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Friday, July 22, 2011

Rock Springs Park During WWII

Pictured (Left) is R.Z. Macdonald and his nephew, Richard K. Hand. (Courtesy of Tish Hand.)

Rock Springs Park was closed for three years during World War II. Owner Bob Hand was drafted and served several months in the U.S. Army until it was discovered that he was too old for the draft. (See Images of America: Rock Springs Park, pp. 72-73)

A reunion note found in The Washington Observer-Reporter, Washington, PA, on August 3, 1942 gives further insight into how the war affected the park.

The 15th annual reunion of the Croft clan, which was scheduled to be held on Sunday, August 9, has been postponed for the year due to the government's call to conserve rubber and gas.

All members learning of this are asked to notify other members. The reunion was to have been held at Rock Springs Park, Chester, W. Va.

The article tells us that Rock Springs was still operating by the end of the summer 1942, but illustrates that rationing and the lack of needed supplies for operating the park would soon take their toll.

According to Billboard magazine, January 12, 1946, a news brief under the headline, “While Strolling Through the Park,” in the “Parks-Resorts-Pools” section (p57), explained that Bob had just been released from the army, and planned to reopen the park for the first time since the start of WWII. At the time the article was written, the park was already operating Virginia Gardens as a skating rink.

By July 13th of that same year, the park was open daily, excluding Mondays. 30,000 customers visited Rock Springs on July 4, 1946 even though only four rides were in operation: the Cyclone, Aerial Planes, Merry-Go-Round and Octopus. Other attractions that summer were the Penny Arcade, bingo, lead gallery, Funhouse, boating, and dancing with Eddie McGraw’s band.

The concrete swimming pool was not in operation and unfortunately would never re-open due to the shortage of supplies needed for repairs after the war.

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