Electrical waves at Antietam not lost in translation

August 14, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

So they're thinking about running a power line through Antietam National Battlefield.

Anyone see a problem with that?

Just because we've spent the past 15 decades doing everything we can to preserve the battlefield's pristine condition - that's nothing a couple dozen big metal towers and crackling power lines will detract from, right?

Makes that big brouhaha a few years back over a single cell phone tower way up on South Mountain seem kind of quaint, doesn't it?

While they're at it, maybe they could site a generator in the Cornfield too, just for some artistic balance. School kids visiting Antietam could learn history and electrical engineering at the same time. Two birds with one stone.


A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Energy says that Antietam is in an area that the government has identified as a problem region.

I didn't realize they were having so much trouble getting juice to Dunker Church. Heck, if it were up to Sharpsburg, they wouldn't even have electricity because it's not period. Just try opening a T-Moble outlet on Main Street and see what happens.

The government gave us some vague assurances that Antietam would never be subjected to you know, or whatever.

But anyone who has been paying attention over the last seven years knows you can't trust the U.S. Department of Anything.

The spokeswoman said power lines at Antietam is far from a sure thing.

Translation: It's a sure thing.

She said, "The goal isn't to get a line through" Antietam.

Translation: The goal is to get a line through Antietam.

A National Parks spokeswoman said, "Them coming to us and saying, 'We're coming through with a power line' is not automatic."

Translation: Them coming to us and saying, "We're coming through with a power line" is automatic.

She said that National Park Service officials would consider a request to run lines through the battlefield, but she doubts it would be approved.

Translation: Antietam's about to get more lines than a Mississippi bass tournament.

Really, we haven't heard this many denials out of the federal government since Valerie Plame.

I'm sure the National Park Service doesn't want the power lines, but we all know how the Bush administration works: If el jefe over at the NPS says no, he'll be fired and replaced with someone who says yes. The over-under timeline on an Exxon-Mobile VP being named head of our National Parks is about six weeks.

If they'll fire a U.S. attorney for failing to prosecute some loser Democrat, what chance does the National Park Service have? Yes, the national parks belong to us, the American people - unless some energy exec wants to get his mitts on one of them to turn a profit. Before you know, they'll be using high-tension wires to play connect-the-dots with every park from Antietam to Zion.

Sharpsburg Councilmember Russell Weaver says we must rely on our elected politicians for help.

Uh-oh, we're really in trouble.

Not that they aren't effective, but - I'm not sure how to finish that sentence.

The best we can hope for is to stall for a couple of years and hope that the next president's idea of our national history isn't an oil derrick erected in 1978.

Meantime, might as well get used to the idea and make the best of it. Like, how much more impressive will the annual luminarias event be if we can replace those dingy candles in paper bags with dusk-to-dawn lights?

Or we can play up the historical angle with intriguing questions, such as, "What would the battle of Antietam have been like if they had had electricity?"

I've always wondered that.

McClellan might not have had to use cannon to roust Lee out of his position, he might have just been able to blast him with music by Aerosmith. And how much more palatable would hard tack have been to the troops if they had been outfitted with toaster ovens?

Oh well, Antietam was nice while it lasted. At least, as the recent joke goes, they're not drilling for oil in Yosemite. Yet.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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