“The sidewalk looked like Broadway there on a Saturday night.” – shopkeeper referencing Thurmond, WV in its heyday during the early 1900s
Though not home to a mine, Thurmond became a major hub for the C&O due to its strategic site amidst the many coal fields in the New River Gorge area. Revenues surpassed those of much larger cities like Cincinnati and Richmond. It is said that the longest running poker game in history took place over 14 years in one of the two hotels here.
Today, Thurmond is the least utilized depot in our country and run by the National Park Service. The NPS conducts tours at noon most Saturdays (thanks to John Boehner I can’t get the details or provide a current working link to the NPS site) and we took part in one during the NPS’s special heritage activities during the last weekend in September.
Tour guests meet at the restored train depot and walk across the tracks to the nearby buildings that remain. Though there’s not much left, our guide provided much insight on the history and architecture of Thurmond.
She even gave us a tour of the inside of the National Bank of Thurmond. (I didn’t upload those photos – you need to go and check it out for yourself.)
Film buffs may recognize some of the buildings from the movie Matewan which John Sayles shot in Thurmond as it resembles a coal town from the 1920s.
There is only one road in and out of Thurmond but it’s a beautiful drive and well worth the discovery of this piece of WV’s history.
After our tour of this C&O spot, we decided to head over to Prince to check out the depot there. Unfortunately, it is only open when the trains come through Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays (I think).
I did appreciate some of the “art” outside the building:
And, I got a peek of the terrazzo “Chessie” inside the depot: