After serving time in World War I, Daytonian Null Hodapp had a successful career
as a judge. Null purchased nearly 400 acres of wooded land along Germantown Pike
and named the property Argonne Forest Park in honor of the Unit he served in during
the war. Development of the park began with the construction of a veterans clubhouse.
Behind the clubhouse, to the south, was a carnival-like midway.
Development of the clubhouse area was followed by other additions. These included
a swimming hole and diving platform, baseball diamond, shooting range, dance hall,
pony and horse tracks, and a figure-eight auto race track.
The park also offered horseback riding, boating, fishing, and small overnight cabins.
Null brought in several old street cars from the Oakwood-Dayton lines and used them
for kids to play in and as camping cabins. He staged the "The Battle of Argonne
Forest" every Fourth of July throughout the 1930's, including impressive fireworks
It was not until World War II and gas rationing that crowds began to dwindle and
the demise of Argonne Forest Park soon followed. After Hodapp’s death in 1945, some
small parcels of land were sold, however, most of the land, some 300 acres, became
part of Possum Creek MetroPark.
A part of the area today, still called Argonne Forest, is located in the northwest
portion of the park. Dominated by tall beech trees, it is not unusual to hear the
hoot of a great horned owl or see deer while walking the trails here. The close
observer can still find hints of the original park. A low L-shaped wall, once part
of the swimming pool, can still be seen and remains of three street cars are hidden
on the forest floor. A large cement square, which may have been part of the dance
floor, also remains. Most of the figure-eight auto track is now under a lake built
by the Park District in 1979, but a hiking trail still follows portions of the old
track. The building that was once the veterans clubhouse still stands on the southeast
corner of Germantown Pike and Frytown Road. Behind it, some of the buildings that
were part of the carnival midway remain.