ECW Weekender: The Rocktop Bookshop and Bindery

It’s always fun to discover a new used book shop. Recently, my colleague Dan Welch pointed me to a shop, new to me, in Cashtown, Pennsylvania, called the Rocktop Bookshop and Bindery.

Located just down the street from the famous Cashtown Inn on Old Route 30, Rocktop takes up two buildings. One building, which used to be a dry-goods store built just after the Civil War, features a fantastic selection of Civil War titles and other military history. The second, which had once been the Rock Top Hotel, includes other aspects of American history plus English, European, Middle Eastern, and natural history. They have a special interest in medieval history, too.

Beyond their collections for history lovers, book aficionados can find volumes on everything from cooking, gardening, genealogy, mythology and folklore, music and dance, and travel. There’s plenty to browse and explore.

Rocktop Bookshop is typically open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. “We make the bulk of our sales at Civil War shows,” co-owner Chris Herbert explained to me. “Fridays are usually packing days, and Mondays are usually unpacking days, and on the weekends, we’re often on the road. So that’s why we’re open mid-week.” But, he added, any weekend they’re not at a show, they’re in the shop, so he encourages people to call ahead and see if anyone’s around. (You can find contact info on their website.)

Chris Herbert

Chris was in the middle of a binding project when I stopped in, but he was glad to stop his work to explain the store’s layout to me and some of the deals he offered (for instance, buy four $5 books and walk out with a fifth for free). The longer I browsed, the more we chit-chatted. Chris was gracious with his time, and I learned a lot about the work he’s put in to restore the old building. It had once been converted into apartments, so he’s had to knock out walls, remove tiling to show off the original wooden floors, and re-install all the old shelves from the building’s days as a dry-goods store (which now, conveniently, make great bookshelves!).

Herbert and his wife, Drucilla Meany-Herbert, moved to the area from Massachusetts several years ago. Chris has been in the book business since 1995, and he has worked as a book binder and book restorer for more than two decades. Drucilla, who’s been in the book business since 1985, is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

For more information on the history of Rocktop Bookshop, including some cool info about Cashtown’s history, check out this page on their website.

To find the store in person, punch “1215 Old Route 30, Cashtown, PA 17310” into your GPS. “GPS may insist we are in Orrtanna,” the store’s website cautions. “Just go with it.”

It’s well worth the trip out from Gettysburg.

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