Back in the Forties, if you wanted to tour the site of the 1863 battle at Gettysburg, you could find a uniformed, licensed guide on the village square. When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, Dad Westerdahl often took our family visitors on a very unique Battlefield tour. Dad’s trip covered the same sites as the licensed guides, but he added a few additional stops that weren’t provided by an office guide.
For example, on a stone bridge over Plum Run on South Confederate Ave there are three dinosaur footprints which were always part of Dad’s tours. The one pictured here was made by anchisauripus sillimani, a lion sized meat eater that walked on two legs and roamed Pennsylvania 200 million years ago.
Another stop on Dad’s tours, was a sulphur spring southwest of Gettysburg on or near the Water Works Rd. Sulphur water smells like rotten eggs, and it was a particular feature of York Sulphur Springs, the first summer resort in Adams County where George and Martha Washington came to bathe in their curative water.
Dad’s “Tour of Discovery” often included a trip to Brooke Avenue on the Battlefield near Plum Run where a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers might be seen and heard in the forest there.
A tour in the spring of the year was sure to include visits west of Gettysburg to view huge fields of daffodils and another stop off Rt 15 south where a large wooded area was covered with blue grape hyacinths.
Dad’s unique and unforgettable tours often ended at dusk with a visit to a field off the Taneytown Road check out a herd of deer might be seen feeding on the new grass at the edge of the woods.
Licensed guides charged a fee for their tours. Dad’s tours were free.