It's Happening: Local Attraction Series #5 - Cool Springs Park

By Julie Perine on July 30, 2023 from It’s Happening via

For the past few years, I’ve let summer come and go without checking a visit to Cool Springs off my seasonal bucket list. Like many of you, I have fond memories of this quaint little roadside stop and shop located along Route 50 in the little former railroad town of Rowlesburg.
This year, my husband and I hit the road one recent Friday evening to see if our recollections of this cool little restaurant/store/park held true today. We found the interior spot on with those memories. We were delighted with the old-style booths and homestyle menu. We opted for the Cool Springs Burgers which were great. The night we visited, the deep fryer wasn’t in working condition, so there were no fries or onion rings. But we were satisfied and excited to stroll the store for treasures.
I made a beeline for the little wooden souvenir boxes, opening one and taking in that cedar smell which transformed me to a time when I was 10 years old or so. Other nostalgic items of interest included personalized bicycle license plates, giant swirl lollipops and retro car bingo cards. The store inventory was heavy with local foods – from jams, peppers, and pickled eggs to Preston County buckwheat cake flour. Throwback candies, dog treats, and basic essentials also filled shelves. But there was also hardware, décor, and even locally made furniture.
Outside, we meandered the grounds, visiting barnyard friends, including a pair of donkeys, a calf, peacocks, and various other birds. Placed sporadically through the grounds were antique engines and cars, including the trademark miniature train. Though the items were rundown - the train even spilling into the creek and the water wheel in disrepair – it was still an enjoyable experience. Despite obstacles they have faced, the Castle family has continued to run the roadside park, store and gas station for 74 years and I commend them for their efforts.
It was Harlan and Mary Castle who purchased the land and structure in 1949. Their granddaughter Saleena Sharp is at the helm of operations today.
“My grandparents’ passion to serve our customers and community has easily been passed down due to the amount of passion they put into this store and our family. Seeing them thrive and try every day was all we needed,” she said. “I believe Harlan would be impressed with our continued determination to work with the world we are left with. It is not easy to own a business in today’s world. I believe he would be proud of our constant efforts to keep the place going, despite the obstacles the economy and COVID has left on business owners.”
Saleena said she certainly wishes her grandfather was here today to help show the way.
“No one knows how to do it like he did,” Saleena said.
Harlan discovered and purchased the 1929-built structure in 1949 while on a search for a place to call his own and set up roots. Having a passion for equipment, he began collecting steam engines, tractors, and other pieces.
“He drove around West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio to find the pieces he desired,” Saleena said. “He had the land, so he parked his pieces here for himself and his customers to enjoy.”
Another trademark of Cool Springs is the rooftop cow.
“The cow on the roof is simply a statement - our signature,” Saleena said. “(Harlan) wanted to be different and it certainly worked. He loved to hear people say, ‘We want to go to the place where the cow is on the roof!’”
It was Harlan’s vision to create a one-stop shop for locals and travelers and it has been the family’s ongoing desire to keep that vision alive.
Cool Springs’ slogan is “We are old enough for yesterday, modern enough for tomorrow.”
“We make sure to serve all who walk through our doors – of any age,” Saleena said. “Our wide variety of services and merchandise will always keep your eyes on us.”
See more photos at the gallery link below.
Cool Springs Park is about an hour from Bridgeport. Just travel U.S. Route 50 East. 
Julie Perine can be reached at 304-848-7200 ext. 2 or
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