Yesterday (Sunday) I headed to Antietam with my nephew (a budding CW fan). The rainy forecast for Saturday made Sunday a wiser choice. Rangers told me it poured during several tours Saturday. Sunday's weather was not great, but still tolerable. It showered off and on throughout the day, and the fields were very wet and muddy.
I arrived at 6:30 AM, parked at VC and hiked to North Woods for first Ranger tour. We followed Cornfield Trail and ended at Dunker Church. This is now a well-maintained tour route; make sure you get the tour's brochure at VC or in box at North Woods.
Next tour followed Hood's attack. We began at Dunker Church and headed up thru the "bowl" north of Smoketown Rd to the Texas Monument. Our return crossed ground that I'd never walked before as we followed Greene's route toward the VC (in field parallel but south of Smoketown Rd). This terrain provided interesting perspective, as you lose all view north to and beyond the road).
Next tour was West Woods; we began at NY Monument and headed to Cornfield, then into the West Woods along Sedgwick's route. We stopped at the 15TH MASS (no trip to Hauser Ridge this year) and headed back toward Dunker Church.
Next I went into town for the festival (showers clearly kept attendance down). I met Superintendant Howard and complimented him on the recent improvements (see below).
For next tour, we hiked from VC to Piper Farm. Owner gave overview of farm, then we crossed thru the newly planted apple orchard to the Sunken Rd. Back at VC, I spoke briefly with Ted Alexander. Steve Stottlemyre was giving a cemetery tour at 3 PM, but (sorry, Dave) we didn't make it. Showers started again and our feet were soaked after two changes in footware.
We went to see the new Lee Monument. Admittedly it does look great.
Some new changes at park: silos and some out-buildings were removed from Miller Farm. Also the big post-battle building in West Woods is gone (removal was slowed when asbestos was found).
I bought the new CD-ROM created by NIMA that provides mapping of the battlefield. Didn't install yet, but Rangers noted it great for noting unit positions via battlemap (IIRC it's the Carman maps?) or via modern map. Also offers aerial views.
Lots of new Irish Brigade stuff in VC giftshop(I bought the mousepad).
One of items likely on ranger agenda for winter is re-positioning of some of the cannon. Many were placed long ago when park owned far less land. No firm plans yet for newly acquired Poffenberger Farm (North Woods area). The 40-Acre Cornfield is now owned by NPS and now finally offers us ability to spend unlimited time there to study that sector of park.
My thanks to all those rangers who provided another series of great tours this year. Keep checking the Antietam NPS website, there likely will be tours later this fall (maybe another trip to Nicodemus Heights). Of course the anniversary day (remember battle was actaully fought on a Wednesday) offers full day tour.