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"When people ask where I'm from and I say 'Gettysburg,' eight out of 10 say, 'Oh, I've been there. I love that town!'"
GETTYSBURG, PA, December 26, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Jessica James grew up with the Gettysburg Battlefield practically in her backyard, but it wasn't until she left the area that she learned how important this small town was to so many people.
"I didn't appreciate the significance and the sacrifice that occurred on the fields and in the streets of the town until I left," James said. "For some reason, it wasn't until I moved away that the Civil War bug bit me.
James began writing snippets of stories during her drive to work at a horse hospital in northern Virginia, and eventually ended up publishing a Civil War novel called Shades of Gray.
That book was so successful that a handful of other Civil War novels followed, as well as a few suspense/thrillers that won a number of literary awards.
James said one of the things that made her understand the importance of Gettysburg was talking to residents from other states. "When people asked where I was from and I'd say 'Gettysburg,' eight out of 10 would say, 'Oh, I've been there. I love that town!'"
When James moved back to her hometown, she had a new appreciation for Gettysburg's special small town charm and for the pivotal role it played in the American Civil War.
"It's such a unique town in so many ways," James said. "It's not uncommon to see men and women dressed in Civil War-era attire window shopping downtown. Some people might think that's an unusual sight, but it's nothing out of the ordinary in Gettysburg."
She also pointed out that there are restaurants and Bed and Breakfasts in Gettysburg that were once used as Civil War hospitals.
Because there is so much to see and do in this small south-central Pennsylvania town, James decided to write a travel guide to help visitors make the most out of their visit.
The Gettysburg Handbook: An Insider's Travel Guide gives lots of tips about traveling to Gettysburg, including how to get there, where the local's eat, how to tour the battlefield, and even where to find the cheapest gas.
In addition to helpful travel tips, the Gettysburg travel guide gives tidbits of historic information and provides readers with ideas about what to see if they have limited time—and limited budgets.
"There are things in the book that a lot of locals don't know about—like Penelope, the cannon from the War of 1812 that is lodged in the sidewalk," James said. "People reading this book will know more about Gettysburg historical sites that are hidden in plain sight than many of the local residents do."
Other chapters in the book highlight museums, tours, landmarks that are close by, day trips from Gettysburg, and even unique places to shop.
Additionally, the ghost stories and lore that relates to the Battlefield have spurred a whole industry of ghost hunting in Gettysburg, which is also represented in the book.
"I think it's fascinating that people save all year in order to visit Gettysburg," James said. "They get married here, celebrate their anniversaries here, and sometimes even move here upon retirement. I want to give them a way to get the most out of their trip."
With the rising price of gas and travel, James believes short road trips to historical destinations will be popular in 2023.
'You'd be surprised how many historical sites are within a day's drive of your house that you may have never heard of," James said. "You can take a trip back in time rather than a long vacation to a faraway destination."
James also loves writing about other small towns, taverns, historic hotels and almost-forgotten historical figure. She offers a free weekly newsletter through her posts on Substack.
The Gettysburg Handbook: An Insider's Travel Guide is available as an ebook now and will be available in print by mid-January both online and in select Gettysburg area stores.
Contact Jessica James on Past Lane Travels for more information.
Past Lane Travels by author Jessica James takes readers away from the typical tourist sites to lesser-known landmarks and historical experiences. For those who enjoy dirt roads instead of highways, and a slow pace instead of the rat race, Past Lane Travels explores hidden gems of history that might be in your own backyard.
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