Tour Pennsylvania’s Civil War Trails from inside Google Earth

[From Jaunted (“The Pop Culture Travel Guide”)]

Tour Pennsylvania’s Civil War Trails From Inside Google Earth

April 2, 2010 at 5:05 PM | by Omri

If you’ve ever wanted to tour Pennsylvania’s historic Civil War sites but can’t imagine navigating the perennially-unfinished death trap that is the Turnpike, we’ve got good news! A new project spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office aims to deliver the state’s Civil War Trails right to your desktop, blending Google Earth technology, historical information, and incredible high-def GigaPan panoramic photos. The images are so detailed that you can literally zoom in on gravestone inscriptions, to say nothing of the centuries-old houses and towns that users are able to navigate.

The project—a collaborative effort mixing the talents of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth, Google, Carnegie Mellon, NASA, and the National Civil War Museum—aims both to educate the public and to promote Pennsylvania’s many historical tourist destinations. It’s part of the state’s broader Civil War Trails site, which catalogs everything Civil War-esque that has to do with Pennsylvania.

There are eight different kinds of landmarks embedded into the map, from battlefields to historic towns and from museums to hallowed grounds. The two most interesting categories are probably the 40 or so “Story Stops,” behind which you’ll find narratives, pictures, and historical sketches, not to mention the GigaPan Photos. Which, if you’re just trying to get a feel for how a battle might have progressed, make for pretty awesome viewing.

Civil War enthusiasts will obviously be able to immerse themselves for weeks on the site, but the project is also amazing strictly from a technological standpoint. It’s not quite virtual reality yet—although some day soon it will be—but it’s nonetheless an above-average weekend time waster.

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