Pennsylvania Invites World to Explore Its Civil War Trails on Google Earth

Apr 01, 2010, 10:00 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development

High-Definition, Panoramic Images Provide Stunning View of Historic Sites

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania today became the first state in the nation to use Google Earth and GigaPan as a means of inspiring travel through a new tool that enables people to explore the Pennsylvania Civil War Trails online.

"This new tool for Pennsylvania Civil War Trails will allow Pennsylvania to solidify its position as an industry 'thought leader' in tourism by not just embracing emerging technologies, but by building them," said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary George Cornelius.

"While this is exciting news for Civil War enthusiasts, it also holds great potential for our state's economy. This investment will accelerate the adoption and use of technology, including the use of interactive marketing for tourism, which will drive regional economic development," he added.

Cornelius said the online tool provides high-definition panoramic images that connect visual exploration to fascinating historical information.

GigaPan, or gigapixel panoramas, technology combines thousands of digital images to create a panoramic picture in excess of one billion pixels. Based on technology originally developed for NASA's robotic exploration of Mars, GigaPan allows online visitors to immerse themselves in an image and explore it.

"The Pennsylvania Civil War Trails project is pioneering the use of new online media, including the revolutionary GigaPan technology, to re-imagine how the public can research, explore and visit the fantastic historic sites throughout our commonwealth," said Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University's The Robotics Institute. "This new information, which will be accessible from all manner of tourism sites throughout the state, will drive economies through tourism and drive history education and technology education in local schools. We are proud that Carnegie Mellon has been a member of the team that has made this possible."

"Travelers are motivated by the captivating pictures they see in magazines and billboards; with the global reach and interactive capabilities of Google Earth we will inspire the masses to say, 'I would love to go there' as they experience our Civil War trails," added Mickey Rowley, deputy secretary for tourism. "The panoramas featured are so detailed and vast that viewers will feel like they are one with the image and mere footsteps away from these historic sites."

The Pennsylvania Civil War Trails program educates people about the women and children under siege during the war; African-American contributions in the defense of the state; and the endurance of ordinary citizens during a time of great unrest.

Stories are told through 40 new "story stops," which are living history presentations, and at historic sites in and between the communities of Carlisle, Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Hanover, Harrisburg, Wrightsville and York.

Google Earth technology provides for a visual display of information about a specific location. Building on this platform, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office incorporated information from the "story stops" as well as the GigaPan images. These images are possible with technology developed through the Global Connections Project, a partnership that includes CMU, Google and NASA's Ames Research Center.

The Pennsylvania Civil War Trails on Google Earth was made possible through financial support from the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, CMU, Google, and the Dutch Country Roads regional tourism marketing partnership. For more information, visit

The Pennsylvania Tourism Office, under the state Department of Community and Economic Development, is dedicated to inspiring travel to the State of Independence. For more information, go to or call (800) VISIT PA; become a fan at, follow us at, share photos at, or watch us on For a free subscription to Pursuits Magazine, go to

CONTACT:  Michael Chapaloney - Tourism, +1-717-720-1302, or Jamie Yates - Technology Investment, +1-717-783-1132

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development