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Gettysburg Observation Tower to be Demolished Today

Aired July 3, 2000 - 2:12 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Another one of America's national parks is getting ready for a dramatic change in its appearance. A 393-foot observation tower at the Gettysburg National Military Park is set to come tumbling down a few hours from now.

CNN's Bob Franken joins us from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with a preview -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, if you don't mind, I will tell you where I am standing. Right in front of me is the open field where General George Pickett led his Confederate troops on July 3rd, 1863. I'm standing where the Union officials -- the Union soldiers -- the vantage point they had as they slaughtered the rebel forces as they came across that field.

It became Pickett's Charge. It was probably the culminating of the most decisive battle in the Civil War, turned the tide in favor of the Union. That's the perspective. Over my shoulder, you can see the tower: 307 feet straight up, 393 feet of steel. In any case, ever since it was built in 1974 to accommodate tourists who wanted a panoramic view of the area, it has caused outrage among the preservationists.

In a little bit less than three hours, it's coming down, as you said, Natalie. Explosive charges will cause it to implode and fall down -- they hope -- exactly where it stands, and become nothing more than rubble, and join the rubble of history.

Interior secretary Bruce Babbitt is here. He had promised the preservationists that he would get rid of it before his term was up. It's almost up. It took years in court to get it done. The people who own the tower are still fighting over how much they should be compensated. Now the fight will go on after the tower comes down -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Bob Franken. Thanks, Bob.

Again, people can tune in and see it come down this afternoon.

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