Thursday, December 17, 2009

Your Gettysburg fix: One photo a day

For those who can’t get enough of Gettysburg, Bobby Housch’s Web site is perhaps the next best thing to being there.

Since February 2008, has posted at least one photo or video a day of the park or southern Pennsylvania town that draws nearly 1.7 million visitors annually.

“It’s a labor of love,” says Housch (pronounced “Hoosh’), 50, a Gettysburg resident and an 8th-grade history teacher in nearby Hanover.

His two sons help Housch produce Gettysburg Daily, which has grown in popularity and garners nearly 2,000 page views a day. He gets a boost from his impressive archives and referrals from Google Images.

One day you may hear a Licensed Battlefield Guide describe the action on Day 2 of the July 1863 battle. On another you may see the restoration of an old farm or a panoramic view.

“It’s pretty much what I am interested in,” says Housch, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native who has lived in Gettysburg for about 10 years.

The Web site also has bios and information on Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides, who for $55 provide visitors to the national military park a two-hour guided tour.

Housch, who is a guide on weekends and during the summer, told me it is important to present history to young visitors visually – in person or through the Web.

“People say, ‘show me what happened on this spot.’ ”

So most every Sunday afternoon, Housch sets out with video and still cameras to tell a story. He has 1,400 monuments, great vistas and the town to choose from.

Although his site might attract some casually interested in history, it’s more likely to update those who are very much interested in the significance of the battle and the current appearance of the park.

“People tell me wish they could live here all the time,” says Housch.

Gettysburg Daily does tweak a few noses. It’s documented the loss of trees that were around at the time of the battle and laments examples of commercial bad taste.

The site also accepts nominations and picks a winner of the “Sickles Award,” which every July 2 celebrates “dumb moves at Gettysburg.” It’s named for the Union general who blundered by moving his troops into a dangerous position, causing a gap in the Union line.

The 2009 winner was the construction of a hotel right next to graves on South Cemetery Hill.

Photos Courtesy of Gettysburg Daily

Gettysburg Daily
Sickles Award: 2010

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