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Cool Springs Park

Generational piece of history for locals and tourists alike

By Gabriella Brown

ROWLESBURG — As part of the third generation to operate Cool Springs Park, Saleena Sharp said there is nothing more rewarding than spending every day with her family.

“I am just so grateful to God that I get to spend every single day with my nanny,” Sharp said. “I’ve stayed here because I get to be with my family every day.”

Cool Springs Park, a one-stop shop  in Rowlesburg, has a little bit of everything. Travelers passing through can stop by for the full-service gas station or grab a homemade meal at the restaurant. Inside the store, visitors can buy just about anything from lumber and livestock feed to hardware and souvenirs.

At no cost, families can visit the animals at the park’s petting zoo or snap a photo of one of the largest operating water wheels in West Virginia.

Cool Springs’ attractions don’t stop there. A piece of the park’s history is the antique farm equipment and train that sits on tracks laid by Sharp’s grandfather, E. Harlan Castle.

The park has been in Sharp’s family for over 71 years and was founded by Castle in 1949. Sharp said when he first bought it, it was a small, one-room cabin that he envisioned to be the perfect place to open a restaurant.

After buying the business, Sharp’s grandfather got to work selling hamburgers and hotdogs. Over the years, he continued making additions to the property, until it became a business where visitors could find just about anything.

“Our business card actually says ‘we have it, can get it or it isn’t made’,” Sharp said.

In 1981, Sharp said the original Cool Springs Park burned down in an electrical fire, leaving little of what Castle had built over the years. No one was injured, but Sharp said her grandfather had not planned on rebuilding the shop.

“After the overwhelming response and kindness from the community and family and friends and everything, you realize how important we were as friends and a community and as a supplier,” Sharp said. “He decided to rebuild, thankfully.”

This loyal customer base helped the business continue to thrive after the fire. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,  customers have shown their support once again.

Before the pandemic, Cool Springs never had to limit its operations. Through anything from Hurricane Sandy to four-foot snow falls, the business stayed open.

Now, for the first time, dine-in services are limited and the number of people who can enter the store at a time is restricted. While Cool Springs still offers take-out and its full-service gas station is still operational, Sharp said it is difficult to operate with the limitations.

antique farm equipment at cool springs
Cool Springs Park features antique farm equipment.

“We do miss our customers,” Sharp said. “You get very attached.”

Through thick and thin, Sharp’s family has continued to carry on the legacy of Castle’s business.

Alicia Creamer, Sharp’s mother, said growing up with the business and seeing how hard her parents worked is what inspired her to stay and help operate it.

“It’s fun, it’s interesting and there is always a challenge,” Creamer said. “You always got to know what that next person wants.”

For Creamer, carrying on her parent’s legacy has always been something she values. Even on the days she felt like giving up, reminding herself of how hard her parents worked to make the store into what it is today helped her persevere.

Sharp said she has no intention of leaving anytime soon, and Creamer said she is proud to know Cool Springs Park will live on for years to come.

“I’m proud as can be,” Creamer said. “My brother and I both have grandchildren coming up, so hopefully we are healthy enough to show them what to do if they choose to do it.”

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