Formerly known as Camp Shenango, Camp Reynolds was a World War II Military Personnel Replacement Depot located on what is now Transfer, Pennsylvania in Northwestern Pennsylvania.
The story of how nearly 3,300 acres of rich Pymatuning Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania farmland were transformed almost overnight into the largest cantonment of its kind in the whole of the United States at that time has to be one of the more intriguing tales to come out of the Second World War for Mercer Countians in general and for Reynolds area residents in particular. It is a narrative which for the most part has been told before, but which certainly is worthy of repetition on this golden anniversary of the beginning of that never to be forgotten event.
In about six short months there sprang from the Pymatuning potato fields three miles south of Greenville, Pennsylvania a vast military installation which would become the parade ground for a million servicemen bound for the European theater of operations.
The original Camp Shenango, which later was to become Camp Reynolds, was unlike any other military depot at that time, not only in formation but also in construction. Its impressive array of service clubs, gymnasiums, chapels, libraries, theaters, hospital, post exchanges, guest facilities, etc. rivaled those of any post in the country. Its purpose was to receive, process, and forward both officers and enlisted men. Individual stay depended on the branch of operations and the demand for replacements. From Shenango-Reynolds the Europe-bound troops went directly to East Coast ports of embarkation and left immediately for overseas destinations. But all that is getting ahead of the story. Toward the end of the third week in June 1942 articles appearing in the area newspapers hinted of plans for the establishment of "a large project" south of Greenville, the nature of which was regarded as a military secret. Actually the media had a fairly good idea of what was going on but had been operating under voluntary censorship since the Attack on Pearl Harbor six months earlier.
On June 24 the War Department announced in Washington the authorization and awarding of contracts totaling more than $3,000,000 for a military installation near Shenango. Acquisition of Pymatuning farmlands began almost immediately. A total of 26 farms were taken over initially. Good cooperation was shown by most of the landowners who considered the price offered by the government, averaging $70 per acre, to be fair. The first parcel of 57 acres was purchased for $40,500 and included space for warehouses. Shortly thereafter an additional 114 acres were acquired at a cost of $10,252. By the time the procurement of land ended in November 1942 the total land cost for 3,300 acres was $182,000. Original Camp Shenango specifications called for a three-part camp consisting of a service area ( theaters, gyms, etc.), a hospital and headquarters area, and a battalion area consisting of barracks and other facilities to house 30,000 troops.
No sooner had this first section been completed than the War Department decided to expand the battalion area to accommodate another 30,000 men. After this was completed the camp was expanded once again to include a total of 90,000.
Gannett, Eastman, Fleming of Harrisburg, and Mellon-Stuart Construction Co. of Pittsburgh received the contracts to design and build the encampment. The buildings were designed and constructed to last only three years. A permanent installation was never contemplated. Civil Service examiners began taking applications for a "considerable number" of people to be hired almost immediately and ground was broken July 8 for the first supply building near the overhead highway bridge on Route 18. With the weatherman's cooperation the project soon began to mushroom as the 4,200 men initially employed by the main contractors and 24 subcontractors began working 10-hour and six-day weeks. Thousands of engineers and construction workers and their families flocked to the Greenville area, boosting the town's population from 8,149 in 1940 to 13,015 in 1943, an increase of 60 per cent.
Trailer camps were established to handle the sudden influx of workers and other housing facilities were pressed to the limit. It had always been reported that the number may have been closer to 16,500. That is the figure the Mellon-Stuart firm mentioned in a wartime letter. In all some 1,000 structures were erected about the time 1942 had run its course. In addition to barracks facilities for both officers and men the camp included several theaters and gymnasiums, three obstacle courses, chapels, fire stations, warehouses, dayrooms, post exchanges, a 100-bed hospital, mess halls, latrines, a rifle range, motor pool quarters, etc. In short, these facilities could support a temporary town of 90,000 persons at any given time. Additionally, the base had its own sewage treatment plant and waste disposal facilities. There were 18 miles of sewer lines, hundreds of fire hydrants, 25 miles of paved roads, 22 miles of water lines, and over 100 miles of electric lines. Two 250,000-gallon water tanks at the southern end of the encampment supplied water for the area for many years after the war ended. They were among the many facilities which were to have a lasting value to the area and to be in part responsible for the housing development which started in the 1950s. Originally it was estimated that the camp project would cost a few million dollars, but a total in excess of $19,000,000 was said to have been spent in the overall construction. The final cost never was announced officially.
One construction figure that was revealed was the $624,466 cost of the 10 dormitory units erected on the west side of Route 18. The dormitories provided housing for 180 families. After the war they were converted into what is known today as Fay Terrace, a county-owned housing project.
Camps Shenango and Reynolds had six commanders. First to arrive during the very early construction days was Lt. Col. G.H. Sunderman, who came Oct. 1, 1942, and was followed by a quartermaster detachment of seven men from Fort Monroe, VA. On Nov. 4, Lt. Col. George H. Cherrington arrived and was followed by the first components of the headquarters company from New Cumberland, PA. Colonel Zim E. Lawhon took over on May 27, 1943, coming from the general staff of the War Department. He died on Armistice Day of that same year and was buried at Arlington Cemetery outside the nation's capital. It was during Colonel Lawhon's command that the name of the camp was changed from Shenango to Reyolds in honor of General John F. Reynolds, who was a hero of the Civil War and was felled by a Confederate sharpshooter on the opening day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
After Lawhon's death came Col. George E. Couper, who commanded until Dec. 23 when Brig. Gen. Jesse A. Ladd was designated commander. He served in that capacity until the replacement depot was deactivated to the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation on Dec. 11, 1944. After his departure Camp Reynolds assumed a ghost town appearance.
The last commander was Lt. Co. George Blaney. He took over after the post became the army's first full-time canvas and webbing repair facility. At that time it had a complement of about 300 to man the hospital and to guard the more than 1,000 German prisoners of war. Repatriation of the last prisoners was completed in mid-January 1946.
During its heyday Camps Shenango and Reynolds had their own post office and published their own weekly newspaper, the Victory News . Printed at the Record-Argus, the Victory News appeared between April. 15, 1943 and Nov. 30, 1944.
Stage, screen, and radio headliners, together with sports notables and persons prominent in other fields of public endeavor, entertained troops at the camp. Among the outstanding guests were band leaders Satchmo Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Blue Barron, Bob Strong, and Wayne King, singer-actress Judy Garland, the Mills Brothers, Virginia Weidler, Bonnie Baker, June Priesser, contralto Alice Stewart, boxers Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Two-Ton Tony Galento and Fritzie Zivic, and Governor Edward Martin .
Others in the constant parade of entertainers were Major Bowes and his Amateur Hour, the Truth or Consequences radio show, the Camel Caravan, billiard experts Irving Crane and Charles Peterson, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians, Stu Erwin and the cast of "Goodnight Ladies", the Harmonice Rascals, Olsen and Johnson's "Helzapoppin", Art Rooney, Andy Kerr, a number of touring OSO shows and amateur theatrical groups from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Youngstown, and Sharon.
Much of the entertainment was provided by the servicemen themselves. They organized track and field, boxing and baseball teams, stage productions, a drum and bugle corps, several dance bands and bowling, handball and basketball leagues. One post cage tournament attracted no less than 23 GI teams. Allegheny, Westminster, Geneva, and Bethany Colleges made exhibition basketball appearances. With upwards of 75,000 men stationed in an unfamiliar area something had to be done to occupy the troops during off-duty hours away from the camp. The United Service Organization and the War Department constructed a recreation center in Greenville's Riverside Park at a cost of $86,000. During its 18 months of operation the center hosted 812,530 servicemen. Another USO center was operated at the Buhl Club in Sharon. During its two years the Sharon center hosted 475,000 soldiers.
Attractive bus and rail fares enabled many soldiers to travel to Sharon, New Castle, Farrell, Youngstown, and other nearby cities to seek rest and relaxation before their departure overseas.
After the camp's final deactivation the Trimble Company of Pittsburgh was awarded the general contract for razing the hundreds of barracks. The city of Erie acquired 200, Cleveland more than 100, Jamestown, NY 50, Johnstown 50, Connellsville 30, etc. The city of Pittsburgh and several area colleges, among them Thiel, Allegheny, and Westminster, bought additional dozens, as did many individuals seeking to convert them to garages, hunting camps, and other uses. How the many other structures and facilities and the campsite itself were acquired by the Greenville Business Men's Association for future industrial and residential development is described in another section.
Camp Reynolds as we knew it in wartime may be long gone, but strong memories linger of what certainly had to be one of the most memorable and exciting chapters in this county's long and colorful history.
General John F. Reynolds
The community, now known as Reynolds, had not one but three names during its wartime history. In 1942 Reynolds came into being as the Shenango Personnel Replacement Depot and was originally named for the nearby village of Shenango. On railroad timetables it bore the Victory, PA designation. Possibly because the original name was somewhat unwieldy, the War Department decreed in July 1943 that the military depot should bear the name of Camp Reynolds in honor of one of the Keystone State's military heroes of the War between the States. The new designation paid tribute to the memory of Major General John Fulton Reynolds, one of the 51 Union generals ‘who died in battle during the Civil War’. He was killed by a 16-year-old Confederate sharpshooter on July 1, 1863, the first day of the bloody action at Gettysburg. John F. Reynolds was one of the most universally admired officers of the Army of the Potomac. A compassionate man, he was said to be genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of the soldiers under his command.
By general consensus he was also the army's best horseman. Noted for his equestrian skills, he reportedly could pick up a dime from the ground while his mount was at full gallop. A handsome man, General Reynolds stood six feet tall and was narrow-waisted. He had black hair and a full beard and was deeply tanned as a result of his many months in the outdoors. John F. Reynolds was born Sept. 20, 1820, at Lancaster, PA. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY when he was only 21 years of age. Twenty years later, when the Civil War erupted, he was West Point's commandant. Early in his military career General Reynolds served in the Mexican War and in the Rogue River Indian and Utah expeditions. Starting in 1861 he commanded a brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves which was merged with the First Corps, Army of the Potomac. Later he went with Gen. J. M. McDowell to the Department of the Rappahannock but eventually returned to the Army of the Potomac to head a brigade in the Fifth Corps for the move to the James River scene of action.
After having been taken a prisoner of war at Glendale, VA, he was freed in an exchange for Confederate troops. Following his return to action he joined the Third Corps, Army of Virginia, in which Reynolds commanded a division. Again with the Army of the Potomac, he was given a First Corps command on Sept. 29, 1862. Still later he was promoted to major-general of Volunteers.
General Reynolds was directing two regiments and commanding the left wing of the army of Gen. George C. Meade, the Union commander at Gettysburg, when he died. About 10 o'clock in the morning General Reynolds and a group of aides rode ahead of their troops to reconnoiter an area bordering the eastern edge of McPherson's woods, about a mile west of Gettysburg.
Astride his horse on an elevated piece of ground, Reynolds surveyed the area with his field glasses, issued orders to couriers and started them off in various directions.
Reynolds seemed not to care that he was exposed and in the presence of the enemy. As he turned to see how close his troops were behind him a sharpshooter fired from a vantage point in a cherry tree in the woods and killed the general outright. The sharpshooter actually fired two shots from a distance of about 800 yards. The first shot fell short and the second Minie ball, named for the Frenchman who had invented this type of ammunition, struck the general in the back of the neck, passed through his head, and emerged near his eye. As General Reynolds slumped dead without uttering a word his frightened horse bolted and dragged the fallen officer, his one foot still entangled in a stirrup, for a short distance before aides could corral the bolting steed, and remove the general's body. A detachment from the 76th New York Regiment wrapped the body in an army blanket and took it to the nearby home of a man named George George. From there the general was removed by ambulance to Baltimore and eventually to Lancaster for burial. The sharpshooter who killed General Reynolds was a young soldier by the name of Benjamin Thorpe. He was from the area of Satterwhite, NC and was considered to be one of the best marksmen in General Robert E. Lee's army. Thorpe was serving in the 26th North Carolina Infantry under the command of Confederate General James T. Archer when it engaged the "Iron Brigade" directed by Reynolds. A considerable time elapsed before Thorpe was to learn who the victim of his deadly long-barreled rifle had been. Instead of exulting, Thorpe was deeply remorseful that he had killed the idol of the Northern army, a man much admired even by his wartime foes.
After the war Thorpe wrote to members of the Reynolds family to explain the circumstances and to express his regret and sorrow. Not many young soldiers would have done that.
The Reynolds family, in the same good spirit, replied by saying the general's death was "a fortune of war". The letter stated that the general's family harbored no animosity.
Forty years later a group of Union survivors of the Gettysburg conflict went to visit Thorpe, who had never married, and who at that time was operating a plantation in Carolina's Piedmont region. Although Thorpe rarely discussed the 1863 incident he did tell visitors that "I was genuinely sorry then, and I have been sorry ever since." He told the visiting veterans that if he were still living the next Memorial Day he would send a floral tribute to be placed on the Reynolds grave.
At the time General Reynolds died General Meade called him "the noblest and the bravest" and said that his loss would be keenly felt by the Union forces. Harry Huth, one of the Confederate officers opposing Reynolds at Gettysburg, said "the country might well mourn and in doing so honor herself." Similar views were expressed by other Confederate officers at Gettysburg who had served with or under Reynolds in the old army days or when he was West Point commandant.
Union General H. J. Hunt said of Reynolds: "He had opened brilliantly a battle which would require three days of hard fighting to close with victory. To him may be applied in a wider sense than in its original one, Napier's happy eulogium on Ridge: “'None died on that field with more glory than he, yet many died and there was much glory.' ".
Reynolds fell "with soul unquaking" - from Gettysburg, a Battle Ode, written for the Society of the Army of the Potomac and read at its reunion with Confederate survivors on the battlefield at Gettysburg on July 3, 1888, the 25th anniversary of the battle. A bronze statue now marks the spot where General Reynolds died at Gettysburg. The state of Pennsylvania erected a granite shaft there as well as a bronze equestrian statue at Philadelphia. After the war many of the men who had served under him commissioned an oil portrait of the general which hangs in the library at West Point.
This, then, is the story of Pennsylvania's most celebrated hero-victim of the Civil War. The name this Mercer County community now bears is inseparably linked with the history of this country at a turning point in its course.
When World War II began to wind down there were still more than 1,800 German prisoners of war housed in Camp Reynolds barracks. They were among the 15,000-plus German POWS under army control in the Maryland-Pennsylvania-West Virginia area near the war's end. Most of these men had been put to work in area industries and logging camps to relieve the manpower shortage even though this practice stirred public criticism in some areas. They were assigned to factories and plants in the Shenango Valley, Meadville, Youngstown, and Warren, OH. There is no record of any German soldiers assigned to Greenville shops or plants.
Under terms of the Geneva Convention all of the prisoners with the exception of officers could be made to work as the U.S. Army saw fit. Some worked at logging camps in the area of North East, Kane, Sheffield, and Marienville.
According to John Gessner, who was an Army captain at the time and worked with the Germans on frequent occasions, still other prisoners worked at the Reynolds sewing center after the civilian employees had left for the day.
Now an attorney living in Cortland, OH, Gessner recalled that for the most part the Germans were a docile lot. There was one occasion in November 1945 when it became necessary to place 280 of the POWs on a bread-and-water diet after they staged a sit-down strike because their Nazi spokesman had been shipped out of camp. The strike was short-lived.
A few of the prisoners did attempt to escape from Reynolds but in all instances except one the escapees were caught and returned to camp. One man who got away never was captured.
Perhaps the most notorious of the Reynolds' escapees was a young man named Heinz Golz. He attempted three escapes. He was recaptured the first time near Oil City and on another occasion had to be rescued by police from atop a suburban Pittsburgh dwelling where he had been chased by two dogs. In October 1945 a total of 450 German war prisoners were brought to Reynolds after a detainee camp at North East had been closed. About the same time others held at Kane, Marienville and Sheffield arrived at Reynolds to await repatriation.
Some 500 more were moved out on the 25th day of November, with several hundred more awaiting their turn to depart for their homeland. The army's Center for Military History reported that the total number of prisoners based at Reynolds at the end of the conflict totaled 1,868, including 1,839 enlisted men and 29 non-commissioned officers.
Not long before the last of the prisoners departed several hundred of their number was ushered into a post theater and shown motion picture footage they probably never will forget during the balance of their lives.
This first area showing of the U.S. Signal Corps films depicting the Nazi atrocities at Adolph Hitler's death camps visibly disturbed the POWs. Unfortunately, many insisted that the horror scenes taken at Dacha and elsewhere were fakes turned out by U.S. propagandists. The German people were incapable of such atrocities, they said.
The prisoner of war camp, which had been established April 4, 1944, was discontinued Jan, 15, 1946, approximately one month after the closing of the military camp itself.
The Race Riot
The manner in which many black soldiers were treated during the early days and months of the Shenango Personnel Replacement Depot (SPRD) operation was something of a blot the War Department has never been proud of and has always been reluctant to talk about. When the SPRD was conceived during the early phase of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's military units were strictly segregated. At the local depot there were separate barracks, post exchanges, theaters and other facilities for white and black troops. Southern officers and GIs especially did not mix well with the Negroes and consequently the treatment of the blacks probably was what was considered to be about normal for that period in history. There was no civil rights movement at the time, nor were there marches or demonstrations to advance the cause of the minorities. Some excesses in the treatment of blacks during the early days of the camp were evident, however. For example, the late Joseph G. Magargee of Greenville, a civilian employee at the camp who later became a Reynolds High School teacher and something of an authority on camp history, once recalled how the first contingent of blacks were not fed at the base but were placed in leg chains and trucked to the nearby Blue Sky Inn for their meals. Magargee wrote that according to the Blue Sky owner the black troops were not permitted to enter the inn when Southern soldiers were inside. Under military guard, the blacks were served their meals outdoors on the parking lot.
Before he died a few years back Magargee also mentioned that in the camp's early days there was but a single theater for Negroes although they were permitted to occupy the back row seats in a theater for whites. The only other entertainment originally afforded the black troops consisted of card games, pick-up baseball and other diversions of their own making.
It came as no great surprise, then, that the ill feelings harbored by some blacks and whites alike eventually flared into an ugly race riot that ended up with a deadly exchange of gunfire lasting several hours.
Area newspapers and radio stations (there was no television in those days) did their level best to get a line on what transpired that mid-July day in 1943. The camp's public relations officials would say only that one black soldier had been killed and six others wounded in a racial flare-up. This was later described as a "spoon-fed" accounting of the rioting.
The Department of the Army's Center of Military History, in response to communication from this writer and Congressman Tom Ridge, supplied one version of the flare-up by providing a single page copied from Ulysses Lee's publication titled The Employment of Negro Troops. Lee wrote that not all of the violence and disorder in which Negro troops became involved resulted from racial friction or mass grievances. Much of it was purely indigenous in nature, sometimes growing out of cultural traits and patterns of behavior brought into the Army from Civilian life.
In the Camp Shenango instance an altercation between Negro and white soldiers in the post exchange area expanded until it involved a large number of troops in the exchange area. This first instance, brought under control by white and Negro military police using tear gas, was followed by another when two new prisoners, picked up for a pass violation, spread news of the earlier fracas to men in the guardhouse. Negro prisoners broke out of the guardhouse and joined by other soldiers, seized firearms and munitions from supply rooms.
Military police, again white and Negro, killed one and wounded five other soldiers in quelling the second disturbance. John W. Kerpan, now a Greenville funeral director, was a first lieutenant and second in command of the camp's military police forces at that time of the rioting. He recalls that after several white soldiers went into the 10th Street post exchange for blacks a number of the Negroes retaliated by attempting to enter the white PX on Seventh Street. The blacks met with stiff resistance. Tempers flared and the resulting melee soon got out of hand. Kerpan's recollection is that at least two Negro soldiers were killed and several others probably were wounded in the resulting gunfire which lasted from about 5 o'clock in the afternoon until long after dark. Some of the black troops disappeared under the cover of darkness but were later picked up in various communities throughout Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. The rioters were immediately sent to overseas destinations. William F. Kerfoot, Sr., now of the Vernon, OH area, was a military police sergeant who said that he had a "front row seat" during the gunfire display in which not a single military policeman was wounded.
After the rioting, Kerfoot said, he was working in the provost marshal’s office and heard that 30 to 35 black soldiers were killed that day and many more were wounded.
Studs Terkel, the Chicago author who won a general non-fiction Pulitzer prize for his The Good War, an Oral History of World War II, presented still another version of the Camp Shenango rioting after interviewing Dempsey Travis, now a Chicago realtor.
Travis was 21 and black and an Army private when he arrived at Shenango aboard a "Jim Crow train." He told Terkel that on the day of the flare-up he and a friend he knew only as "Kansas" had just emerged from a theater to find a group of blacks engaged in what he described as a "big discussion." He claimed that six bus loads of white soldiers arrived at the scene and began shooting at the blacks. "Kansas" was killed on the spot, Travis said, and he himself fell with three gunshot wounds in the hip and legs which resulted in several months of hospitalization.
While in the base hospital, Travis claimed he "saw 14 or 15 wounded blacks within a radius of 40 feet." He recalled a Red Cross worker saying that "I don't know how may died and how many were wounded."
He maintained that the hostilities were not completely quelled for 48 to 72 hours. The public may never know for certain how many Negro soldiers were killed or wounded that day in July.
At least some of the facts about this unsavory chapter of the camp's history are finally in the public realm and may help to put many rumors at rest at long last.
How Camp Reynolds was converted to its present stature as an industrial-residential community is a story that, until now, has never been fully made public. When the war ended and plans were under way for abandonment of the camp a wide variety of ideas for its post-war use sprang up. Many concerned people wanted to see the land developed rather than watch it revert to potato farms. These individuals had the foresight to realize the possibilities of Reynolds developing into a residential area and possibly an industrial complex.
The idea of developing an air express terminal was advanced by more than half a dozen Mercer County communities. The site was approved by the Pennsylvania Aeronautics Commission, but that was as far as it got and the project never got off the ground. Community leaders from Greenville and Sharon, together with other interests from throughout the county, then came up with another idea and attempted to conclude arrangements for the building of a 1,800-bed veteran’s hospital. Test borings were made but this effort also came to naught when word came from President Harry S. Truman that the Reynolds site was "unsuitable." The White House directed the Veterans Administration to proceed with plans for development of the veterans’ hospital at Deshon, near Butler.
By this time the War Assets Administration controlled the area for disposition. In 1946 Silas Moss was elected president of the Greenville Business Men's Association (GBMA) and work began in earnest to acquire Camp Reynolds, or at least a portion of it, to be developed industrially for the benefit not only of Greenville but for the entire area. With behind-the-scenes help from Congressman Carroll D. Kearns, many months of work ensued until finally, in the summer of 1947, fifty-seven acres of the camp, including the warehouse area with buildings totaling 251,164 square feet of floor space and some two miles of railroad sidings, were purchased by the GBMA.
The original price the government was asking for the 57 acres was $200,000 but the trustees managed to have the figure reduced to $40,500. Assured that they would be able to acquire the property, the association proceeded with plans for the future.
The businessmen sold the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, located in Sharon, the idea of leasing three of the warehouses. They also entered into an agreement whereby lessor would pay the first year's rent in advance and, as a result, the association could be certain of eventually having an additional $30,643 added to the $2,500 in GBMA funds on a three-year lease-purchase agreement. Without Westinghouse, the association never would have been able to do what was done.
Gamble Paid Off
One troublesome problem remained. The association could not charge Westinghouse rent for property it did not own. In order to expedite the collection of the rental from Westinghouse Electric Corporation, three members of the association, Luther Kuder, Norman Mortensen, and Jess Dart, supplied $38,000 from their own resources and $2,500 was allocated and borrowed from the GBMA's post-war fund. The total amount was paid to the War Assets Administration and after a lapse of five months the deed for the property arrived on Oct. 27, 1947. The loans were repaid without interest.
After having rented the balance of the warehouse area to three other firms on three-year lease-purchase arrangements, the trustees turned their attention to additional lands. Another problem was encountered here. William Templeton, who owned 258 acres of land in the center of the area, induced many of the former landowners to exercise their priority to re-purchase their land. Then he attempted to buy their land from them. After months of negotiations the trustees were able to purchase all of the land in the area with the exception of that owned by Mr. Templeton. Negotiations with an engineering firm for development of the site already had begun and the land belonging to the association completely surrounded Mr. Templeton's 258 acres with the exception of his property's east boundary. After several more conferences Mr. Templeton offered to sell his property. His offer was accepted and the purchase was made.
After purchasing the area the association trustees were constantly watching the sale of all the important buildings throughout the camp area and finally acquired five additional structures with floor space of over 300,000 square feet, over two miles of railroad sidings, about eight miles of paved roads, 639,000 square yards of walks, parking areas and water-bound roads. The purchase price for the land and buildings was $76,629. By the end of 1950 the association had received about $170,000 from rentals and lease-purchase agreements.
Operating expenses had to be met (repairs to rail sidings, taxes, insurance, road repairs, maintenance, etc.) but there was enough surpluses to allow the trustees to make loans to worthy under-capitalized new firms that were attracted to the area. In 1949 there were 10 new industries at Reynolds. During 1950 a total of 61 one-family homes were built and sold within the limits of the area. All homes were prefabricated in the industrial area. By that time the Reynolds community was well on its way. The following year the size of the project and the volume of transactions made it impossible for committee members to handle the project on their own. At that time they hired Robert B. Parker, Jr., a graduate engineer who had previously represented an engineering consulting firm not only in the building of Camp Reynolds but as a professional consultant to the committee. In addition to serving as managing engineer for Reynolds Development, Parker became general manager of the water company, the sewage disposal company and the Pymatuning Independent Telephone Company.
Prior to Parker's arrival operation of the development corporation was under the control of a board of trustees appointed by officers and directors of the Business Men's Association. These trustees spent considerable amounts of their own money for travel, meals, telephone bills, entertainment of prospects, etc. and were never compensated for their efforts.
Books of the Reynolds Development were kept for eight years by the First National Bank of Greenville, also without compensation.
The shining jewels in the Reynolds crown today are its three industrial parks totaling over 1,200 acres. They are the largest planned and managed industrial developments in the Tri-State area and are located in a metropolitan area of approximately 130,000 persons. Dating back to 1949, they are also one of the oldest planned industrial parks in the Northeast. The parks are owned and operated by Greenville-Reynolds Development Corporation. The original park consisted of a 430-acre portion of the one-time army training center now occupied by numerous industrial, warehouse, and service-related operations. An additional 40-acre site called the Reynolds North Industrial Park was opened in the late 1980s to meet a demand for smaller, fully developed business sites.
In the early 1990s the corporation acquired and began the development of a new 750-acre tract located east of the Shenango River. This new development, now known as Reynolds East, is designed to provide high-quality business sites, with access to rail and all utilities, in a controlled environmental setting. The United States Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration contributed $990,000 to help get the park project off the ground. The grant represented a crowning achievement to the highly productive career of Gene Smith as managing engineer for Reynolds Development. Smith assumed the role following the 1977 death of Robert B. Parker, Jr., the development's first managing engineer. Over 45 industrial, warehouse, and servicerelated operations are located at Reynolds. Reynolds industries has turned out a wide variety of products ranging from pre-fabricated homes to paper board tubes and cores used by a variety of industries to special mill work.
Still other Reynolds firms provided a wide variety of design and building services, warehouse distribution, auto repair and detailing, upholstering, miscellaneous storage, aluminum smelting, structural steel and building erection, metal recovery, hydrous ammonia distribution and technical engineering service to a 30-state area, paving contracting, auction services, telecommunication products and services, general construction, tin mill processing, retail building products, distribution of vinyl and aluminum siding, warehousing, general contracting, and warehouse operations. Also operating under the Reynolds Development umbrella are the Reynolds Water Company and the Reynolds Disposal Company. The original water company had a supply of five million gallons available daily, which was enough to supply a small city.
Only one elementary school building was located on the land selected by the government for what eventually was to become Camp Reynolds. It was known as the Rocky View School and was said to be a perfect example of the "little red schoolhouse" type. All but two of the families sending children to Rocky View resided within the confines of the camp area. In the late 1950s Reynolds High School was constructed and graduated its first class in 1961. The Reynolds school system area embraces 98 square miles. In addition to the junior-senior high building the system includes one elementary building located beside the high school.
- Camp Shenango: One Killed, 6 Hurt in Shenango Row, Pennsylvania Department, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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