Located on 27 woodland acres in Etna, Maine the Camp Etna camp meetings are recorded to have begun in 1876 and Spiritualists came every summer to camp out in their tents to hear the top mediums and inspirational speakers of the day. The campers eventually built platforms on which to place their tents and then built cottages on top of their platforms and the community was born.
On September 1, 1899, The First Maine Spiritualist State Camp Meeting Association was incorporated in the State of Maine, Penobscot County. On September 5, 1919, we changed our name to the Etna Spiritualist Association and it remains our name today.
At its peak in the early 1900’s there were 130 cottages that formed the vibrant summer community. People came from Boston, Hartford, Providence, and New York by train and got off at a stop at the camp next to Etna Pond. Mainers came far and wide by horse, carriage and on foot. Visitors numbered over 3000 for the camp meetings, an antiquated term used for religious gatherings.
The camp played a pivotal role in the study and promotion of physical phenomenon and spirit communication in the early years of Spiritualism. In addition, the camp was involved with women’s rights, and camp members were active in the political issues of the day. Over its long history, the camp has continued its strong support of students engaged in developing their mediumship and healing abilities.
Camp Etna has hosted many local and national notables from Harrison D. Barrett (first Pres. of the National Spiritualist Association), to Maragaret Chase Smith, Mary S. Vanderbilt and C. Harrison Engel. In 1911, the 48th Governor of Maine, F.W. Plaisted, proclaimed an official Governor's Day at Camp Etna.
A fire in 1922 destroyed over half of the camp buildings and the temple. Mary Drake Jenne (Camp Etna's secretary for more than 40 years) and in her writing 3 days after the fire she documented the following, "On April 5, 1922 the temple, the store, the boarding house and 83 cottages east of Pond Street were destroyed by fire. 48 cottages and 7 other buildings were saved. When the fire was out, Mr. Packard stood atop a picnic table and declared fervently the summer season would go on as planned."
A new temple erected in its place collapsed several decades later due to heavy snow load on the roof. The third temple named the Gladys LaLiberté Memorial Temple stands today.
The camp hotel was destroyed by fire on January 13, 1968. At the time it was being used for boarding and furniture storage.
Today about 50 cottages make up the campground.
News clipping from 1889 about camp
This information was kindly provided to the camp by Barbara Larsen.
What They Will Do
At Etna’s Camp meeting - Program & Speakers
Etna Aug. 18th - The 13th annual meeting of the F. Me. S. Spiritual Camp meeting Association will hold its annual meeting at Buswell’s grove, beginning Aug. 29th, and continuing ten days.
The grove is seventeen miles west from Bangor on the M. C. R.R. and a large platform has been erected by the R.R. company at the foot of the grounds, a distance of fifty rods only, and all local trains will stop there to leave passengers and baggage, making it very convenient. A team will be there to carry all who wish to right also baggage to the camp.
Half fare tickets will be sold on the line of the M.C. R.R. and B. & P. R.R.
The following speakers are engaged: Dr. E. B. Storer, the well known lecturer will be present the whole time. Mr. Oscar A. Edgerly, of Newbaryport, Mass., will also be present the entire meeting. He is a fine lecturer and also gives tests. Mrs. Kate R. Eclies (SP?), inspirational speaker and platform test medium is to be here the last seven days. She comes highly recommended.
The following will also be present: Rev. Frank E. Healey, of Ellsworth, Miss. Abate (sp?) Morse, of Searemont, Me., Miss May Packard and many others.
A cordial invitation is extended to all mediums in or out of the state to attend. Good music will be provided during the meeting. Mrs. Hopkins and Mrs. Butterfield to act as organist. B. D. Newcomb is to preside. Tent lots and cottages can be obtained by writing to Daniel Buswell. Mr. L. T. Waterman, of Dexter is to collect the rental for the same.
There is a good boarding house on the grounds, run by Samuel D. Buswell of South Stetson, where good board and lodging can be obtained at reasonable rates. Mr. Buswell has run the boarding house for several years past, in a satisfactory manner and will still continue to try and please his patrons.
Mr. Daniel Buswell, proprietor of the grounds will also take boarders at his home near the grounds, as usual, and Echo Farm, Capt. Welcome, proprietor, will accommodate all who wish to patronize it. There will be a meat cart on the grounds every day to accommodate (can‘t read some of this). A barber shop, photograph saloon, ice cream rooms will supply the needs of the people.
Camp Etna A spiritual summer camp run by the Etna Spiritualist Association
Etna Spiritualist Association 77 Stage Rd. Etna, Maine 04434 (207) 269-2094
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