Thurmond, a West Virginia Ghost Town

My jot of photography and history sometimes takes me to out-of-the-way places.  I not only enjoy taking photos but also learning the history of what ends up as a photo on my computer.  This adventure took me to Thurmond, West Virginia, a once thriving town with only a handful of residents still there.

Thurmond is different from the other abandoned ghosts towns along the New River in West Virginia as it was a was not built around a coal mine but on the needs of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad who served many of the mining towns.

During the towns heydays between 1900 and 1930, a passenger depot, freight station, engine house, water tank, coal and sand towers all were constructed, along with hotels, New River Banking and Trust Company, Armour Meat Company meat-packing plant, stores, boarding houses and restaurants.

In 1930, there were 462 residents and according to the 2010 census, only 5 residents were left.  Basically my kind of place for photos.

The Train Depot and One Lane Bridge
The Train Depot and One Lane Bridge
Depot and Bridge (1945)
Depot and Bridge (1945)

I have read about Thurmond for the last year and was very excited and intrigued by visiting this Ghost Town at the bottom of the gorge.  We came in from the east side down a fairly nice two lane road along Dunlop Creek.  We crossed into Thurmond along a one lane steel bridge that was also part of the train trestle bridge.  As we crossed over the bridge the old depot built-in 1888 was on our right and the remnants of the old downtown are on our left.

Mainstreet Thurmond (date unknown)
Mainstreet Thurmond (date unknown)
Thurmond (8)
Mainstreet Thurmond – 2015

Our first stop was the old depot that is now run by the Park Service.  In 1985, the  Railroad sold the railroad passenger depot to the National Park Service. Restoration of the depot began was finished in 1995.  Amtrak still provides service to the Thurmond Depot, however it requires a call ahead or the train will not stop.  We were lucky on our visit to be there when the passenger train came through.

Amtrak Stopping in Thurmond
Amtrak Stopping in Thurmond

From the depot we set out on foot where all the remaining structures are with-in maybe a quarter of a mile.  We first came across the 3 remaining downtown buildings, the National Bank of Thurmond Building, the Goodman-Kincaid Building and the Mankin-Cox Building .  The National park has plans to refurbish these in the future but have only stabilized the structures and have installed a very large de-humidifier.  These buildings never had a street in front of them and the tracks are just a few feet from the buildings.

National Bank of Thurmond Building, Goodman-Kincaid Building and the Mankin-Cox Building
National Bank of Thurmond Building, Goodman-Kincaid Building and the Mankin-Cox Building

Further down and across from the remaining buildings is the coal tower and sanding house which was used to service steam locomotives until they were slowly replaced by diesel-electric locomotives.

C&O Coaling Tower and Sand House (1920 and 2015)
C&O Coaling Tower and Sand House (1920 and 2015)

Further down are several boarding houses and old homes, all abandoned.  We went back to the depot and drove up the side of the gorge behind the main street buildings, where there were many homes abandoned and a couple still occupied.

The Park Ranger had told us that the Amtrak train was due in about 30 minutes and only comes through the gorge 3 times a week.  We went for a short drive came back and waited..

It was worth the wait…..

Amtrak Thru Thurmond, West Virginia
Amtrak Thru Thurmond, West Virginia

 

 

Photographer 

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