Tomorrow (unless postponed by weather) is the 2017 edition of the Antietam Memorial Illumination. I won’t be attending this year as I have other commitments, but I highly recommend anyone in the area making the trip to Sharpsburg to drive through the Battlefield. The army of volunteers places one luminary on the battlefield for each casualty. Antietam remains our bloodiest day in war with 23,110 casualties, a number that isn’t fully understood until you see it represented in candles.
When Feld Entertainment announced they were closing the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, I hoped I would have a chance to see the RBBBX Circus Train that was used to move the performers and equipment from city to city. There were two such trains, the Red Unit and the Blue Unit, one for each of the two traveling shows. Both trains were a mile long, making them the largest passenger trains on the rails.
With the Blue Unit running 3 hours ahead of schedule May 8th on its way from Charleston WV to Long Island NY, there was little chance I would be able to catch it after work and in the daylight the next day. Mechanical issues caused an 8 hour delay in Roanoke VA, which allowed me to catch the train between Shepherdstown WV and Sharpsburg, MD. Sometimes you just get lucky, this was one of those times.
Every December on the first Saturday (unless postponed by weather) Antietam National Battlefield holds its annual Memorial Illumination. 23,110 luminaries are placed on the battlefield, one for each of the casualties. I managed to get a photography permit for this year’s illumination and I’m looking forward to photographing it again.
Every year on the first Saturday in December, 23,110 luminaries are lit on the fields outside Sharpsburg, MD representing the casualties from the battle of Antietam. It is a sobering site when driving through the illumination and even more so when walking the grounds with a photography permit.