No matter how many hours of driving are left on your road trip, Cool Springs turns a quick break into a mini-vacation.

Located along route 50 in Preston County, this mom and pop shop opened in 1949. Harlan Castle was looking for a place to go into business and thought a strip mall near Rowlesburg was the perfect pitstop for travelers. Cool Springs Park features all the typical gas station amenities, but has much more to offer, from knickknacks and shovels to alpacas and trains. Here’s our list of must-sees:

1. The gift shop & restaurant

If the cow on the roof did not prove this place was quirky, then the gift shop will. Lisa Creamer, daughter of owners Harlan and Mary Castle, says her dad’s catchphrase has always been “we have it, can get it, or it isn’t made.” A restaurant sits in the middle of the store, where you can order eggs and toast, burgers, or the store’s renowned footlong hot dogs.


2. The park

If you are looking for a place to take a break from driving, the park located next to the souvenir shop is the place to be. “(When) people are tired of driving, they like to come here to enjoy resting and walking around,” says Mary. Visitors can play on the wooden slide, train, and other antiques scattered across the property. Kids will love the enclosed animal exhibit that features multiple species including alpacas, donkeys, and rabbits, as well as a fishpond.


3. The water wheel

After seeing a small water wheel at another location, Harlan decided to build one at Cool Springs. The wheel has become a tourist attraction for the restaurant and convenience store. Even though it is not currently operating, guests can sit and enjoy the architecture while listening to the rushing water of the stream.


4. The industrial garden

When you drive by Cool Springs Park, the first thing you may notice is the field of rusted equipment across from the property. Farm tools, tractors, and even an antique clock can be found in this Appalachian take on a sculpture garden. Kids—and dogs—can’t seem to stay away from this area of the park. Check out the red train sitting in the back corner. It’s sure to bring out the child in anyone.


5. The covered bridge

Visitors love taking photos with the covered bridge that sits between rows of trees, creating a little getaway for those who stop to enjoy the scene. Moss grows atop the roof and a running stream flows underneath. The wooden structure, built by Harlan in the early 1970s, is full of antique tools that match the rustic theme of the rest of the property.


written by Kristen Uppercue

photographed by Nikki Bowman