If you have an extra $5 in your pocket you might be able to buy a 12-ton piece of Gettysburg history. Only thing is, you'll probably have to drop another $100,000 or more to refurbish and display the beloved but beleaguered tourist display. The Electric Map is currently up for auction through General Service Administration, an online auction site for federal property, according to an email from National Park Service spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.
As of Saturday evening, no one had placed the opening bid of $5. The map - nearly destroyed because it contains asbestos but saved for auction after an outcry from preservationists - was put up for bid last Friday, according to the Park Service. The Gettysburg Electric Map, which dates from the 1960s, is currently up for auction online after approval of a waiver that kept it from being destroyed because of its asbestos content. Online listing indicates a seven-day auction, with the bidding to close Friday.
Brendan Synnamon, president of the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, said Saturday afternoon he didn't know the map was up for auction. Synnamon was
among those pushing to save the map, which was added to the old visitor center in 1963 but contains about 3 percent friable asbestos in its plaster surface.
Synnamon said likely the group would be unable to organize the funds this week to buy the map, but added the group would help another potential bidder if possible. The Electric Map likely won't bring a high price at auction, he said, but added the associated costs of transportation and storage could be considerable. The Park Service has not disclosed where the Electric Map is being stored, but has said the 29-foot square map was cut into quarters and placed into four large shipping containers. Images that accompany the online auction listing show such containers.
Synnamon said his group hopes to be a part of restoring the map, and perhaps updating it with new technology. Old electronics could be replaced, he said, and the miles of wire that made the map work could be simulated with LED and other devices. The map used hundreds of miniature light bulbs to depict troop movements during the Battle of Gettysburg. It was added as part of the commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the battle. In June the Park Service announced federal authorities approved a waiver request allowing it to be auctioned instead of destroyed. Synnamon said the important thing is that it's saved as a teaching tool for another generation. That's a process that could cost $100,000 or more, he estimated. But it would also bring back a unique piece of local history. "You'd be the only kid on your block to have one," he said. "That's for sure."
Text and Image Source: The Evening Sun, September 08, 2012
Second Image Source and Link to GSA Auction