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Saturday, June 30, 2012

West Virginia Amusement Parks

Camden Park Rides

There are currently only two amusement parks in West Virginia: Camden Park in Huntington and Valley Worlds of Fun in Fairmont. Camden Park has been around for 100 years and offers over 30 rides, including their newest adventure experience, the Rockin' Tug. Valley Worlds of Fun is relatively newer and smaller with attractions such as 24 Bowling Lanes, Lasertag, Arcade, Tea Cups, Bumper Cars, Inflatable Soft Play, Bumper Boats, 18 Hole Mini Golf, Climbing wall, and The Valley Free Fall. Both offer family fun for kids of all ages, but neither can compare to the size and grandeur of Rock Springs Park in its heyday.

100 years ago there were nine amusement parks across the state, from the point of the northern panhandle to the bend at Huntington. Most of these, like Rock Springs Park, were sites which first attracted Native Americans as hunting grounds. In the case of Camden Park, the Adena people built a flat-topped conical burial mound near the mouth of Twelvepole Creek, on the floodplain above the Ohio River on what is today park property. As white settlers moved west, these sacred sites became picnic groves for school functions and church outings. Soon pavilions were erected for dining, dancing and prize fights. With the introduction of electricity, trolley companies began purchasing these well-known retreats and built amusement parks at the end of their lines to attract riders on weekends. Most of the parks operating at the turn of the last century were trolley parks such as these, including our beloved Rock Springs. Two of West Virginia's early parks were Luna Parks, a name shared by dozens of others, from the Coney Island original, to the over 40 in the United States and on every continent except Antarctica starting back in 1903. The Luna Parks and most of the early trolley parks in West Virginia were destroyed by fire or closed due to the Great Depression and the public's changing taste in amusements and transportation. By 1930 only Camden and Rock Springs were still in operation. Rock Springs closed in 1970 and was removed in 1974 due to the state’s plan to widen Route 30 for a cloverleaf approach to a new bridge across the Ohio River. Camden, as mentioned above, is still providing fun and thrills for visitors and residents of the Huntington Area. Rock Springs only lives on the minds of those who knew her and a new generation interested in West Virginia history.

According to the National Amusement Park Historical Association there were nine parks in West Virginia at one time:

Camden Park – Huntington, W.VA – (1902 – Present) MAP
Glenwood Park – Charleston, W VA - (Nothing Known)
Luna Park – Charleston, W.VA – (1912-1923) [Fire destroyed park]
Mozart Park – Wheeling, W VA – (1893-1917)
Oak Park - Masontown / Morgantown - W. VA - (1908 - 1930) [Decline for coal industry & Great Depression killed park]
Rock Springs Park – Chester, W. VA – (1897-1970) [state had plans park to widen Route 30]
Terrapin Park – Parkersburg, W. VA – (1900 - 1917) [Park burned in an arson fire - Sept 1917]
West Virginia State Fairgrounds – Wheeling, W. VA - (Nothing Known)
Wheeling Park – W. VA – (1906 - 1918?) [Public's changing taste in amusements]

Friday, June 29, 2012

Rochester Businesses Close for Park Outing

Wednesday, June 29, 1927

On this day in Rock Springs Park history, Rochester, PA, businesses closed for Business Men's Association outing and annual school picnic at Rock Springs Park. The New Steamer St. Paul carried children for free and adults for 50 cents.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hoopies Travel to Rock Springs Park

Saturday, June 28, 1902

On this date in Rock Springs Park History, Hoopies traveled to Rock Springs Park. The Relief Association of the American Steel Hoop company decided to hold its annual outing at Rock Springs Park. It has been said that Hoopies coming upriver and seeing the HLC on the smokestack of Homer Laughlin China worried that it stood for “Hoopies Last Chance!”

Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/youngstown-hoopies-at-rock-springs.html.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coshocton and Vicinity Take Grand Excursion

Friday, June 27, 1902

On this day in Rock Springs Park history, the town of Coshocton and vicinity took a grand excursion for a day of fun at Rock Springs Park. The ad read, "The people who have never visited the state of West Virginia will get a view of her most beautiful, almost mountainous scenery."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bert Stock Orchestra Performs and Smithsonian Institute Inspects Carousel

Tuesday, June 26, 1928
On this date in Rock Springs Park history, The Bert Stock Orchestra performed at an evening engagement at Virginia Gardens having just completed a six week engagement at the Moonlight Ballroom, Meyers Lake Park, Canton, Ohio.
The Daily Times - June 23, 1928 - Fine Orchestra at Rock Springs
Meyers Lake Park, Canton, Ohio
Since last September there has not been a single change in personnel of Bert Stock and his orchestra of 11 artists, featured at Virginia Gardens, Rock Springs Park, Tuesday evening, June 26. During the winter this band divided their time between extended engagements at East Market Gardens, Akron; Madison Gardens, Toledo; one month in Fort Pitt hotel Pittsburg [sic]; vaudeville engagements on the Loew circuit, and numerous one night stands for private and public dances. They just completed a six weeks' engagement at the Moonlight Ballroom, Meyers Lake Park, Canton, Ohio, and on July 1st they go to Rye Beach, Huron, Ohio, to remain there through Labor Day. Just before beginning their engagement at Canton, this orchestra was requested by Columbia to their New York studio for record tests.

Wednesday, June 26, 1974

Also on this date, The Smithsonian Institute inspected the Carousel at Rock Springs Park for purchase. They chose not to buy it as they were looking for a menagerie-style with other animals besides horses and citing its rather plain rounding board. See a mural painting of the Carousel by local artist Craig Wetzel at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-of-murals-captures-days-gone-by.html.

Listen to "Turn on the Heat" played by Bert Stock Orchestra in 1929, a famous hit only a month after the crash of the stock market. Enjoy!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Last Surviving Victim of Old Mill Disaster Dies

Friday, June 25, 1915

Rock Springs Park after fire of June 5, 1915, showing Old Mill

On this day in Rock Springs Park History, the Hancock County Courier reported that Hyacinth Mackey age 16, the last surviving victim of the disaster which destroyed the Old Mill at Rock Springs Park on the evening of June 5, had died.

Hancock County Courier- Last Survivor Of Old Mill Fire Dies

Hyacinth Mackey age 16, the last surviving victim of the disaster which destroyed the Old Mill at Rock Springs park on the evening of June 5, died at 8 o'clock Sunday evening the Chester General hospital, where she has since been confined. Dr. G. W. Wentz of the hospital staff, who has been in attendance, stated that the general condition of the girl was improved but her heart failed at the last. Her burns most serious about the back, arms, neck and face. The physician stated that she was the least burned of the four victims.

The Mackey girl, in company with Eva Dales and Glenna Stout, all of Newell, went to Rock Springs park on the night of the accident. All three of the girls together with Albert Rayner, aged 12, of Chester, were the most seriously burned and all except Miss Mackey died within a few hours after the accident.

The Mackey girls condition for a time seemed greatly improved. Last Tuesday, a change for the worse was noted and since that time she has been hovering between life and death.

She is survived by her parents and the following brothers and sisters: Mrs. Pittswater and Bessie, Lee, Gladys, Geneva, Wm., Ralph, Harold, Evelyn, Frances, Margaret and Robert all at home. She was employed at the Laughlin pottery with the Dales girl who succumbed to her burns on the Sunday following the accident. She was a member of the M. E. church and also of the choir of the M. E. church of the Newell and a member of the Sunday school class taught by Miss Reardon. Funeral services were held Tuesday.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Moonlight and Rock Springs

Sunday, June 24, 1928

A Cruise to “Rock Springs Park and Moonlight” aboard the Super Steamer Washington was taken on this day in Rock Springs Park History. The day trip left Rochester at 11:30 a.m. and returned by 6:30 p.m, but there was also an evening voyage. Fare for the day was only $1.00. An advertisement for both excursions ran in The Daily Times, June 23, 1928. “Take the family on this interesting and educational trip,” the ad began. “Passing through immense government locks where you are raised and lowered twenty feet. Rock Springs Park is noted for its natural beauty, 2 cafeterias serving lunch and refreshments. Moonlight Trip leaves Rochester 8:15 p.m. and returns 11:30 p.m. Fare only 75 cents. Elders celebrate deluxe orchestra and beautiful roof garden.”

Saturday, June 23, 2012

‘Last Dance’ at Virginia Gardens Held

Sunday, June 23, 1974

On this day in Rock Springs Park History, the ‘Last Dance’ at Virginia Gardens was held. The Panhandle Press reported on June 26, 1974, “Everyone in the surrounding area has such loving memories from years gone by, ones that will never be forgotten and after last Sunday night; more than 1,000 people added that evening to the loving memories.” The proceeds benefited the Northern Hancock County Community Library, now the Lynn Murray Memorial Library in Chester.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Band Shell

The Band Shell under construction in 1940. (Courtesy of Tish Hand)
In theater, a shell (also known as an acoustical shell, choral shell or band shell) is a curved, hard surface designed to reflect sound towards an audience. Shells are most commonly used for orchestras, bands and choirs. The Rock Springs Park band shell was constructed in 1940 and was the only new building constructed during the Robert and Virginia Hand Years (1935 – 1970). It stood at the southern end of the upper park lawn facing north, directly in front of the Ladies Rest House. In 1974 the Band Shell was transported to the Chester City Park, but fell apart soon after. A cinder block amphitheater was constructed in its place.
Rear view of the Band Shell showing the brick structure. Shells are generally made of hard materials because they are designed to absorb as little sound as possible.
The Band Shell shown as it appeared in the park's final season, 1970.

The Band Shell in winter 1969 with the Ladies Rest House (right), Log House (center), and the Dodgem or "Skooter" (left). Notice the camper stored next to the Band Shell.
An outdoor theater-style band shell is the featured set piece in the video "Better Be Home Soon" by Crowded House from their 1988 album 'Temple of Low Men', and just like the Rock Springs Park shell, it comes crashing down in the end,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Talk Coincides with Official Opening of Memory Room

Monday, June 21, 2010

Joseph Comm, author of “Rock Springs Park,” signs a book for Patty Swiger at a signing event held Monday at the Chester Municipal Building. Prior to the signing, Comm talked about how his book came to be. (Photo by Nancy Tullis)
On this date two years ago, the Chester Kiwanis Club hosted an "Images of America: Rock Springs Park" book talk and signing at the old Chester High School.

Read the article at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2010/08/rock-springs-park-book-release.html .

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chester Hall of Fame and Memory Lane Room in the old Chester High School Building, now the City’s Municipal Building (2009).
On the same date, The Memory Room project in the old Chester High School officially opened,  coinciding with a slide show book talk on Rock Springs Park sponsored by the Chester Kiwanis Club.

Read more about Memory Lane at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/08/memory-lane.html.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cool Breezes and Aunt Minnie’s Jam

Monday, June 20, 1904

On this date in Rock Springs Park History, The Daily Tribune, Beaver Falls, PA reported on the inagural run of The Rock Springs Special - an evening trolley excursion during the workweek to Rock Springs Park “so that the townspeople in the Beaver Valley area could enjoy the cool, life-giving, ozone-laden breezes from the pine-clad mountains of West Virginia.” Read the full account at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/06/good-for-what-ails-you.html.

Thursday, June 20, 1940

The Daily Times exclaimed on this date in 1940: "More prizes than Aunt Minnie’s jam ever won in the good old days of the County Fair!" The folks of Rochester, PA, are on their way to Rock Springs Park for an outing of the Rochester Board of Trade. Read about the excursion and its interestung contests and unusual prizes at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/02/getting-there-was-half-fun.html.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Accidental Drowning

Thursday, June 19, 1913
On this date in Rock Springs Park History, Fred Shone, aged 20 years, drowned while swimming in the pool at Rock Springs Park. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/10/setting-record-straight-part-1.html.

Sunday, June 19, 1927

Also on this date in 1927, residents of Rochester, Pa, took a "Moonlight Excursion" on the Steamer Washington to Rock Springs.

For a round trip fare of $1.00 excursionists were carried to "Nature's Most Beautiful Park." The steamer advertised 2 cafeterias, popular prices, and 6 spacious decks. Elder's Dreamland Orchestra played on the "Beautiful Roof Garden" during this "Event of the Season."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cotton Candy or Candy Floss?

Debbie Haney spins cotton candy at Rock Springs Park 1970.
Cotton Candy is the same thing as Candy Floss. Both names are adopted from the original “fairy floss” created by two Nashville, Tennessee candy makers and popularized at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

The signs hung in Rock Springs Park’s Cotton Candy Stand show it was called both back in 1968. In the photograph, owner Bob Hand shapes a cardboard stick used to collect the floss of pure sugar in a large heated bowl. The sugary strands wound on the cardboard stick and were best served immediately. Behind Bob a hand-painted sign advertises “Candy Floss 15 Cents” and a lighted sign next to it reads “Cotton Candy”. (Click on image to enlarge and see both signs.)

Many have described the delicious aroma of the cotton candy being spun as they ascended the stairs next to the spring upon entering the park via the lower park entrance, which is why I included a package of Cotton Candy in a gift basket to be auctioned off at the “Take Me Home Country Roads 1st Annual Reunion” to be held at the Chester Municipal Building on July 7, 2012.

Serious Accident and Entertaining Acts

Wednesday, June 17, 1908

On this day in Rock Springs Park history, Miss Alice Beaulean, of Hinds Street, Rochester, met with a serious accident while attending Rock Springs Park. "She, with several friends, were enjoying a ride on the Shoot the Shoots [sic] and was thrown to the bottom of the boat in some manner the ligaments of her liver were torn loose. She was brought to Rochester last evening and conveyed to her home in a carriage, and said to be resting as easy as could be expected." See a Chutes Ride in action at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/06/ouch.html.

Sunday, June 17, 1928

On a lighter note, on this day The "Big Free Act" Fink's Comedy Circus with trained mules, ponies and dogs appeared in Rock Springs Park. "Famous Trick Mules, Wall-Scaling Police Dogs, Clowns, Ponies, Monkeys - A Real One-Ring Circus."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sabbath Schools Picnic at Park

Thursday, June 16, 1910

On this date in RSP History, the Sabbath School picnic of Baden, Conway and Freedom was held at Rock Springs.

The Daily Times - June 17, 1910 - Picnic Held by Sunday Schools at Rock Springs

The union Sabbath School picnic of Baden, Conway and Freedom, held at Rock Springs Park Thursday was a decided success, almost five hundred people were on the train when it left Rochester.

The ball game between the Married Men and the Single Men resulted in a tie score, the count being 7 to 7. It was mutually agreed that the tie be played off in a twilight game on Vicary Field (Freedom, PA, via Pine Run Road) in the near future.

The athletic events for boys and girls were postponed until some time next week when they will take place at Vicary Field.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ohio River Bridge Becomes Toll-Free

Friday, June 15, 1951

On this date, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Chester Bridge officially became toll-free.
Ceremonies Held At East Liverpool

East Liverpool, O., June 15 (Special) - The state-owned Ohio River Bridge between here and Chester, W.Va., became toll-free today.

Ohio Atty. Gen. C. William O'Neill and William Ansel Jr., West Virginia state treasurer, spoke at ceremonies marking the end of tolls on the 55-year-old span.

Operated by Commision

The Bridge has been operated by the Ohio Bridge Commission since 1938. An East Liverpool delegation, headed by Chamber of Commerce President Robert Hays, had accused the commission of deliberately holding up freeing the bridge in order to keep the commission in business.

Route 30, the Lincoln Highway crosses the structure. Many Pittsburgh residents use the bridge.

The commission announced it has some $80,000 more than necessary to pay off all obligations on the East Liverpool bridge.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chester VFD's First Annual Picnic Held at RSP

Thursday, June 14, 1928
On this date in Rock Springs Park history, the Chester Volunteer Fire Department held its first annual basket picnic and frolic at the park. The day included guest fire departments from the surrounding area, sporting events, dancing, beauty contests and a special added event "a spectacular fireworks display showing burning buildings with firemen in action.”

Frolic At Rock Springs Park

Beaver Daily Times - June 8, 1928

The volunteer fire department of Chester, W.Va., will hold their first annual basket picnic and frolic at Rock Springs Park, Thursday, June 14. Guest volunteer fire departments are expected from surrounding towns, New Cumberland, Weirton, Clinton, Imperial, Burgettstown, McDonald, Midway, Carnegie, Wellsburg, Midlway, Carnegie, Wellsville, Salinesville, Toronto district, Lisbon and many others.

There will be prizes for the oldest fire equipment, the best fire eguipment, and a prize to the company having the most members present on this day. A popularity and beauty conteset will be held, also a baseball game and sport events.

There will be dancing afternoon and evening in beautiful Virginia Gardens and a special added event will be a spectacular fireworks display showing burning buildings with firemen in action.
Chester’s first self-propelled fire engine replaced an earlier horse-drawn rig, and was built by American LaFrance. By 1916, American LaFrance produced a 6-cylinder, gas-powered pumping apparatus that performed so well it literally spelled the end of the steam engine. American LaFrance continues to produce fire equipment after nearly 200 years of service.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Freels Foundation Sells RSP Carousel Horses

Saturday, June 13, 1998

On this date in Rock Springs Park history, The Freels Foundation’s American Carousel Museum in San Francisco, a non-profit organization for the preservation of carousels, sold its rare collection of Rock Springs Park’s Daniel Muller-designed horses at auction. On its website Brass Ring Entertainment of Sun Valley California, the present owner of the Dentzel, is offering the carousel with a combination of original and reproduction horses at an estimated cost of 1.5 million dollars.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pinterest Interest

A new website called Pinterest, a self-described online pinboard, offers users the chance to "organize and share things (they) love."

What is shared under the heading "History and Vintage" are images of historical figures, newspaper headlines, antique advertisements, vintage gowns, and unusual toys and signage. Most have some heavy historical significance, including the assassination of JFK, the construction of the Statue of Liberty in Paris, and many photographs of Abraham Lincoln, ranging from his youthful beardless days to weathered and worn war portraits.

Of the 108 "pins" uploaded so far, one includes Rock Springs Park; a postcard image which also appears on the dedication page of Images of America: Rock Springs Park. It shows a wedding ceremony held in the park in 1908.
Rock Springs Park hosted an outdoor wedding in 1908. The wedding party stands on the arched bridge that once spanned the Shoot-the-Chutes ride in the upper park. In the background, park patrons take a thrilling ride on the Figure Eight coaster, while the bride and groom, dressed like two figures atop a wedding cake, exchange their vows.
The pinup from appalachianhistory.net incorrectly describes the wedding as taking place "on the roller coaster track." Closer inspection shows the coaster in the background and the soon-to-be-married couple standing on an arched bridge which spanned the Shoot-the-Chutes Ride. Still, it is nice to see the park get a nod among so many iconic images.
Here, Leap the Dips replaces the Figure Eight, but the arched bridge still spans the Chutes drop.

See the image at http://pinterest.com/pin/149533650097889191/.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Proposal

Before there was an Images of America: Rock Springs Park book, there was a proposal.

Summary of Proposed Book Content

Rock Springs Park was an amusement park located in the Ohio River Valley town of Chester, West Virginia. Native Americans originally visited the springs and surrounding glade for hunting, and it is widely believed that George Washington drank from Rock Springs on one of his trips along the Ohio River. According to A History of Chester: The Gateway to the West by Roy C. Cashdollar, the land for the park was first donated for church picnics in 1857. Rock Springs Park was developed in 1897 in conjunction with a local bridge company to increase ridership on the new street car railway. Over the years, the park grew steadily, attracting large crowds daily until it was closed in 1970 to make way for a new bridge and cloverleaf ramp.

The story of Rock Springs Park is the story told in many communities across the United States in the twentieth century. A local trolley park was created at the turn of the century as a profit-making venture for a big transit company, became a weekend destination for hard-working men and their families, sponsored school picnics and offered boating, bathing, dances, and amusements, until peaking in attendance and profits around 1927. It then began a gradual decline and, like others of its kind, disappeared completely due to the automobile and returning war veterans who saw the world and did not want to sit at home. The park represents a significant period in American history, and even though it no longer exists, Rock Springs Park somehow draws people back to their lost childhoods.

I was only six years old when the park closed and eleven when the buildings were razed and the land leveled to make way for Route 30’s approach to the Jennings Randolph Bridge. But, for me, there was something hypnotic about the ghostly sun-bleached skeleton of the Cyclone roller coaster that ran parallel to the first base line of our school playground’s ball field. It was something that drew me away from my right-fielder responsibilities, so I found myself staring though the gate at a fantasy land wondering what magical things were happening on the other side. I could see the face of a green goblin mocking me from the front doors of the spook house dark ride and daring me to climb over the fence. I could practically reach out and touch the first hill chain lift of the Cyclone, and would imagine the carousel horses trapped inside the boarded up octagonal pavilion. I wanted to toss down my baseball mitt and wander over the tree-lined hillside and drink, just once, from the famed Rock Springs.

Those are my personal memories, but the fact is that this park was a magical place not only to me but also to thousands of others who hold memories of Rock Springs Park, people who would certainly enjoy the opportunity to share those memories with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren through a book about the park.

My book will cover the history of Rock Springs Park, from its use by Native Americans through its heyday and eventual demise, with dozens of never before published photos. It will tell the story of the thirty-two year search for the park’s famed 1920s carousel, one of the last produced by the Dentzel Company, and recount for the reader the dramatic events of the sudden blaze that destroyed the Old Mill, in which “pandemonium reigned” and “scores of women fainted in the red glare of the flames.” My book will also highlight the pursuit of many from the Tri-State area who have tried to recapture the magic of Rock Springs Park. People like Dr. James Smith who left his hometown following graduation in 1944 and, influenced by his boyhood trips to Rock Springs Park, amassed one of the largest collections of penny arcade artifacts in the world. Lou Holtz, famed Notre Dame Football coach, who’s Hall of Fame Museum, houses the original carousel Wurlitzer organ from Rock Springs. And fifties teen heart throb, Bobby Vinton, who remembers the Rock Spring Park dances as “a very “romantic time with the music…almost like something in the movies.”

Please permit me to revisit Rock Springs Park and let the magic live again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Virginia Gardens Baby Grand Was a Family Heirloom

Charles Clinton (C.C.) Macdonald and wife, Grace, owners of Summit Park in Akron, Ohio, purchased Rock Springs Park in 1926. Macdonald upgraded the aging Victorian park adding the Cyclone, a small zoo, and the Virginia Gardens Ballroom. For two seasons the park saw record attendance and profits, but with the onset of the depression, Macdonald needed to diversify in order to keep Rock Springs Park going. To that end, he moved his family to Ligonier, Pennsylvania in 1931 to become partner to Richard B. Mellon and part owner of Idlewild Park.

Grace Macdonald went back and forth between Rock Springs and Idlewild for four years until turning the entire operation of Rock Springs Park over to her newly-wedded daughter, Virginia, and son-in-law, Robert L. Hand, in 1935. The Hands would spend the next thirty-five years in Rock Springs Park, raising two sons and sustaining a modest but profitable existence until the park was purchased, rides and all, by the state of West Virginia in 1974.

During their years of operation and ownership of Idlewild Park, the Macdonalds lived in this home directly across Route 30 from the park. The home still stands today.

According to Tish Hand, “The fancy living room with the baby grand piano was in Grace and CC’s mansion in Idlewild. The piano came to Virginia Gardens after Grace's death (October 24, 1964) and was there for many years before the park closed. I don't remember what became of it, but it was offered to us and we had no place for it.”

As the baby grand is not listed among items to be auctioned off in this advertisement from the Beaver County Times, June 19, 1974, perhaps it was donated to a local church or sold to a local buyer prior to the auction. Does anyone know what happened to it?

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rock Springs Park in Winter

"The Christmas Song" (commonly subtitled "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire") is a classic Christmas song written in 1944 by musician, composer, and vocalist Mel Tormé (aka The Velvet Fog), and Bob Wells. According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer, “In an effort to stay cool by thinking cool."

"I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil", Tormé recalled. "They started, 'Chestnuts roasting..., Jack Frost nipping..., Yuletide carols..., Folks dressed up like Eskimos.' Bob (Wells, co-writer) didn't think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics."

So perhaps, on this hot summer day, if we immerse ourselves in images of Rock Springs Park in winter, we can achieve the same effect.

View of Lower Park entrance in winter 1970, from the collection of Rich Brookes.  
Spring (left) and stairs in winter 1970, from the collection of Rich Brookes.
“On the Rocks” in winter 1970, from the collection of Rich Brookes.
Lower Picnic Park looking toward the lake in winter 1970, from the collection of Rich Brookes.
Rock Springs Park view of the Cyclone in winter 1946, from the collection of Sherry Emery.
Rock Springs Park view midway in winter 1946, from the collection of Sherry Emery.
Rock Springs Park view of the lower picnic park in winter 1946, from the collection of Sherry Emery.
Well, did it work? Here's my favorite version of the "The Christmas Song." Enjoy!