East Liverpool Historical Society

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Rock Springs Park Fire

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Chester, WV Fire In Amusement Park, June 1915


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On This Day in West Virginia History... On June 5, 1915, the Old Mill at Rock Springs Park in Chester burned, killing four young people.


A side note to this story from the Chapter Ten, Great Fires by Gary Cornell is as follows

The East Liverpool Fire Department received the first call. This was the custom since the volunteer department in Chester was inadequate. East Liverpool responded with Engine Co. 1, the Chiefs Auto, and six men led by Chief A. S. Aungst.

When the Chester volunteers arrived they found the fire being fought by East Liverpool. They laid two more hydrant lines, but this only cut down the pressure of the lines already in operation. Chief Aungst told them to shut down their lines. This did not set too well with the volunteers or their Chief, Eugene Arnott.

When Chief Aungst tried to give them orders on how to attack the fire he was told to mind his own business. Later, when the fire was under control, Aungst went to Arnott and said that East Liverpool was leaving. He told Chester to hook up to the hydrant that East Liverpool was using. With this an argument broke out between the two Chiefs. Arnott threatened to have Aungst arrested if he disconnected the East Liverpool hose line. The East Liverpool Chief then gave Arnott five minutes to hook up his own lines. East Liverpool's firefighters were leaving, whether Chester was ready or not. With this it was said that the Chester Chief became abusive and wanted to fight. Chief Aungst refused and the East Liverpool firefighters left.

Rocks Springs Park - 1912-1929

Rock Springs Park in Chester continued to be a favorite local and regional resort. The park, however, did experience several slumps during this period but managed to overcome them and remain a popular attraction. In 1912 picnics sponsored by the NBOP and the Review attracted thousands of visitors. An estimated twenty thousand people frolicked in the park during Independence Day activities. The first blow to the park occurred in April of 1912 when the Pennsylvania Railroad eliminated the special excursion fares it had offered for years. Fearing a loss, East Liverpool merchants, various city civic and trade organizations, and regional businesses protested the action. The railroad asserted that the inconvenience for regular passenger and freight service and a lack of cars were the reasons for the decision. The controversy continued through the summer and fall. When the Lowe Brothers Ice Cream Company, which supplied Rock Springs Park, declared bankruptcy in October of 1,912 it was blamed on the anti-excursion decision. In July of 1913 the Interstate Commerce Commission refused to restore the rates. C.A. Smith, owner of the park, feared the loss of "several thousand dollars." The park was sold at sheriff's auction in 1916. Although it was operated during the next decade, primarily for local residents, the park was not the great attraction it had once been. C.C. MacDonald purchased the park in 1918 and resurrected the fight to have excursion rates restored. One by one, however, attractions had to be eliminated. During 1921, for example, only the merry-go-round, dancing pavilion, and swimming pool were operated. in 1925 MacDonald began renovating and rebuilding the park and installed a new roller coaster. Finally, after a long struggle, MacDonald convinced the Pennsylvania Railroad Company to operate excursion trains to his park in 1929. East Liverpool merchants were ecstatic and welcomed the return of the eighty thousand dollars in business they had enjoyed every summer. Source of Information: The City of Hills and Kilns. Life and Work in East Liverpool, Ohio William C. Gates, Jr. East Liverpool Historical Society, (1984) p. 303.

Rocks Springs Park - 1930's

Rock Springs Park continued to be a favorite resort for local and regional visitors. In May of 1933 Kay Kaiser was the featured attraction of the season's opening dance at the Virginia Gardens pavilion; Martins Ferry, Brilliant, and Tiltonsville, Ohio staged their community picnics at the Park. In July six thousand people crammed the midway area to hear Lowell Thomas speak for the Columbiana County Bar Association. The NBOP held its annual picnic at Rock Springs Park in 1933 and offered free turkey and transportation to unemployed potters. The rides and picnic facilities of the Park attracted up to 500,000 visitors in an average season including all of the district's schools. Rock Springs Park closed for three years during World War II because of a manpower shortage but re-opened in 1945. By Memorial Day of 1947 when more than twenty thousand people visited the park, the local resort was once again teeming with people. Source of Information: The City of Hills and Kilns. Life and Work in East Liverpool, Ohio William C. Gates, Jr. East Liverpool Historical Society, (1984) pp. 343-44.

Rock Springs Park 1949

Jaycees' Tri-State Picnic

August 3, 1949

The above picture and the following 20 pictures are all from a Jaycees' Scrap book created by Dr. Herschel and Elsa Rubin in 1949-50. We post these pictures with Dr. Rubin's permisison.

CONTINUE TO Rock Springs Park 3


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