The Rock Springs Park Scenic Railway opened May 24, 1907. It was built at a cost of $35,000 according to Roy C. Cashdollar’s A History of Chester: The Gateway To The West. It was also reported that a section of the scenic railway was blown down shortly after its completion by a great wind storm and had to be rebuilt at a cost of $4000. The toll for this accident only hurt C.A. Smith’ pocketbook, but other injuries and six deaths, including the tragic fire at the Old Mill, plagued his early years at Rock Springs Park.
Although he doesn’t give a full accounting, Roy C. Cashdollar stated that there was a record of six deaths during the existence of Rock Springs Park. “There were four in the old mill, one on the swings, and one on the Cyclone.” He also mentioned “two drownings and several near drownings in the park pool.”
Jun 19, 1913 – Fred Schoen, aged 20 years, was drowned while swimming in the pool at Rock Springs Park. Schoen ventured into the deep section of the pool and when last seen was sitting on the sidewalk. Apparently his body had been submerged at least 15 minutes before he was discovered missing.
The Hudson Independent of Hudson, Ohio, reported on July 2, 1914, that a girl accidentally dropped 15 feet through a hole in the Rock Springs Park baseball grandstand. “Hazel, five, daughter of Thomas Martin, suffered two broken ribs, face lacerations and probably internal injuries.”
June 5, 1915 – Four children die as the result of injuries sustained in Old Mill Fire: Albert Rayner, aged 12, of Chester died late Saturday night, as the result of burns, Eva Dales, aged 14, of Newell, died at 11:15 Sunday night, as the result of burns and shock, Miss Glenna Stout, aged 17, of Newell died early Sunday morning as the result of burns. Hyacinth Mackey, aged 16, of Newell, burned about the face, head and arms died two weeks later.
This news brief appeared in The Baltimore Sun, June 06, 1915. A full accounting of the Old Mill fire including the scene of the aftermath is available in Images of America: Rock Springs Park (see pp. 29-30).
In 1916, the second balcony of the bath house collapsed while spectators gathered at one corner to watch a drowning woman being rescued from the pool. Fire destroyed the bath house, ice house and Summer Theater in 1917 and two dance pavilions were destroyed by fire during the Smith Years. Today most amusement park accidents are required to be reported to regulatory authorities. They usually fall into one of the following categories:
*Caused by negligence on the part of the guest. This can be refusal to follow specific ride safety instructions, or deliberate intent to break park rules.
*The result of a guest's known or unknown health issues.
*Negligence on the part of the park, either by ride operator or maintenance.
*Act of God or a generic accident (eg slipping and falling), that is not a direct result of an action on anybody's part.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: There were more than 15,000 amusement ride-related injuries in 2005 in the U.S.