About Me

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Don't Miss Out!

Rock Springs Park is currently part of a special offer by Arcadia to celebrate the availability of their “Images of America” series on eReaders. A special $2.99 price promotion is being offered now until midnight Tuesday October 1st, 2012.

Johnny Appleseed's Birthday

I missed an entry this week and was reminded by my first grade daughter, when she brought home a map showing the travels of Johnny Appleseed, that Wednesday was his birthday.  John "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, on Monday, September 26, 1774.

According to John Chaney in his 1965 book, The Old Stone House, Chapman very likely passed through Rock Springs Farm on his way to Ohio. His name is carved into a wooden border in the kitchen of the nearly 200-year old stone home familiar to area residents. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/09/old-stone-house-part-iii.html.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Talk at the Orchards

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On this date, Joe Comm gives a book talk at the Orchards at Foxcrest’s Harvest Festival and breaks the number one rule of "showbiz" - NEVER FOLLOW AN ANIMAL ACT! Read all about it at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/10/number-one-rule-of-showbiz.html.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Historical Marker Respotted

Monday, September 22, 1980

On this date, the historical marker honoring Rock Springs Park was respotted from Route 30 to the inbound turn of the Jennings Randolph Bridge off-ramp. Do you know how many times it has been moved? Read http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/06/historical-marker-moved-three-times.html.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Annual Tri-State Exposition and Live Stock Show Kicks Off

Tuesday, September 20, 1910

On this date in history, the Third Annual Tri-State Exposition and Live Stock Show kicked off at Rock Springs Park. An advertisement for the event which appeared on September 10, 1910 in the Daily Times of Beaver, PA, boasted "$5,000 in premiums and $2,000 in prizes, including four Smith & Phillips pianos." Every purchaser of a ticket at the gate was given a number.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rochester Excursion Threatened

For two days in August 1936 headlines in the Daily Times of Beaver, PA, warned of the possibility that the annual Rochester Businessmen's picnic to Rock Springs Park might be cancelled due to the steamship on which the group was to travel being severely damaged in an accident just hours before the event. The large bold print declaring “Ride Cancelled” was very upsetting to area residents as their picnic was the highlight of the year. All Businesses in fact planned to close and the whole town was scheduled to attend.

According to the paper, “Officers of the Rochester Businessmen's Association anxiously awaited the outcome of an inspection of the Ohio River excursion steamer Washington to determine whether or not the craft will be available for the annual Rochester community boat ride and outing scheduled for Wednesday, August 19.” The boat was severely damaged when it crashed into the lower lock gate at U.S. Lock No. 8 near Newell, WV. Her hold began filling up with water and all 650 passengers were immediately evacuated. The Captain explained that he was returning the excursionists to Wheeling after their day at Rock Springs Park. A special train was dispatched from the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pittsburgh to carry them home that evening.

The inspection of the steamer Washington found that a pin had sheared off the ship's reversing gear as she was passing through the lock. It was expected that she would be repaired at Neville Island in time for participation in the celebration of the Montgomery Island Dam to be held on August 29, but not in time for the Rochester Picnic. The businessmen quickly set to work making other arrangements for transportation to Rock Springs. The outing would continue as planned but excursionists would have to rely on private automobiles and buses.

“Lower valley children and adults who for weeks have been looking forward to the annual outing will not be denied the picnic pleasures despite the accident that has prevented use of the Steamer Washington in transporting the picnickers to Rock Springs Park," The Daily Times reported on August 18. "Carefully laid plans for the picnic dashed almost on the very eve of the affair. Oliver Kunsman, chairman, announced that the picnic would be held as scheduled with the complete program to take place. The exodus of Rochester and the lower valley residents will start early in the morning and continue until mid-afternoon. The merrymakers with their well filled baskets will travel either by bus or by private automobiles. Buses to the park will operate on regular schedules between Beaver and East Liverpool where the picnickers may transfer to Chester-bound streetcars. The picnic committee also announced that all persons who had purchased boat ride tickets may obtain refunds."

650 Million Brings Instant History

I was just alerted to the fact that the 1927 Dentzel Carousel from Rock Springs Park is for sale for $650.000. It had been for sale on-line by the Brass Ring Entertainment Company of Burbank, CA, but as far as I know this is the first time it has appeared on eBay. The description includes many interesting facts and features.

This is the whole Dentzel carousel from Rock Springs Park in Chester, WV. It measures 50 feet in diameter with 48 replacement animals. The trim is still all in original paint. It is a deluxe machine with a full ceiling kit from the factory (a very rare upgrade from the Dentzel factory). The only other deluxe original paint Dentzel machine is Glen Echo Park in Maryland owned by the Federal Government. This machine is the only one in private hands and was the last carousel ever made by the Dentzel carousel company in 1927. It has only operated in one place its whole life and has been in storage since the 70's. The picture of the whole machine was taken just prior to its removal. The original animals were sold off in the 90's. We are offering the machine with a complete set of new Dentzel horses and menagerie pieces. Being sold in “as is” condition as removed from the park and the animals needing paint. This is a true piece of American history on a budget. This machine in complete with the original animals fully restored would be in the 3 to 4 million dollar range. Even with replacement animals restored this is still a 2 million dollar machine when finished. We can provide a full restoration if needed. You can see our work at carousel.com we have been performing museum restorations on carousels for over 30 years. Most of the replacement animals are pieces made from the famous Dentzel Lagoon carousel from Knotts Berry Farm. The pieces were made from molds taken from the original animals. Some of the finest animals ever made by the Dentzel company. This machine brings instant history to any location it goes.

Smith Collection Sold

Friday and Saturday, September 16-17, 1994

On this date, Sotheby's auctioned James W. Smith’s collection of antique penny-arcade games. It sold in New York for more than $3.3 million. Smith would donate his Carousel Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ from Rock Springs Park to the East Liverpool Alumni Association. See it at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/06/carousel-wurlitzer-153-band-organ.html.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kindle Edition Coming Soon!

Images of America: Rock Springs Park the Kindle Edition will become available on September 18, 2012. The Kindle price will be $9.99 and includes free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet. Amazon warns that due to it's large file size, the book may take longer to download; a good sign the images will be large and clear.

Merry-Go-Round Concessions

Photographs, taken by Clarence Durbin in the waning years of Rock Springs Park (1968-1970), show concession stands along the midway near the Merry-Go-Round. Many today recall the cotton candy stand at the top of the staircase which led past the spring and the lower picnic park and the lunch stand next to the octagonal carousel pavilion. However, the photograph below, part of a series belonging to Sayre W. Graham and illustrating the many structures built by The Finley Brothers Construction Company, reveals for the first time that during C.C. Macdonald’s time as owner of the park, concession stands were constructed as part of the carousel’s waiting platform. An ice cream stand (right) and a popcorn stand (left) border the entrance and share the red and green striped roof in 1928.
(Courtesy of Sayre Graham, Jr.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Idlewild Park: Number 1 for Kids

Monday, September 13, 2010

On this date, Rock Springs’ sister park, Idlewild Park, in Ligonier, PA, was ranked number one for kids. Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2010/10/idlewild-park-named-1-kids-park.html.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

First Annual Tri-State Fair

Tuesday, September 12, 1911

On this date, the first annual Tri-State Fair began at Rock Springs Park. An ad from the time exclaimed, "Big sensation promised."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Letter to Bob Hand

Friday, September 11, 1970

On this date, Rock Springs Park Carousel fan, Dick Bowker, pens a letter to park owner Bob Hand thanking him for allowing himself and a few friends to tape-record their favorite march rolls on the park’s 153 Wurlitzer Band Organ. Mr. Hand passed away a month later in October from complications following a heart attack. Read Dick's letter at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/06/dick-bowker-letter.html.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gambling in the Park

Alert reader George Allison sent me this news brief from the East Liverpool Evening Review. It appeared on page 10 of the East Liverpool, OH, newspaper on Monday, October 4, 1915. George noted, “Came upon this in my files… Gambling in the park.”

Headline: Raid Poker Game

Four young men were arrested at Rock Springs park yesterday by Chief of Police Householder and Constable Allison on a charge of gambling. The quartet were apprehended during a poker game. They were given a hearing in the court of Justice A. G. Allison and were released upon the payment of costs in the case.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Historic Marker Negotiations Begin

Friday, September 8, 1978

On this date in Rock Springs Park history, Roy C. Cashdollar began a 3-year negotiation with West Virginia Congressman Robert Mollohan to have a historic marker forged to mark the site of the one-time Panhandle Playground. It has only one flaw. Do you know what it is? Find out at

Friday, September 7, 2012

Last Day of Operations

Thursday, September 7, 1905

The Richland Shield and Banner reports on “A merger of local street railway and electric lighting interests of this portion of the Ohio valley is in process of formation. The properties to be taken over are the East Liverpool railway, now operating in this city (Wellsville) and East Liverpool, and its two branches, the East Liverpool and Rock Springs street railway, running from East Liverpool to Chester, W. Va.; the electric lighting plants and power houses of the United Power company in East Liverpool and Chester and Rock Springs park, a large and valuable pleasure resort at Chester. Several million dollars are involved.” Read more at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/trolley-merger.html.

Monday, September 7, 1970

This date was the last day of operation for Rock Springs Amusement. One final ride was taken on the Cyclone this Labor Day evening as the myriad of park lights were forever extinguished.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Alvin T. Babb

Sunday, September 6, 1998

Alvin T. Babb, 90, died in Presbyterian Hospital, Pittsburgh. Babb established the Royal Rogues of Rhythm who were regularly featured in the Virginia Gardens Ballroom in Rock Springs Park prior to World War II.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Unique Race and a Daredevil

Saturday, September 5, 1908

A "Champion Fat Men Race" race is run as part of a unique sporting program sponsored by the Pittsburg [sic] Commandery, No. 1, Knights Templar. Read the article at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/07/champion-fat-men-race.html.

Monday, September 5, 1910

Daredevil Arthur C. Holden performs high wire and high diving stunts to hundreds of gaping on-lookers at the park. Seethe article and postcard image at http://rockspringspark.blogspot.com/2011/08/daredevil-holden-appeared-at-rock.html.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

BBQ and Ox Roast

Monday, September 4, 1911

On this day in Rock Springs Park history, a Labor Day “big free barbecue and old time ox roast” was held. As always, there was no admission charged to the park but the event offered “lots of new features.”

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Coming Soon to Nook!

I just heard from a friend that Images of America: Rock Springs Park is now available for download on Barnes and Noble’s Nook. According to their website, it won’t be available until September 4, 2012, but perhaps some are able to preview it early. Of course it has been available for download on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iBooks since last March. Look out Kindle, here we come!

Laboring on Labor Day

I spent the day yesterday picnicking and boating with my family at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.

After a quick two and half hour drive from Greensburg, PA, we found ourselves back in “vacationland” with its roadside produce stands, ads for steamed blue grabs and bathers taking one last opportunity to frolic in the sun even as certain trees took on the reds, oranges and yellows of fall.

Watching a family prepare to go boating and another stringing a hammock between to tree trunks, I began to think about the approaching Labor Day Holiday and to ask myself, “When did industrial workers first see more leisure time than their predecessors?”

It turns out that during the period from 1894 to 1915 workers in the United States began to see decrease working hours and Saturday half-day holidays, giving them more free time for leisure activities. Vacations began to be regularly offered to workers, although they were usually unpaid ones. According to America at Leisure, “The monotony of specialized industrial work and the crowding of urban expansion also created a desire in the worker to have leisure time away from his or her job and away from the bustle of the city.”

People responded to this increased allowance of free time by attending a variety of leisure activities both within and away from the city. New resorts like Rock Springs Park quickly spread across the country. These amusement parks offered rides, fun houses, scenes from foreign life, and the latest technological breakthroughs, such as motion pictures.

One other factor which led to this boom in leisure time activities at the end of the 18th and early 19th century was the development of the light bulb. “The installation of electric lighting in the city streets, which made nighttime leisure activities less dangerous for both sexes.” And for all its critics today on conservative talk radio, it was actually the Progressive Movement which was another factor contributing to the increased value of leisure time for workers, as their health and well-being received more attention.

So, when you’re passing the mustard and the plate of sliced watermelon tomorrow, remember the workers of this nation who literally paved the way for your modern lifestyle. Without them, many of us would still be laboring on Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Central Trades Assembly

Wednesday, September 1, 1909

On this date in Rock Springs Park history, the Central Trades Assembly Picnic of Washington, Pa., held it's Labor Day picnic.

The Washington, Pa., Central Trades Assembly decided at its regular meeting last night not to hold any celebration in Washington this year on Labor Day, Monday, September 6, but instead to hold a picnic at Rock Springs Park, Chester, W. Va., on Wednesday, September 1.

The round trip rate from Washington and Canonsburg will be $1.25 for adults, and 65 cents for children. Trains leave Washington at 7:05, 7:35 and 8:15 a.m. Returning, will leave the park at 6:00, 7:30 and 8:00 pm.

Tickets will be on sale next Monday, the 23rd., at the Union Labor Journal office, 202 Brown building, opposite the court house; from the committee men, Frank M. King, chairman; Josepa Marble, Thomas Holmes and William C. Black.

There is something new every year at Rock Springs, and as there has been no picnic from Washington to this park in two years, a large crowd is expected from both this place and from Waynesburg and Canonsburg.

The speakers for the picnic will be William Green, of Columbus, Ohio; Charles E. Lawyer, of Wheeling, W.Va., and Van Bittner, of Piitsburg [sic]. (The Washington Reporter, August 19, 1909.)

Special rates from Waynesburg and surrounding points will be announced later.