All of us, if given the opportunity, would like some version of immortality. Some people have many children, write books, create works of art, or pursue any number of other activities meant to leave behind a legacy that creates some sort of meaning in our lives.
This tree (left), photographed in Rock Springs Park in the late 1800s, is covered with carved initials of visitors past.(Courtesy of Richard Bowker)
Over the centuries, some folks were content with carving their names on cave walls, rocks, and trees. Marks like these were evident in Rock Springs Park before it became an amusement park and during its heyday. It was only when the park was completely erased in 1974 that these initials, names, and pictoglyphs were lost forever. Fortunately, one man saw their importance and recorded them for posterity.
Park photographer, Clarence O. Durbin, understood that Rock Springs Park was not "immortal". He either knew or sensed that the park was in its final years and began making a photographic record in 1968. His images include panoramic views taken from across the Ohio River, detailed images of rides and buildings, candid and posed pictures of workers and patrons, and colorful close-ups of what drew people to the ancient spring grove in the first place, its natural beauty.
George Gardner left his mark (Above) on a lichen-covered rock near the spring on July 14, 1878. (See Images of America: Rock Springs Park p. 99 for more details.)
By the way, I am not recommending that anyone carve his or her name on a public park tree or rock face today. In fact in most places it is a Class 2 Misdemeanor punishable by a hefty fine. Instead check out “Treemail”. It’s an app that lets you “carve” custom messages on a virtual tree and then send them to people via email, Twitter or Facebook. "The Sweetheart Tree" performed by Natalie Wood.