ECW Weekender: Monterey Pass Battlefield Park

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ECW is pleased to welcome guest author John A. Miller of the Friends of the Monterey Pass Battlefield, Inc.

The Monterey Pass Battlefield Park is a 120 acre park that commemorates Pennsylvania’s second largest Civil War battle, and the only battle to occur on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. The Battle of Monterey Pass took place during the middle of the night on July 4-5, 1863, as Union and Confederate cavalry, and some infantry fought for control of this South Mountain pass. By dawn of July 5, the Confederate army was still in possession of Monterey Pass, which allowed the main portion of the Army of Northern Virginia to use it as they retreated from Gettysburg. The last Confederate soldier to march through Monterey Pass was during the late afternoon hours of July 6.

The Battle of Monterey Pass isn’t the only important historical event to take place here. In 1747, a portion of the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia traversed through the area. This would later become known as the Hagerstown Road, or locally the Maria Furnace Road. By 1820, the Pittsburgh and Baltimore Turnpike was completed. A network of roads formed a hub at Monterey Pass, making it a very important place for transportation. The area was also once part of the Underground Railroad and witnessed some of John Brown’s survivors after their failed attempt on Harper’s Ferry, where they moved through the area before their capture at Mont Alto.

Today, Monterey Pass Battlefield is a Washington Township owned park. Our park shares its historical resources with Happel’s Meadow, a 100 acre wetland and Rolando Woods Park, a 20 acre recreational park, both of which are owned by the township. Together, 240 acres of land is preserved as part of the Monterey Pass Battlefield.

A museum which opened in 2014, houses a collection of artifacts that help to tell the story of Battle of Monterey Pass and the Civil War in Washington Township. The museum and battlefield park is run strictly on donations and is staffed by trained volunteers. The hours of the museum are weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. April to November. The museum can be opened by appointment during most evenings with advanced reservation and donation for the Friends of the Monterey Pass Battlefield, Inc.

The battlefield park is a work in progress. By the time the park is finished, there will be three miles of trails to explore, with more trails planned in the future. Interpretative panels and kiosks will help guide visitors through historical events of the park. The park trails will opened in phases later this year with the Maria Furnace Road, Rolando Woods, and Billy Yank Trails receiving visitors now. Park grounds are opened all year, from 8:00 a.m. to dusk. Only our staff are allowed to give tours of the park grounds owned by Washington Township.

Programming at the park includes, tours, living histories, hikes, JR Ranger Programs, and other educational programs dedicated to youth and adult groups. Since Monterey Pass has a lot of World War Two history, we are currently designing a program for Boy Scouts as they learn more about Monterey Pass through the ages. These programs are managed by the Monterey Pass Battlefield Institute.

The Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum is located at 14325 Buchanan Trail East, Waynesboro, PA 17268, twenty minutes west of Gettysburg National Military Park. For more information about the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park, please log onto our website For information about tours and programming, please email me

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