg Battlefield guidebook with 1884 images by "the great landscape photographer, Mr. Bell, of Philadelphia".[15]

By 1888 the branch's Hancock Station on the battlefield was south of The Angle near the Vermont and Tammany monuments,[16] and on a c. 1900 map, a wye with crossing double spurs was depicted at Round Top Station with a benchmark at 545 ft (166 m) elevation; by 1904, the wye was no longer depicted.[17] In 1902, Camp Lawton was headquartered at The Angle with its telegraph and telephone office at the Emmitsburg Rd "junction of the steam and electric roads near the Codori buildings".[18] Through October 1914, a combination arsenal and commissary along the Round Top Branch was used for Pennsylvania National Guard camps at Gettysburg.[19] A special platform on the branch was built for 1913 Gettysburg reunion veterans to disembark directly into their camp[12] on the west side of Emmitsburg Road;[citation needed] after addressing the veterans, President Woodrow Wilson departed the Great Camp in his private rail car via the branch.[20]

The branch's junction was visible on a June 25 aerial photo of the 1938 Gettysburg reunion camp;[21] on May 7, 1939 a Reading Railroad train from Philadelphia carried 400 excursionists on the branch to Round Top.[22] Except for special occasions (such as a trip by Bethlehem students in 1958),[23] Reading passenger service to Gettysburg ceased in 1941[24] and an application to abandon the Round Top Branch was made in 1942[2] (the rails were removed and a few artifacts remain in place). The main-line junction is now located at Seminary Ridge west of the original 19th century junction, and was used by the Gettysburg Railroad (1976–1996) and the 1996-2001 Gettysburg Railway.


External image
crossing of gravel Hancock Av
Route (north-to-south)
This list is incomplete; you can help by editing it.
Intersections & curves[17] Coordinates
Junction 39°49′57″N 77°14′16″W / 39.832606°N 77.237733°W / 39.832606; -77.237733
Switch to turntable For three-engine[13] roundhouse[25]
Wye switch Behind Meade School
Stevens Run
(three crossings,
one in borough)
39°49′46″N 77°14′20″W / 39.82937°N 77.238801°W / 39.82937; -77.238801

39°49′20″N 77°14′32″W / 39.822214°N 77.242336°W / 39.822214; -77.242336
39°49′19″N 77°14′32″W / 39.821903°N 77.242244°W / 39.821903; -77.242244

Emmitsburg Road 39°48′46″N 77°14′21″W / 39.812805°N 77.23923°W / 39.812805; -77.23923
Hancock Station
Slight bend 39°48′16″N 77°14′07″W / 39.804308°N 77.235169°W / 39.804308; -77.235169
Hancock Ave 39°48′12″N 77°14′04″W / 39.803442°N 77.234445°W / 39.803442; -77.234445
United States Ave 39°48′09″N 77°14′02″W / 39.80242°N 77.233758°W / 39.80242; -77.233758
Curve east of Weikert Hill 39°47′49″N 77°13′55″W / 39.796997°N 77.231886°W / 39.796997; -77.231886
Round Top Station
Wheatfield Rd
Terminus Between ends of two rock walls

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Stewart, Dr. Henry (May 2, 1946). "Reminiscences of 70 Years in Gettysburg" (Google News Archives). Gettysburg Times. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Seek To Abandon Round Top Branch". February 2, 1942. extending from a point 1,670 feet south of the point where it crosses the Lincoln Highway on Buford avenue to the end of the branch a distance of about 2.492 miles 
  3. ^ "Military Police on Every Night" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Times. March 25, 1918. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  4. ^ "Camp Gettysburg" (Google News Archives). Gettysburg Compiler. July 29, 1884. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
  5. ^ a b "Railroad Surveys" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. Town and County. June 14, 1882. Retrieved 2011-05-07.  (1982 Out of the Past commemoration)
  6. ^ "Out of the Past: Seventy-five Years Ago" (Google News archive). Gettysburg Times. June 17, 1957. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  7. ^ Gitt, Joseph S (February 9, 1884). "Baltimore and Harrisburg Railroad" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler; Adams County Railroads: Concluded (published February 19, 1884). Retrieved 2011-05-06. In August, 1882, I made surveys and a location for the purpose of extending the Gettysburg Railroad to Round-Top for excursion purposes. A charter was granted at this time, under the general railroad law, by the State Department, to the "Round-Top Railroad Company," to build a line from Gettysburg to Round-Top. The capital stock, $25,000, and A. W. Eichelberger President. The directors are Wm. Grumbine, Reuben Young, Peter Flickinger, B. M. Wirt, R. A. Eichelberger, H. A. Young, David Wills, H. D. Scott. 
  8. ^ "Out Of The Past: Fifty Years Ago" (Google News Archives). Gettysburg Times. May 12, 1958. Retrieved 2011-05-07. Track Foreman Coulson and his force of hands are laying heavy iron rails--80 pound to the yard--on the Round Top branch. 
  9. ^ "David Weikert Is Dead" (Google News Archives). Gettysburg Times. May 8, 1920. Retrieved 2011-05-07. David M. L. Weikert 
  10. ^ a b "Local Flashes & Excursions" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. June 24, 1884. p. 3. Retrieved 2011-02-25. Mr. Lewis A. Bushman's warehouse at Round-Top was raised on Saturday. ... The two new wells at Round-Top are both successes ... The "dummy" Baldwin made frequent trips ... taking town folks to the hill ... D. S. Fuhrman … on the Gilbert property … will sell tickets covering fifteen baths for one dollar. 
  11. ^ "Railroad Notes" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. July 22, 1884. Retrieved 2011-05-07. The H. J., H. & G. Railroad is completing the track connecting that road with the Round-Top branch of the G. & H. The two tracks have also been joined just beyond the Cashman lime kilns, to allow the new road a more convenient route to Round-Top. … over 500 … colored Odd Fellows of Carlisle. 
  12. ^ a b "First Boys In Gray Here" (Google News Archives). Adams County News. June 28, 1913. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  13. ^ a b "Railroaders" (Google News Archives). Gettysburg Times. April 30, 1958. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  14. ^ Stewart, Dr. Henry (May 22, 1946). "The Tourist Trade" (Google News Archives). Gettysburg Times. Reminiscences of 70 Years in Gettysburg. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  15. ^ Weeks, Jim (2003). Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 78. ISBN 9780691102719. 
  16. ^ "In The Bloody Angle" (Google News Archive). Bridgeport Morning News. September 25, 1891. Retrieved 2011-05-07. …Reading railroad station, boarded their cars and were drawn rapidly out to Hancock station on the Second corps line, a short distance from the big [Tammany] monument.  (other "Hancock Station" results at Google News Archive.)
  17. ^ a b Map of the Battle Field of Gettysburg (Map). Cartography by Gettysburg National Park Commission. New York: Julius Bien & Co. Lith. 1904. 
  18. ^ "Camp Lawton" (Google News Archives). The Star and Sentinel. July 2, 1927. p. 3. col. 4. Retrieved 2011-02-06. The five switches for use during the National Guard encampment by the Reading road are about completed. [p 3 col 5]
  19. ^ "Sending Away All Guard Equipment" (Google News Archives). Adams County News. October 24, 1914. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  20. ^ Beitler, Lewis Eugene (editor and compiler) (December 31, 1913). Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg: Report of the Pennsylvania Commission (Google Books) (Report). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Wm. Stanley Bay (state printer). p. 173. Retrieved 2011-02-06. 
  21. ^ Cohen, Stan B (1982). Hands Across the Wall. Charleston, West Virginia: Pictorial Histories Pub. Co. p. 64. 
  22. ^ "Excursions to Bring Visitors Here Sunday". Gettysburg Times. May 6, 1939. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  23. ^ "450 Bethlehem Hi Students On 'Field". Gettysburg Times. May 2, 1958. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  24. ^ "The Gettysburg and Harrisburg Railroad Depot". Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Dan Skelly" (Google News Archives). Gettysburg Times. April 30, 1969. Retrieved 2011-05-06. 

External links[edit]