Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Podcasts are in!

New Podcast Enhances Visitor Experience at Antietam National Battlefield
Most-Visited Historical Attraction in Western Maryland Now Has Audio and Video Programs

( SHARPSBURG , Md. ) – Antietam National Battlefield is just one of several national parks across the country where park rangers are turning into podcasters. Hundreds of brief audio and video programs are up on park websites and on iTunes giving visitors a new national park experience. People can learn about park resources, take a guided tour, get help planning trips, and meet actual rangers.

"While nothing can replace a personal experience in a national park, we think our podcasts will enhance people’s trips or give them the opportunity to learn about a park that they can’t visit," said Mary A. Bomar, Director of the National Park Service (NPS). "Whether people download them to portable devices or watch them on their computers, these free electronic presentations give us another way to serve park enthusiasts of all ages."

Podcasts are a great way to offer ranger-led tours of specific areas that people can enjoy on their own schedule. More and more people download guided tours onto their own iPods or mp3 players prior to their national park trip. When they arrive, they literally have a ranger in the palm of their hand to guide them on a walking or driving tour.

"The use of podcasts is something new for us, but definitely something we will be expanding," said Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent John W. Howard. "They are quite popular with our visitors. The Cornfield podcast has already had about 100,000 hits since it first came out. Civil War Traveler and Antietam rangers are currently working on a new podcast for the Union Advance Trail near Burnside Bridge , so stay tuned."

The podcast can be downloaded from the Civil War Traveler website at www.CivilWarTraveler.com or from iTunes, located at www.iTunes.com. The Civil War Traveler site includes a downloadable map showing all the walking tour stops. A 16-page full color trail guide is available on the Antietam National Battlefield website at www.nps.gov/anti.

Antietam is one of four Civil War battlefields in the United States to offer a podcast of an NPS ranger talking about the decisive and dramatic battle. Park staff worked with Civil War Traveler to develop the Antietam podcast. Interpretive Park Ranger Keith Snyder provides real time interpretation along the eight stops of the 1.6 mile Cornfield Trail. An introduction is given by John Fieseler and music is provided by Southern Horizon, a group that performs 19th century period music. John Fieseler is a well-known former radio personality, and is the Executive Director of the Frederick County Tourism Council. Fieseler additionally serves on the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area board of directors. The Maryland-Certified Heritage Area includes Washington County, Frederick County, and Carroll County.

Antietam National Battlefield is the site of the bloodiest single day battle in American history. At the conclusion of the September 17, 1862 battle there were 23,110 casualties. Today, Antietam is considered North America's most well-preserved Civil War battlefield park. The visitors center had more than 300,000 people stop inside during 2007, and during that year the park counted an estimated 700,000 people throughout the 3,200 acre site. The park also offers guided tours, and Segway tours through TourGlides. For additional information about Antietam visit www.nps.gov/anti.

Antietam National Battlefield is a member of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information, see: www.marylandmemories.com.

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