Cindy Lallo remembered seeing the Electric Map at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitor center as a child, and she's glad she had the chance to see it again last week before the lights go out.

The 30-foot square map, which uses lights to depict the movement of troops during the Battle of Gettysburg, will not move to the new museum and visitor center, which opens April 14.

Instead, the information will be delivered through films, interactive stations and displays.

"That really surprised me because I thought (the Electric Map) was such a part of Gettysburg," 46-year-old Lallo of Raleigh, N.C., said outside the visitor center. "I was like 'How can they do that?' I just distinctly remember seeing it as a kid.

Warren Brockette of Gettysburg points a few people in the direction of the theater before pushing the button that begins the show of the Electric Map
Warren Brockette of Gettysburg points a few people in the direction of the theater before pushing the button that begins the show of the Electric Map Gettysburg National Military Park visitor center on Thursday. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Kate Penn)
"

While she and her husband enjoyed the 30-minute presentation and found it to be helpful, their two children -- 11-year-old Katie and 8-year-old Joshua -- said they would prefer the multimedia experience.

"I thought it was kind of boring," Katie said, adding that she was looking all over to find the flashing lights during the presentation. "I think it would be easier to see it on a screen."

A school group and a few adults attended the Electric Map presentation on a dreary afternoon last week, but others skipped it, saying they only had a few hours to visit the park. A few seemed confused about what it was.

The concept of the map is great, but the outdated technology combined with the amount of space that would be needed to display it worked against including it in the new museum, Katie Lawhon, park spokeswoman, said.

In addition, the National Park Service and the Gettysburg Foundation wanted to make the new center a compelling experience.

"We only get one opportunity with a lot of people, and we really need to grab them, and the Electric Map doesn't do it," Lawhon said. "It does have a nickname: the Electric Nap."

Eric McElroy, a tour guide from Washington, D.C., said he agrees that the map is tired, and it's time for it to go.

If the new visitor center has a good introductory video that will replace the map.

"The Electric Map was good in its day, but the light bulb concept just doesn't cut it anymore," he said.

McElroy, who has seen the Electric Map more than 30 times over the years, said it gives people a chance to sit down and relax. Tourists gain some information, but "you really have to be a Civil War enthusiast . . . to go into it."

A lot of the tourists are students, and museums need to attract their attention in a certain way, he said.

Others say it's beneficial.

Terry Smith, 65, of Houston, Texas, saw the Electric Map for the first time last week. He said he found it enlightening. The dynamic nature of showing where the lines were makes it more real somehow, he said.

The students who attended the same showing seemed interested, he said.

From left, Carolyn Minnette of Saline, Minn., watches the electric map with daughters Samantha, 12, and Lillian, 9, at the Gettysburg National Military
From left, Carolyn Minnette of Saline, Minn., watches the electric map with daughters Samantha, 12, and Lillian, 9, at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitor center last week. The days where visitors can see the map are coming to a close. It will not move to the new visitor center. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Kate Penn)

"It doesn't take flashy video and snazzy audio to keep people interested," Smith said.

The fate of the map concerns relatives of Joseph Rosensteel, who created it, and visitors who view it a national treasure. Jon DeKeles of Post Falls, Idaho, recently started a Web site: savetheelectricmap.com.

The park plans to cut the map into four pieces in order to get it out of the current center. It will be wrapped and stored until a future use for it is found.

Emily Rosensteel O'Neil, the daughter of Joseph Rosensteel, said she is concerned whether the map will ever see the light of day once it is put into storage.

So many people from all over the country have seen the map, and she said it is an artifact in and of itself. She said it really is her father's masterpiece.

"The goal we have is to preserve the map as a viable educational tool," O'Neil said.

The word is out that the park service is willing to consider proposals from a nonprofit for educational uses, but so far it hasn't received any serious inquiries, Lawhon said.

THE LAST CHANCE

Sunday will be the last day to see the Electric Map at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitor center.

It will not move to the new museum and visitor center, which opens April 14.

Admission to the old visitor center is $4 for adults 13 and older and $3 for children 6 years old to 12 years old.

Children 5 and under are admitted for free. 

READ MORE

Find out about the new visitor center, and take our Civil War quiz, in Gettysburg: A new home for history.

ON THE BLOG

Read more on the York Town Square blog at Gettysburg's vaunted Electric Map to soon stop blinking.