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Township applies for grant to buy Battle of Monterey Pass land

April 29, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • This sign at the site of the Battle of Monterey Pass in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., marks the site as a stop on the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails.
File photo,

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. -- The Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors have applied for a grant that would help them acquire land believed to have been part of the Battle of Monterey Pass during the Civil War.

The application paperwork described the property as the site of Gen. George Custer's battlefield line at 3 a.m. July 5, 1863. Historian John Miller has described the battle, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, as confusing due to poor weather and terrain.

An interesting aspect of the battle is that it was fought on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, he said.

The plan for the eight-tenths of an acre near Rolando Woods Lions Club Park includes a visitors' center with displays and artifacts.

Part of the application for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant addressed how Blue Ridge Summit could link the Gettysburg, Pa., battlefields and Antietam National Battlefield south of Hagerstown.

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Tourists "haven't heard about the battle in between," Township Manager Mike Christopher said.

The supervisors applied for $49,950, saying in the paperwork they would provide a $52,750 match if the funds are awarded. Donors have contributed $150 to a designated account thus far, and Christopher said he's expecting several hundred dollars from a fundraiser held recently in Adams County, Pa.

The supervisors are partnering with the Monterey Pass Battlefield Association to develop a vision for the site, which is currently owned by Mary Rae H. Cantwell. The township has a signed sale agreement for the Pa. 16 property.

A memorial already exists on the land.

"The site was built to honor a person killed in the Vietnam War," Supervisor John Geesaman said.

Sixty-nine letters from government entities, private organizations and individuals accompanied the application.

"We just had a wide gamut of support. Everyone brought a different angle to the benefit of this being preserved and marketed," Christopher said, estimating a typical response time for a grant announcement would be four to six months.

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