West Virginia May 27, 2021
Gone But Not Forgotten, Rock Springs In West Virginia Holds Over 200 Years Of Memories
Along the Ohio River at the northern tip of West Virginia lies the small town of Chester, which for one era of history boasted one of the finest amusement parks in the region: Rock Springs Park.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
Gone today, buried beneath the course of a major US highway, Rock Springs Park was once a bustling venue that attracted as many as 20,000 people daily to enjoy its rides and entertainment.
Years before that, the spot had been enjoyed as a restful country getaway. And earliest of all, the area's mineral springs had been treasured by American Indians and pioneers alike.
In 1770, George Washington himself stopped to drink from the natural spring flowing out of a solid rock face, a spot well known to travelers through the region.
Later, as the town of East Liverpool, Ohio across the river became a center of the pottery industry, Rock Springs became a retreat for church groups, family outings, and worker events.
Described as a cool and restful break from the heat and grime of the city, the wooded park continued to grow in popularity, and with it soon came commercial development. A ferry across the Ohio River to the park started regularly operating; within a few years, the park boasted a diner, sports fields, and a dance floor. But this was small compared to what was to come.
By the 1890s, a few entrepreneurial men had developed plans to transform the area into a full fledged amusement park. Over the next several years, their plans became reality.
By its opening in 1897, Rock Springs Park had its own bridge across the Ohio and a trolley system to shuttle customers across the bridge.
As its popularity grew, its offerings continued to expand: swimming pools, gardens, roller coasters, fountains, an amphitheater, a man-made lake, boat rides, and live music from the biggest musicians of the day. Each expansion met with success, attracting summer pleasure seekers from as far away as Pittsburgh and Wheeling.
During the early 1900s the park employed as many as 350 workers.
Over the following decades, though its growth slowed, the park continued to be a profitable venture. However, in 1970, the last owner died, and the park closed never to re-open.
For a few years, the abandoned buildings and equipment were left in place; but shortly thereafter plans were made to re-route US 30 across a new bridge, which would take the highway through the middle of the old park.
In 1974, a last community dance was held in the old dance hall, attracting over a thousand people to relive the park's glory days one final night.
Within a few more years, the entire landscape was changed by the construction of the highway and new bridge. Today, only a few landmarks remain from the old park - a couple of old buildings and a historical marker.
The splendor of Rock Springs Park now lives on only in old photographs and in the distant memories of those who experienced it decades ago.
Are you one with childhood memories of Rock Springs Park? Do you ever take US 30 through Chester? For more glimpses of what Rock Springs Park looked like back in the day, check out this Youtube video put together by user ReelNostalgia:
Sadly, Rock Springs Park isn’t the only significant historic site to have vanished from sight in West Virginia. Another is
Fort Pearsall, a French and Indian War stockade from the 1700s. Address: Chester, WV 26034, USA