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Friday, August 31, 2012

Out of Stock

Images of America: Rock Springs Park is currently out of stock and going for another printing at Arcadia. Copies are still available at Amazon (only 3 left) or by contacting me (see right) for a personalized signed copy.

Baby Show and Beauty Contest

Thursday, August 31, 1911

The Tribune Baby Show was held on this date in Rock Springs Park history. 64 prizes were given valued at $300 and over one thousand babies were shown.

Wednesday, August 31, 1927

Tri-State Beauty Contest was held at Rock Springs Park. Contestants from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania vied for the chance to win the title and $500 in prizes and gifts as well as a free trip to view the National Beauty pageant at Atlantic City. (Beaver Falls Tribune, August 23, 1927)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Children's Day

Tuesday, August 30, 1910

On this date, the first annual "Children's Day" was held at Rock Springs Park.

The Daily Times, August 19, 1910 - Children’s Day AT Rock Springs

Management Plans Great Future for Favorite Resort

The Rock Springs Park Management in the course of its busy season entertains a great number of grown people as well as children, but it is intended to devote two days to the juveniles exclusively. With this in mind, Tuesday, August 30th, has been dedicated to the younger generation and will be known as "Children's Day," to be followed on Wednesday, August 31st, with a day set aside for babies.

On August 30th, the management has arranged for a children's white dress parade, at which prizes will be distributed for the most becoming white dress, the most ridiculous costume, the oddest costume and the most patriotic costume, for all of which 20 prizes have been purchased. Additional prizes will be awarded to boys in kite flying competition, each boy being requested to make his own kite.

A cut card matching contest has also been arranged with a distribution of silver watches and bicycles to the winning boys and girls. For a complete list of prizes see the advertising announcements. Entries for various contests will be received at the Park on the day of entertainment.

The grown folks are to have their inning in the evening at the Dancing Pavilion. A prize waltz will be conducted and Ninety Dollars in gold will be awarded the winners in the shape of Fifty Dollars to the first winning couple, Twenty-five Dollars to the second winning couple, and Fifteen Dollars to the third.

For full particulars address, Children's Day Manager, Rock Springs Park, Chester, W. Va.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cadet Drum Corps and Merchants' Outing

Wednesday, August 29, 1906

On this date, the Cadet Drum Corps and Merchants' Outing was held at Rock Springs Park, according to The Beaver Times, August 24, 1906). The notice featured special train arrival and departure times and fares for children and adults.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Take the Yellow Car

Sunday, August 28, 1910

On this date in Rock Springs Park history, an advertisement for C.A. Smith's Ohio Valley Scenic Railway proclaimed that readers should “TAKE THE YELLOW CAR” for a 15-minute trip to Smith’s Ferry, PA, and the site of Native American stone carvings along the banks of the Beaver River. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/08/take-yellow-car-to-indian-rocks.html.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Turn of the Century Soap Opera

Monday, August 27, 1900

On this date, a jilted lover threw herself at the feet of her man following a dance at Rock Springs Park. Read about the century-old soap opera at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/dog-days-of-summer-spurred-soap-opera.html.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hancock County Day

Saturday, August 26, 1911

On this day in Rock Spring Park history, Hancock County Day was held. An advertisement for the event read, “And that means everybody for miles around. One of the big days.”

Friday, August 24, 2012

Only Amusement Park Between Philadelphia and Chicago

Thursday, August 25, 1983

On this date, a feature article appeared in the Weirton Daily Times entitled “The Enchantment of Rock Springs Echoes in Memories.” The article incorrectly stated that the park officially opened on May 30, 1887*, and that the scenic railroad was built in 1921**. However, it did add an interesting historical note. “At the time Rock Springs Park opened, it was the only amusement park between Philadelphia and Chicago.”

*Rock Springs Park had its official opening on Memorial Day, May 30, 1897.
**The World’s Greatest Scenic Railway, a gravity operated ride, opened on May 24, 1907.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Socialist Party Excursion

Monday, August 21, 1911

On this date in Rock Springs Park history, 10,000 attended the area’s Socialist Party excursion, which included “noted speakers”. The Socialist party did not show much electoral strength until 1910 and 1911, when its candidates won numerous state and local elections.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baby Carriage Cars Offered

Saturday, August 20, 1910

Clifford L. Comm (left) and his brother, Harry A. Comm
A Baby Contest is a featured attraction at Rock Springs Park on this date in history. In an advertisement featured in The Daily Times, Beaver, PA, free baby carriage cars were listed as available for couples planning to ride the train to the park. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/02/baby-show-at-rock-springs-park-offered.html.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Ice House

I’ve often thought in summer how great it would be if we could trap the cold air of winter, store it, and release it when needed during the sweltering hot days of July and August. The truth is that even before modern refrigeration and air conditioning, our ancestors found a way to do just that. It was called an “ice house.”

During the winter, blocks of ice were carved from frozen lakes and ponds. These were stacked and stored in sawdust and hay to be removed as needed in spring and summer, often the ice would remain frozen until the following winter. Not only would it be used in “ice boxes”, the predecessor to today’s Frigidaire, but it could be shaved or broken into smaller chunks to create cool summer drinks and desserts.

Rock Springs Park had an ice house which was at the northern end of the lake in the lower park. It was either a separate building next to the summer theater or may have been in or under it. While I’ve never seen any images of the ice house, it is most likely the building shown in this postcard to the left of the Bath House.
"In winter, the Bath House was heated and the lake was used for ice-skating. Blocks of ice were also cut from the lake and delivered by a long chute to the ice house. The ice was used to store perishable foods and to make frozen treats like ice cream and sorbet desserts." (Images, p. 39) 
Closer view of what may be the Ice House.

The Union Picnic of African American Churches Held

Thursday, August 18, 1904

On this date in history, the union picnic of African American churches in the valley was held at Rock Springs Park.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Acrobats and the Auto Club

Wednesday, August 17, 1910

On this date, "Great Thriller" Arthur C. Holden, the compact athletic acrobat, performed his sensational "Loop the Loop" act at Rock Springs Park. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/08/daredevil-holden-appeared-at-rock.html.

Friday, August 17, 1928

The first free basket picnic of the Syria Temple Automible Club was held at Rock Springs Park. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/08/directional-arrows.html.

A caravan left Pittsburgh and proceed through Coraopolis, Carnot Sheffield, Monaca, Rochester, Beaver to East Liverpool and then to Rock Springs Park. Syria auto arrow signs were posted along the route.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Great Collector and The Six Flying Banyards

Tuesday, August 15, 1911

Beginning on this date, The Six Flying Banyards, a world renowned acrobat troupe, performed high above the crowd assembled on the main walk and steps of the carousel waiting platform at 3 and 10 p.m. daily in Rock Springs Park. See a photograph at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/02/well-known-circus-acts-performed-at.html.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dr. James W. Smith Jr. (pictured above), a noted surgeon who recreated a forbidden childhood paradise by amassing one of the finest collections of antique penny arcade games in the country, including many from his childhood favorite, Rock Springs Park, died on this date in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was 79 and had for many years made his home in Greenwich, less than a mile down the road from the barn that housed his whirring, blinking, clinking Eden.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rock Springs Park Slide Show Book Talk

It’s official!

Event: Rock Springs Park Slide Show Book Talk

Where: West Virginia Archives and History, 1900 Kanawha Blvd., East, Charleston, West Virginia

When: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:00pm.

Description: A Slide show book talk on Rock Springs Park as part of the West Virginia State Archives & History Lecture Series. It will be held in the Culture Center at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crisis Picnic

Tuesday, August 13, 1901

Under its nameplate of The Crisis was the declaration "Democratic In All Things -- Neutral In Nothing."
(Image from the East Liverpool Historical Society website.)
On this date, The East Liverpool Crisis newspaper holds its annual picnic at Rock Springs Park and enjoys brandies and sodas in the morning. Read more and get the recipe at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/sandwich-stein-and-stogy.html.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

C.C. Macdonald's Park

“Charles (C.C.) Macdonald and wife, Grace, owners of Summit Park in Akron, Ohio, purchased Rock Springs Park in 1926. Macdonald pledged, according to Susan Weaver in a 1985 edition of Goldenseal Magazine, “to bring the park back in popularity and in improvements to the days when it was a popular playground and outing spot in West Virginia.” Part of Macdonald’s plan to modernize the park included replacing the scenic railway with a $25,000 state-of-the-art wooden roller coaster, adding a small zoo, and upgrading the dance pavilion, which he christened “Virginia Gardens” in honor of his eighteen-year old daughter. For two seasons the park saw record attendance and profits leading former owner C.A. Smith to comment that the crowds were the largest he had ever seen within the gates of the park.”

The quote above is taken from the text of Images of America: Rock Springs Park. It was ironic to me that although C.C. Macdonald’s Rock Springs Park is the one older folks remembered in my youth and the one during which crowds were the largest, it was also the era with the fewest photographs. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that his years were cut short by the Great Depression. It is only now that pictures are resurfacing which show the 1920s’ park packed with patrons. Above shows the Cylone waiting platform and below the crowded Aeroplane queue (Courtesy of Debra Urie Lugano).

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dezill Women's Club Motors to Park

Saturday, August 11, 1928

On this date in history, the Dezill Women's Club held a picnic at Rock Springs Park.

The Daily Times reported on August 14, 1928, that about twenty-five members attended the Dezill Club picnic at Rock Springs Park Saturday afternoon and evening. Games, races, swimming, etc. were enjoyed. A picnic dinner was served at 6 o'clock. Husbands of members were guests. In races, prizes were awarded to William L. Allen, Beaver Falls, and Edna Chareberg, Wilkinsburg, who was a special guest. The trip was made by motor.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Do Feed The Animals

“Don’t feed the animals” is a relatively new term which originated in zoos when they evolved from purely recreational facilities to more educational and research based ones in the 1970s. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, zoos did not benefit the needs of the animal, but rather those of the visitor. Animals were kept in small cages with no resemblance to their natural habitat. In 1973, our third grade class visited the Pittsburgh Zoo in Highland Park, and even at that time, it was still basically a Victorian exhibition-style zoo with small cages and concrete floors. Rock Springs Park had a small zoo at the start of the Macdonald Era in 1927. One of the key features was “Monkey Island” with its “Monkey Hotel.” I had only ever seen a distant shot of this feature in postcards and photographs (see above), but this close-up recently became available.

This sign is blurry, but a close analysis shows it to read, “Do Feed the Animals.” Here is a recreation of the sign and its exact wording:

Several Interesting Events Occurred On This Day

Sunday, August 10, 1902

The Youngstown Vindicator reports that a couple eloped following a meeting at Rock Springs Park and were married "over the wire" in Lisbon, Ohio. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/couple-elope-from-rock-springs.html.

Sunday, August 10, 1930

Sunday Excursion by Boat and Train from Greensburg, PA, was taken from Greensburg, PA to Rock Springs Park. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/08/river-excursions-past-and-present.html.

Monday, August 10, 1959

Major Tom Thumb “The Hercules of the Midget Wrestlers” appears at Rock Springs Park. Read the details at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/missing-thumbs.html.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Picnic Postponed Due to WWII

Monday, August 9, 1942

On this date in Rock Springs Park History, the 15th annual reunion of the Croft Family was postponed for the year due to the government's call to conserve rubber and gas during World War II. Read about the park during the war years at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/rock-springs-park-during-wwii.html.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lee Barrett and His Rippling Rhythm Orchestra Play

Sunday, August 8, 1937

On this date in history, Lee Barrett and his Rippling Rhythm orchestra played a return engagement in the Virginia Gardens Ballroom at Rock Springs Park. Featured with the orchestra were Ray Williams and Charlie Como, cousin of the famous Perry Como. The management stated, “Lee Barrett's band is regarded as the most popular band to appear in the park ballroom this season.” See more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/bubbles-and-pop.html.

Monday, August 6, 2012

First Post-War Tri-State Community Picnic Held

Wednesday, August 6, 1947

The First Post-War Tri-State Community Picnic was held on this date in Rock Springs Park history. The celebration was sponsored by The East Liverpool Junior Chamber of Commerce and included a treasure hunt and penny scramble for the kids, Tom Brenneman’s “Breakfast in Hollywood” show, and a quiz program featuring East Liverpool trivia. See more of the program at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/06/first-post-war-tri-state-community.html.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dick Bowker Postcard

Friend, Dick Bowker, was a huge collector of postcards, but he also made a handful of his own, not too flashy, black and white images surrounded by a white border. Some of these cards were printed for the Three Rivers Postcard Club—for Pittsburgh deltiologists—but most were for friends. This is one he made of his favorite local amusement park. It shows the Carousel and Figure Eight Coaster at Rock Springs Park along with a brief history.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Motto Too

Amusement Parks are often advertised with a catchy slogan to define them and attract potential fun-seekers. Many are familiar, for instance, with Kennywood Park’s designation as “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” Rock Springs Park, too, had a view such monikers over the years.

Here are three:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Peek at the Lincoln Highway?

On the back cover of Images of America: Rock Springs Park I wrote, “Once described as “a place where god and man went fifty-fifty to produce perfection,” Rock Springs Park was an amusement park located along the Lincoln Highway in Chester, West Virginia.” The Lincoln Highway or Route 30 also ran past Idlewild Park, in Ligonier. Both Idlewild and Rock Springs were once owned by C.C. Macdonald.

The photograph above shows the Ligonier home of C.C. Macdonald. The home still stands today across Route 30 from Idlewild's present exit gate. I was wondering if the white posts, left of the house in this photograph, might be an early guardrail system for the Lincoln Highway prior to its widening along this stretch. The jury is still out, but when one looks at the evidence it seems fairly certain. (Courtesy of Tish Hand)

Takes a look at a close-up view of the posts in question and one can see lines of wire or cable strung between them.

These two postcard views of the LH in Pennsylvania, in the area of Idlewild Park, show the same type of guardrail.

So, what do you guys think? Is it or isn’t it?