In Pennsylvania, Google Earth will now present panoramic views in and around 56 historical markers, an arrangement organized by state tourism folks. They thought it was a good idea. I suppose they have not heard the music industry say that free downloads are killing their business.
Will virtual tours kill actual ones?
The person looking to tour is seeking a special feeling that arises when the imagination is engaged standing on actual, historical ground. Seeing panoramic views of the same on your PC screen is no substitute - it's like looking at someone else's vacation snaps. If the tourism mavens understand that much, good. If they think, on the other hand, that these views are bait, they err.
History buffs are self-directed (inner-directed) - not impulse buyers packing up for a sudden trip to Pennsylvania Marker No. 56 (because the panorama there looks so good on Google!). They can drag indifferent family and friends along to "brand name" battlefields, but they cannot drag them to random markers in cow pastures. The corollary idea, that they'll enrich the state by buying $1.97 worth of soda at the nearest gas station after this Google-inspired vacation is touchingly sad.
How do you plan a vacation? There's a process of elimination in the planning during which stops are removed, itineraries are trimmed. This Google Earth project will help planners eliminate most Pennsylvania stops.
An afterthought. For most of this post, you have been reading under the assumption that we are talking about battlefield or campaign markers. No. We are talking about Civil War social history markers.
"This is a deeper immersion into the Civil War, beyond battlefields and generals and into the lives of the people living in Pennsylvania at the time," said Lenwood Sloan of the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.You see the effect "heritage tourism" has on these people.