In the early years of passenger railroading, towns that were on the rail line would build a train station where trains would stop to pick-up and discharge passengers. One of those towns would be Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. When the Italian Villa style Gettysburg Railroad Station was built in 1858, it operated like any other railroad station. Passengers waited for the train. The train came. Passengers got off and go on. The train departed the station.
In just a few short years, everything changed.
The American Civil War began in 1861. On July 1, 1863, the Confederate Army marched north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and there was a three day clash in and around Gettysburg. During this time, the train station became a hospital for wounded Union soldiers. When the Confederates were push out of Gettysburg, the wounded soldiers were located to another building, and it began to operate as a train station again.
Months later, another event took place.
On November 18, 1863, a man arrived at the Gettysburg Railroad Station. He had a mission. Who was he and what was his mission? That man was Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States of America, and he came to deliver what many say is his greatest speech, The Gettysburg Address.
After that, it was just the Gettysburg Railroad Station until December 31, 1942 when the last passenger train bound for Baltimore left the station.
Today, the Gettysburg Railroad Station is now the Lincoln Railroad Station. It is no longer and active train station but a museum. Inside, you can see displays of how the depot originally looked in it days of service. You can read up on the history of the station. In a short time, you will realize that this was not just your normal train station but a place where American history took place. Oh, if you are fortunate, you may see a passing train.
The Lincoln Railroad Station is operated by the Gettysburg Foundation. It is located at 35 Carlisle Street (Business U.S. 15) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania just one block north of the town square. Admission is free, but donations are generously accepted to help with the costs of keeping the museum running. It is open every day between Memorial Day to Labor from 10:00am to 5:00pm. It is open from Friday to Sunday in March, April, May, September and October. It is open select days in November and December. It is closed in January and February. The museum has no parking. Only metered parking or garage parking is available. You can also park at the Visitor Center and ride a free shuttle through the town. You can get more information about the train station and the times the station is open plus information on nearby parking garages at https://www.gettysburgfoundation.org/gettysburg-lincoln-railroad-station/.
Next time you visit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, visit that ordinary railroad station that become a railroad stop for American history.