Gettysburg National Military Park Chief Ranger Ryan Levins informs Sandy McGlaughlin of York Springs of the park s closure after posting a notice on the
Gettysburg National Military Park Chief Ranger Ryan Levins informs Sandy McGlaughlin of York Springs of the park s closure after posting a notice on the East Confederate Avenue gate Tuesday. Although private museums and other attractions are still open in Gettysburg, the government shutdown has closed the battlefield park indefinitely. (Bill Kalina photo)

Traffic through the Jennie Wade House Museum was a bit heavier Tuesday than on a typical October weekday.

That's the good news.

But, if the federal government shutdown continues, "It's going to keep people away eventually," said Elizabeth Lang, who manages the museum, the former home of the only civilian to die in the Battle of Gettysburg.

"If it looks like it's going to be a long ongoing thing, it will definitely hurt the businesses," Lang said.

That's because would-be tourists might decide to postpone a trip Gettysburg while Republicans and Democrats fight over the budget. Private businesses, like the Jennie Wade museum, are still operating in Gettysburg despite the shutdown.

But the battlefield - perhaps the biggest draw of all - is mostly closed to the public.

The David Wills House and the Eisenhower National Historic Site are also closed.

Some roads through the battlefield remain open because they provide access to other areas, said Carl Whitehill, spokesman for the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

But, he said, "You are not allowed to walk in the fields."

The visitor center, operated by the Gettysburg Foundation, is open.

Less than 24 hours into the shutdown, it's too early to gauge the impact of the political standstill on Gettysburg's economy, Whitehill said.

"Our thoughts are that the businesses that have a direct arrangement with Gettysburg National Military Park are those that will feel the biggest impact," he said.

Those, for example, include tour companies. However, Gettysburg's licensed battlefield guides - who are not federal employees - are still giving tours using the open roads, Whitehill said.

Gettysburg's stewards are hoping for a quick resolution.

In the meantime, tourism officials want the public to know that the town's museums, restaurants and stores are open for business, Whitehill said.

"There's still plenty to do here," he said.

- Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.