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Devil's Den landmark at Gettysburg battlefield will reopen to the public Friday

The boulder-strewn hill has been closed since March to undergo a rehabilitation project to address erosion along walkways that created safety hazards, officials say.
Credit: Gettysburg National Military Park

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — A major landmark on the Gettysburg battlefield will be open to the public again on Friday after a six-month rehabilitation project, the Gettysburg National Military Park announced today.

Devil's Den, a boulder-strewn hill on the south end of Houck's ridge, where Union artillery batteries engaged with Confederate sharpshooters and other troops on the second day of the battle in July 2, 1863, has been closed to visitors since March, the park said.

The rehabilitation project was necessary to address significant erosion along walkways and unauthorized social trails that created safety hazards, according to the National Park Service.

The project reestablished the features that make up this segment of the battlefield and "will allow visitors to better immerse themselves into the historic landscape that is essential to understanding the three-day Battle of Gettysburg," the park said. 

Numerous safety measures were included in this project. 

  • The project provided a major increase in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) trail surface by 214%, from 700 square feet to 2,200 square feet. 
  • The project decreased the overall hardscape (trail surface) by 70 square feet. The increase to overall greenspace, and additional water runoff mitigation efforts, will better absorb, deflect and slow water runoff and decrease the chances for future landscape erosion.   
  • Slip-resistant granite steps replaced uneven and worn stone steps throughout the project area. The slip-resistant steps provide a consistent, rough surface (even when wet) that will provide a safer walking surface for visitors throughout the year. 

"Although the area will reopen to visitors, one central area will remain fenced to allow more time for further vegetation growth," the park announcement said. "The fencing in this area will remain until native grasses have fully established. This process may take up to two growing seasons—up to 2024."

In the interim, the park added, all non-native vegetation will continue to be treated within the entire project area. 

For more information about this project, including project timeline, photos, and maps, please visit https://go.nps.gov/DevilsDenRehab

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