Let's enjoy a nice evening on the Orange Trail. This 3.5 mile loop covers most of the grounds, including two prairies, the ponds, and the Argonne Forest.
Meet at the Argonne Forest parking lot. Link to Park Map
imagecopyright 2006 nutsyfagan on Flickr
The park is open until 10 pm, but I figure we'll be done before 9 at the latest. Should still have some light, but please bring a flashlight in case we get distracted or delayed and it gets dark.
This is a beautiful park with lots of great history and I always enjoy walking the Argonne Forest trying to picture what is was like when there was a midway, cabins, a dance floor, a race track and other amusement park amenities. It's all long gone now, but there are still shadows of the past that we will see as we walk though the park.
Argonne Forest was one of five amusement parks serving the Dayton area. The park was developed in 1925 and named by the local veterans of the 322nd Field Artillery Regiment who had fought in the French forest by that name in 1917-1918. Its founder, Montgomery County Judge Null Hodapp, offered an 80 foot by 30 foot dance pavilion, swimming pool, a figure eight race track, a baseball field, shuffleboard, a picnic area, a shooting range, a midway, cabins and a clubhouse. Retired street cars were utilized as picnic shelters. The area was known for its abundance of beech trees.
Argonne Forest was located on State Route 4 and Frytown Road near the studios of WKEF-TV.
In its prime, the park once attracted over 8000 during a Fourth of July celebration in the 1930’s. The park could not keep up the popularity of nearby Lakeside and Frankie’s Forest Park and closed in 1945 after the death of Hodapp.
The remnants of the park and the area surrounding it became property of Five Rivers MetroParks of Montgomery County and renamed Possum Creek MetroPark. In September 2003, MetroPark volunteers began uncovering brush and debris that covered the old amusement park. Historical markers and trail indicators were installed along the area of what were the midway and picnic areas.
The only existing monument of the park, the clubhouse, is still standing today. MetroPark officials were also successful in locating Null Hodapp’s nephew, Kettering resident Ruey Hodapp who provided them with information on the park and his uncle. A round of applause to Five Rivers MetroParks for helping preserve our amusement park heritage!