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.