THURMOND, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Thurmond, West Virginia was once a booming railroad town in the heart of the New River Gorge.
The land on which Thurmond sits was acquired by Confederate Captain W.D. Thurmond in 1873 as payment for a nearby surveying job.
Captain Thurmond had big plans for this plot of land along the wild and raging New River, and the said plans would soon come to fruition with the completion of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.
Thurmond became an essential stop along the C&O for steam engines as it was a key spot in the New River Gorge to load up with fresh water and coal, as well as sand to help maintain traction on the tracks.
The town also had the highest amount of freight revenue along the C&O blowing out every major city on the line such as Cincinnati, OH, and Richmond, VA. Thurmond featured a machine shop that serviced multiple steam engines per day. It was always noisy in Thurmond!
Multiple banks, stores, and people called Thurmond home for decades. Once the 1950s rolled around and diesel locomotives were the most efficient for the rail companies, steam locomotives were soon extinct along the C&O and Thurmond began to decline.
As steam engines were no longer used on the C&O, there was no major need for Thurmond.
People moved away for new jobs and searched for more convenient places to live as rail passenger travel also declined.
Today, most of Thurmond is owned by the National Park Service and is part of the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve.
The depot has been restored by the NPS and serves as a seasonal visitor center and museum. Some of the structures are still privately owned and around 5 people still live in the town.