~ U.S. Route 6 and Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania ~

U.S. Route 6 (US 6), also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, a name that honors an American Civil War veterans association, is a main route of the U.S. Highway system, running east-northeast from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Until 1964, it continued south from Bishop to Long Beach, California, and was a transcontinental route. After U.S. Route 20, it is the second-longest U.S. highway in the United States and the longest continuous highway. U.S. Route 20 is interrupted at Yellowstone National Park, because the highways aren't numbered within national parks. The total length of US 6 is 3205 miles.

Fort Indiantown Gap, also referred to as "The Gap" or "FTIG", is a U.S. Army post primarily located in Lebanon County of Pennsylvania. A portion of the installation is located in eastern Dauphin County. It lies adjacent to Interstate 81, 23 miles northeast of Harrisburg, just north of the northern terminus of Pennsylvania Route 934 at I-81's Exit 85. It was on I-81 that I saw the sign for Indiantown Gap and it brought back some memories for me, so I decided to stop.

The installation is an active National Guard Training Center and serves as headquarters for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The history of Fort Indiantown Gap dates back to 1755, when resentment of the Susquehannock Indians toward white settlers forced the colonial government of Pennsylvania to establish a fortification in the area. The Susquehannock, who had been cultivating the land in that area of Pennsylvania for well over three thousand years, became willing allies against the colonists as the French and Indian War began. At the onset of the war, the Susquehannock attacked colonial frontier settlements using the passes that existed in Blue Mountain through Manada Gap, Indiantown Gap, and Swatara Gap. Because of these attacks, a chain of fortifications was established across the northern tier of Lebanon County, which included Fort Indiantown Gap.

U.S. Route 6 in Pennsylvania

There were many construction areas on US 6
US 6 runs for 394 miles in Pennsylvania between its entrance point 20 miles west of Meadville and its exit at Matamoras on the New York border. For most of its length US 6 runs roughly parallel to the New York-Pennsylvania border. The only state with a longer stretch of US 6 is Colorado with a length of 467 miles.

And many mountains

The photos above were taken on the first day of my New England tour, July 16, 2012, and I would not take those below until September 8

Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania

The modern post was originally developed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on the recommendation of General Edward Martin, as a National Guard training site in 1931. Over the years, the installation has served as home to the Pennsylvania National Guard as well as active units of the United States Army. In 1941, the post was officially named Indiantown Gap Military Reservation (IGMR). Martin retired from military service and went on to serve as Governor of Pennsylvania and then State Senator. After his death, the Legislature of Pennsylvania renamed the installation the Edward Martin Military Reservation, a designation that Martin himself had rejected throughout his life. The new name was never fully accepted by the military personnel who served there. In 1975, the Secretary of the Army renamed the post Fort Indiantown Gap, in order to more closely align it with other Active Duty stations throughout the United States. Pennsylvania also reinstated the Indiantown Gap designation, which it retains today.
Back when my memories were being formed, the name was Indiantown Gap Military Installation. For me it will always be IGMR. The times when I went there were in the early 1960s. I was a member of a Military Advanced Trick Drill Team at Gannon College. Each year, in the spring, for three years we would bus down to IGMR for one of our many drill meets. We would arrive on Friday night, perform on Saturday and have an awards ceremony on Sunday, then head back to Erie on Sunday afternoon. During the 1960s and early 1970s, during the Vietnam War, Fort Indiantown Gap served as one of the largest Reserve Officers Training Corps summer camps for the U.S. Army. Several of my friends spent a summer there learning how to be U.S. Army officers. Something I would learn a couple of years later at the U.S. Army Artillery Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Fort Indiantown Gap is presently a staging area for the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division, the only National Guard Stryker brigade in the U.S. Army. Since the September 11th attacks, the Gap has served as a mobilization center for troops supporting operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as operations Enduring Freedom.

Things hadn't changed much since I was there 50 years ago. Those helicopters are new, but the barracks buildings were the same as the ones in which I stayed. One of the two pictured here may have been one that I did stay in. They were just across the road from the Parade Field and I recall setting out Road Guards to cross that road.

The Parade Field now doubles as an Helicopter Airfield, but still performs its original purpose according to a soldier I talked with there.

Our Lady of Victory Chapel

Living quarters for a high ranking Officer

Nostalgia: Above is Company O-5 of the Pershing Rifles Advanced Trick
Drill Team. You can't see me as I am the last one in the second row. On the
left are myself and my best friend, Dennis McSweeney. These were taken
just before a Drill meet at Washington and Jefferson College. The
jackets were olive drab Eisenhower jackets dyed navy blue. The
trousers were starched until they would stand on their own and had to be
broken, by sticking a stiff object like a yard stick down the legs, before
putting them on, hence the term "breaking starch."

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