Mt. Gretna Soldiers Field purchase complete as Pennsylvania Chautauqua pays Eastern Enterprises nearly a million dollars

2 min read 628 views and 56 shares Posted December 22, 2018

Eastern Enterprises Inc. has finalized its sales of Soldiers Field in Mt. Gretna to the Pennsylvania Chautauqua for a sum of $975,000, according to a list of recent area real estate transactions published by the Daily News.

Eastern Enterprises is a local company run by physician Gene Otto III, whose family has long held significant land in the area. The Otto family will continue to own and operate the Mount Gretna Lake and Beach.

The Pennsylvania Chautauqua, a National Historic Place, is owned by the couple hundred residents of Borough of Mount Gretna, which serves as the municipal governing body for the area.

Soldiers Field got its name from its historic use as the summer home of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Here are some pictures of the site when it was used for military training, before operations moved to Fort Indiantown Gap in the 30’s.

The narrow gauge seen rolling through the woods on the road to (or from?) Mount Gretna. Taken by prolific Lebanon photographer Luther Harpel in 1906.
National Guard camp in 1912. Unknown photographer.
Physical exercise and rills in July 1918. Also taken by Luther Harpel.

The military history dates back to when Robert Coleman granted the land (and cleared it) for use by the Pennsylvania 3rd Brigade. Lake Conewago dates back to around this time when the Conewago Creek was dammed.

With Soldiers Field such a big part of the Chautauqua and Mount Gretna’s history, future generations will benefit from the continuity provided by the open space. With the land, the organization hopes to organize an open space activity park featuring programming such as walking/fitness trails, bird watching, picnic areas, connections to the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails network, and activities for children.

Comments

  1. Gretna is surrounded with forever open space, “future generations will benefit from the continuity provided by the open space.” Greater Gretna is surrounded by open space; PA Game Lands to the south and west, and Clarence Schock Memorial Park (Gov Dick) to the south and east. As to parade fields, the open Shay land to the north was very much a part of the PANG encampment. Only time will tell if this $1 million acreage remains “an open space activity park featuring programming such as walking/fitness trails, bird watching, picnic areas, connections to the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails network, and activities for children.” My bet is a future parking lot!

  2. I spent many summers (and a few winters) in Gretna. My father and mother loved Mt. Gretna and bought a cottage on Brown Ave in 1947 (which is still in the family). As a kid I would sometimes camp out on Soldier’s Field with friends. I have many fond memories of those times.
    I am delighted that Gretna residents have taken the action to buy Soldier’s Field, even at the exploited price by the Ottos. (I worked several summers for Poppy and Gene Otto at the Playhouse and at the Lake when I was a kid, and Gee was a friend, and I can understand the Otto family’s thinking with this high price.)
    It is good to know that future generations can continue to enjoy the open land of Soldier’s Field as my friends and I did. Jerry Gebhard

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