In mid-November 1863, trainloads of visitors passed through tiny Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, where the north-south Northern Central Railway met the east-west Hanover Branch Railroad (which ran to Gettysburg). A photographer from the studio of Matthew Brady was present to capture images of some of the Gettysburg-bound passengers who are awaiting this train to head for the dedication of the National Cemetery following the Battle of Gettysburg. Among the trains that day was one carrying Governor Andrew Gregg Curtin of Pennsylvania; another later train brought President Abraham Lincoln to Hanover Junction.
These images are blown up from a single photograph in the collection of the Library of Congress in Washington. They give a good impression of the variety of dress of Union officers (who had to purchase their own uniforms, unlike enlisted men who were issued clothing by the government).
Here are some more photos taken of the crowd that November day almost 149 years ago.
This photo shows the southern-facing wall of the Hanover Junction station house. Notice the old handbill, which is an old “notice to passengers.” Among the crowd heading to Gettysburg were several well known politicians.
This view shows the eastern-facing side of the depot, with the large porch and the identifying Hanover Junction sign. Also note the women who appear to be wearing mourning clothes (perhaps widows of soldiers killed at Gettysburg?).
One of Matthew Brady’s portable cameras still sits in front of the depot. It was likely used for other crowd shots such as the one below which for a time in the 1950s was touted as being of President Lincoln. However, he never left his train, which arrived much later in the day than when the series of photographs were taken by Brady’s men.
The old Junction Hotel is at the left of this photograph. The building still stands today as a private residence. All of the track is long gone except for the line at the extreme right, which is today part of the Heritage Rail Trail, a popular biking and hiking venue.
The photographer has moved the camera well away from the depot for this wider shot. This shot cannot be replicated today from the same camera angle because of the growth of vegetation and other buildings.
The cameraman has moved past the depot along the tracks to Hanover / Gettysburg. He is now facing eastward toward the Northern Central Railway’s repaired bridge over Codorus Creek. Confederate cavalry had burned the original wooden bridge on June 27, 1863, in a raid during the Gettysburg Campaign. The U.S. Military Railroad had repaired the bridge, which later that summer was again destroyed, this time during a flood. The NCRW then constructed the bridge shown here.
Hanover Junction is now a stop on the Heritage Rail Trail. The depot houses a free museum. which is open during selected weekend hours during the summertime.
If you go: Hanover Junction is on Pennsylvania Route 616 south of U.S. Route 30 in York County. There is no charge for parking or for using the Rail Trail.