York County tourist attractions are already preparing for an event that's 30 miles and nearly 10 months away, expecting the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg to be the biggest event of summer 2013.

The York County Convention & Visitors Bureau is gearing up to field an overflow of visitors at the end of June and during the first week of July.

Though the official anniversary is July 1-3, bureau spokeswoman Allison Freeman said she's expecting Gettysburg -- and hopefully, York -- to be popular all summer.

"There's definitely more of an interest to attract visitors to York ... because, when we talked to the Gettysburg CVB, they said they expect hotel rooms within a 200-mile radius to be booked," Freeman said. "They already have hotel rooms booked ... the whole way out to State College. It sounds like it's going to be absolutely huge from what we're hearing."

Company president Patrick Kline works on a loom at Family Heirloom Weavers in Red Lion, which is making Civil War-era reproductions for the 150th
Company president Patrick Kline works on a loom at Family Heirloom Weavers in Red Lion, which is making Civil War-era reproductions for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

Hampton Inn in Hanover is already sold out from June 24 through July 8, and a Holiday Inn Express in Hanover is also sold out for days of that period.

"They said that they had people calling for reservations months ago," Freeman said.

Carl Whitehill, spokesman for the Gettysburg CVB, said he expects York and Cumberland counties and Frederick County, Md., to absorb most of the overflow.

"We're definitely looking at it as a big economic boon for the region," he said. "Adams County can't fit everybody who will be here next year. They'll also be getting rooms and eating in neighboring counties."

He said projections based on current economic data show an economic impact of $750 million in visitors spending and an extra 1 million visitors for Adams County alone in 2013.

Blankets and tents: The 2013 York County Visitors Guide will emphasize Civil War history to capitalize on the anniversary, Freeman said.

And enterprising business owners are brainstorming ways to attract the families and history buffs who might have little choice but to at least spend the night in York.

Patrick Kline, president of Red Lion-based Family Heirloom Weavers, said he's cranking out historically accurate reproduction blankets made of the same fabrics used by re-enactors. He's also making the material needed for period tents, he said.

The business is known for its home furnishing fabrics but has made Civil War-era uniforms for movies, including "Cold Mountain" and "Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." Kline formerly owned a store in Gettysburg and decided to seize the opportunity to return to clothing.

"I kind of jumped back into it a little bit, but for the 150th, I'd be crazy not to take advantage of it," he said.

Burning bridge: The rest of York will be playing up its historical connections as well, Freeman said.

"We're hoping people come over because we're close and we do have some interesting heritage," she said. "People are interested because we were the capital for a little while, but the burning of the bridge really seems to be our claim to fame in terms of what people know York County for."

A bridge across the Susquehanna River from Wrightsville to Columbia, Lancaster County, was burned by Union militia on June 28, 1863, to slow the advance of Confederate soldiers.

The dramatic act will be re-enacted during a days-long string of events organized in the historic river town. Civil War re-enactors, using a crane and pontoon boat, will place piles of wood on top of the 25 piers of the former bridge and ignite them.

Wrightsville will also try to attract visitors to its downtown area to visit the Burning of the Bridge Diorama and the Wrightsville Museum and is holding walking tours to highlight historical buildings and cemeteries where Civil War soldiers are buried.

'Fiery Trial': In May, the York County Heritage Trust will introduce its programming for the 150th anniversary, launching a new exhibit titled "The Fiery Trial: The York County Civil War Experience."

The exhibit will detail York's Civil War-era history, including the burning of the bridge and other significant events.

At Codorus State Park, re-enactors will gather to replicate the Battle of Hanover, with men in period garb firing canons.

And as other organizations are looking to add to York's historic activity lineup, the county's eastern neighbors in Lancaster County are also hoping to claim some of the Gettysburg visitors. There are events scheduled in Columbia, where the National Watch & Clock Museum is looking for a sponsor to hold a Civil War Ball on June 22.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.