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Traffic an uphill battle

September 15, 1997


Staff Writer

The condition of the traffic around the Artz farm on Sunday depended largely on where you were.

Frustrated after sitting in his car in parking lot D for about an hour and a half Sunday afternoon, Middletown, Md., resident Harry Goad wondered when he would get home.

"What happened? Did the state police take a holiday?" he said. "I haven't seen anything move since I've been here."

Halfway resident Mike Leigh, on the other hand, faced no troubles after the final day of the commemoration of the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. He parked his car on Claymont Drive, off Downsville Pike on the other side of farm.

Doing so meant a slightly longer walk to the battle re-enactments, but Leigh said the empty road on the way home made the hike worth it.


"Go up to Sterling Road and Bower Avenue and I'm home," he said.

Maryland State Police reported no traffic tieups on the interstate highways near the Artz farm on Sunday. For troopers directing traffic, the day was just like the previous two - lots of standing. Sgt. Steve Jessee said he did not get a chance to see any of the re-enactments.

"I just saw about 15,000 cars all three days," he said.

"It's steady. People aren't too bad. Of course, I think if I left my post, it'd be complete chaos," Jessee added. "It was a mess, but I think we handled it."

Most of the law enforcement officers managed to keep in good spirits, however.

"I hope those Yankees keep losing," Neal Wuethrich shouted at a motorist with a New York license plate.

Wuethrich, an off-duty Thurmont, Md., police officer who was directing cars at the Downsville Pike exit, explained that was a baseball reference, not a jab at the Union.

Wuethrich said local residents brought food and water to officers during the three-day event.

"The local people have been super people we've never met before in our lives," he said.

First Sgt. William Lucas, whose transfer to Jessup, Md., was delayed due to the re-enactment, said officers did their best.

"A lot of cars, a little bit of road," he said.

Getting in and out of the parking areas were not the only problems. Randy Burns, of Keedysville, said he left work at the post office at about 1:30 p.m. Friday to catch the first day of the event. But after sitting on Md. 65 for about 2 1/2 hours, he said he finally gave up.

"If we are going to be a Civil War crossroads, we are going to have to dream up better road access," he said.

Some people who were crammed into the overstuffed parking areas waiting to get out took a philosophical view of the traffic nightmare.

"I expected it. It was a little trouble, but not too bad," said College Park, Md., Debbie Dompierre, who was turned away when she came too late on Saturday.

Patty Prodonovich, of Hagerstown, said she was prepared as well: "Don't expect too much and you're not disappointed."

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