Gettysburg park ranger: Don’t take rocks ‘unless you want to be cursed’

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park is reminding visitors to the Civil War battlefield that even small rocks should not be taken home as souvenirs.

“Unless, of course, you want to be cursed.”

Park Ranger Maria Brady, in a recent post on The Blog of Gettysburg National Military Park, wrote that while removing rocks from the park is a federal offense that carries a $100 fine and a $30 processing fee, there are some people who may have preferred that penalty.

Brady wrote of the boxes mailed to Gettysburg, often without a return address, that hold rocks previously removed from the park. In almost every case, she said the packages contain a letter.

One letter received in May came from a man who wrote that he had visited the park with his wife years ago and removed three small stones.

“We didn’t know then how the removal of those stones would affect our lives and we didn’t know that they were cursed,” the man wrote. “It wasn’t long after that our lives fell apart. My wife took our son and walked out on me. I lost my house and a majority of what I owned and ended up in prison for nine years. My now ex-wife has fared no better. She has been plagued with health problems and other issues. When I was released from prison, I was able to find a place to live. As I was going through what my mother was able to salvage, I found the stones and remembered what I had read in prison about the stones being cursed. I’m sorry that we had taken them.”

In another letter received in June 2015, a former visitor asked the National Park Service to return a small stone and twig that was removed from the top of Devil’s Den in 2006.

“Yes, it was wrong and I’m sorry,” the author wrote. “Since then, I’ve had nothing but horrible times, injured on the job, several surgeries, relationship failures, etc. Perhaps coincidental, maybe, but I’m returning the small stone and twig.”

Brady wrote that many of the stone walls in the park are historic and existed at the time of the battle. Some were erected by farmers as boundaries for their fields, and some were used by soldiers looking for cover.

“So, no matter how pretty that rock is, or how small it might be, or how much you really want something to remind you of how much you love Gettysburg, please remember that it needs to remain right where it is,” Brady wrote.

“Unless, of course, you want to be cursed.”

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