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Town to market its Civil War ties

Emmitsburg explores plan to increase tourism

Ingrid Mezo

(3/30) Emmitsburg, a town with a colorful Civil War history, could potentially attract tourism dollars headed to Gettysburg by marketing itself as a ‘‘Civil War home base," according to officials and history buffs.

Emmitsburg’s planning and zoning commission took an initial step on Monday toward both attracting tourism and potentially getting state historic preservation grant funds for the effort.

Commission members voted unanimously to recommend that town officials create a resolution to allow the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area steering committee to submit a certification plan for Emmitsburg.

‘‘Emmitsburg deserves to be part of this program," said Michael Hillman, head of the Emmitsburg Historical Society and creator and Webmaster of

The Maryland Area Heritage Authority recognized a region, known as the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, that includes portions of Frederick, Carroll and Washington counties in 1999.

Since then, a steering committee made up of representatives from all three counties has been drawing up a management plan that would involve amendments to local jurisdictions’ comprehensive plans to apply for certification.

The steering committee hopes to apply for certification when it meets with the Maryland Heritage Area’s board on May 4, county planner Janet Davis said.

While drawing up plans, the steering committee made several recommendations for ways in which the town could increase tourism.

The suggestions included connecting the town more fully with areas like Gettysburg by becoming involved in cooperative marketing, coordinating with site events and placing signage directing tourists to ‘‘Historic Downtown Emmitsburg."

In addition, the steering committee suggested the town could redesign its town center, at the intersection of U.S. Route 15 and Main Street, to include more landscaping and better pedestrian amenities.

The town’s views of the mountains would also serve as a draw for tourism, and the town could protect the views by adopting zoning changes.

The steering committee also suggested the town could work with the Emmitsburg Historical Society to create exhibits and programs that would appeal to Civil War tourists.

‘‘Emmitsburg served as a crossroads for both the Union and Confederate Armies," said John Miller, Civil War historian for the Emmitsburg Historical Society. ‘‘There is so much Civil War history that I don’t have time to discuss it all. The Sisters of Charity and Mount Saint Mary’s University also played a major role during the Civil War."

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart came to Emmitsburg one night during the Chambersburg Raid, and Henry Mathews who was a member of Breathed’s Battery wrote about their night in the town, Miller said.

Davis asked the town’s planning and zoning committee to urge town officials to adopt a resolution authorizing the steering committee to submit a plan for certification and to agree to amend the town’s comprehensive plan to include plans for becoming a Civil War tourist attraction.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government