These days most kids and many adults are hooked on their smartphone no matter what they do or where they are. People just can’t seem to keep their hands off their phones when they are not engulfed 100 percent in an activity. To beat the “smartphone addiction” and have some fun while learning history, we toured around the Gettysburg National Military Park on a Segway.
A Segway is a unique two-wheeled vehicle that you stand on to operate. It is computer- and gyro-controlled to keep your balance and you need both hands to control it so there can be no smartphone distractions. The best part of going via Segway is that it is really fun to maneuver. Taking our tour of Gettysburg on a Segway gave us a better feel of the landscape. Further, to make the tour more interesting, we hired a “Battlefield Certified Guide,” rather than listen to preprogrammed audio.
The battle at Gettysburg took place for three days starting July 1 in 1863. It is a place where 93,921 Confederate troops fought 71,699 Union soldiers, resulting in 56,000 casualties. In school we covered this important event in about three minutes, while learning briefly about the Civil War. Our Segway tour took nearly three hours. (The first 20 minutes were spent practicing on an obstacle course so you can get comfortable with the operation of a Segway.)
On our tour the Segway leader watched over us and traffic on the roads, and our battlefield guide explained what took place as we cruised around or stopped along the way. We went nine miles on the paved national park roads, covering the most important areas of the battlefields. We enjoyed the breeze on our faces and the feel of the terrain, that no bus or car could duplicate. We finished our tour understanding not only what happened at this sacred place, but how it affected the next two years of the war. Our group did this without answering a single text or email, or posting anything to Facebook, for the duration of the tour.
Gettysburg is more than a battlefield. It is a quaint and historic town with many buildings over 150 years old. We recommend an overnight at the Hotel Gettysburg. This historical hotel, with its roots dating back to 1797, is literally in the center of town.
It is across the circle from the David Wills House. It is here where President Abraham Lincoln spent the night before giving his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, at the battlefield nearby. You can view the bedroom and furniture where he slept, as well as many artifacts from that time. Hotel Gettysburg is a five to 15 minute walk to all restaurants and shops in town. You can combine this road trip with other interesting places like Philadelphia, two hours to the east, or Lancaster, which is Amish Country, only one hour away.