Visitors and residents will now be able to travel back to 1863 through Gettysburg’s first virtual reality experience, Ticket to the Past—Unforgettable Journeys, at the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station.
This new immersive virtual reality experience opens to the public from 1 to 8 pm today at the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station, 35 Carlisle St., Gettysburg.
Ticket to the Past—Unforgettable Journeys features the stories of three people at the railroad station in July 1863, according to Gettysburg Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne Motts.
“We look forward to introducing the region and visitors to the Ticket to the Past—Unforgettable Journeys virtual reality experience,” Motts said. “The Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station is truly a historic treasure with unforgettable stories of perseverance, compassion and optimism through the actions of forward-thinking citizens, dedicated medical personnel and devoted soldiers who made the Gettysburg station a focal point in history.”
Visitors will select one of three individuals to follow and learn about their connections with the station in the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, according to Trini Nye, vice president of sales and marketing at the Gettysburg Foundation.
When entering the station, visitors get a glimpse of the different individuals and their stories: Cornelia Hancock, a young Quaker school teacher from New Jersey who traveled alone to Gettysburg to serve as a nurse and helped care for the wounded and dying soldiers; Eli Blanchard, a teen who enlisted as a soldier in the 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry and band member of the Iron Brigade who assisted with amputations performed in the field hospital; and Basil Biggs, a free African American man who had moved his family to Gettysburg in 1858 in search of better opportunities and ended up working with his crew to exhume the bodies of the fallen Union soldiers to transport them for proper burial in the Gettysburg National Cemetery .
Using a virtual reality oculus headset, visitors step inside 1863 and see the story of the person they selected unfold in 3-D. In the third room, visitors may view all three people projected in augmented reality as well as the 16th president’s Nov. 18, 1863, arrival at the station for the dedication of the national cemetery, said Nye.
“It gives me chills,” Motts said after the experience, noting that right where visitors sit in the third room is where President Lincoln took his first steps in Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station, which has more recently served as a visitor information stop, is known as the station where President Lincoln for the dedication of the national cemetery where he delivered the famous Gettysburg Address.
The virtual reality experience was created by New York-based company TimeLooper.
Andrew Feinberg, principal at TimeLooper, said this virtual reality project is the first of its type “on this planet.”
“The Gettysburg Foundation is blazing a new path,” Feinberg said.
The Gettysburg Foundation raised $800,000 to bring this experience to life, Mott said. The project was made possible in part by a grant from the National Park Foundation as well as many donations, according to Nye.
Tickets are $9.95 for adults, 13-64 years; $8.95 for seniors 65-plus and military veterans and active duty; and $7.95 for children, 6-12, Nye said. The experience is youth- and family-friendly for children over 6 years old, said Nye.
The new virtual reality experience will be open through November on Mondays and Thursdays, 10 am to 6 pm; Fridays, noon to 8 pm; and Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am to 6 pm The virtual reality experience will hold winter hours in December of Friday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm
Ticket to the Past—Unforgettable Journeys will be closed in January and February except for Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day weekends when it will open Saturday through Monday, 10 am to 5 pm
Ticket to the Past—Unforgettable Journeys tickets will soon be available for purchase online at GettysburgFoundation.org, by calling 877-874-2478, at the ticket counter inside the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center and on-site at Ticket to the Past—Unforgettable Journeys.