A large, fancy white house with a red roof sitting on a hill with a stone and white fence around it.
The Prince Residence, colorized.

Red Ribble

An older man with a white beard wearing an old fashioned suit, bow tie, and hat holding a cigar standing in front of a wooden porch.
William Prince


In 1870, in the heart of the New River Gorge, two brothers, William and James Prince, purchased 300 acres of land. This land bought from General Alfred Beckley would become the town of Prince. The Prince brothers arrived in the gorge before the building of the railroad in 1873. They earliest business were the Prince Bothers General Store and a ferry crossing. As the construction of the railroad began, their businesses flourished. The Stretcher's Neck tunnel construction and nearby bridge construction especially provided good business.

An Independent Town

The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad passed through the Prince brothers' land. During its construction, the brothers sold the C&O a right-of-way agreement. This agreement allowed the C&O to pass through their land so long as every train stopped in Prince. The number of trains stopping in Prince brought a wide variety of goods and passengers to the town.

Prince was never a mining town, one of only a few in New River Gorge. No coal company ever owned the town. The Prince family owned all the buildings in town and rented them out to businesses. Prince prospered from its ideal location near the center of the gorge. This made it a prime supplier to mining towns for both people and goods. The Prince Store offered a wide variety of goods to both local residents and mining town stores. People from Fayette and Raleigh counties, including Beckley and Layland, shopped in Prince.

A wooden train depot with the name Prince and two railroad workers standing in front of it
The Old C&O Railway Station at Prince.


The Prince Depot

In 1880, the first passenger train depot in New River Gorge opened in Prince. Thousands of passengers used the depot, so many that it required an enlargement in 1891. Whether for business or mining, people were pouring into Prince. The first depot burned down in 1917 but was rebuilt the very same year. A new depot replaced the old one in 1946.

At its height, Prince had a population of 250 residents. It had both an elementary and high school along with a post office, train depot, hotel, and tavern. The town also had two churches. The Prince brothers built their home at the junction of the Piney Creek line and the main line.

Prince Today

Like many towns in New River Gorge, Prince began to decline with the loss of the coal industry. The town is not gone like many mining towns. Today, about 17 people still call Prince home. Amtrak uses the Prince depot as a stop three days a week with over 1,000 passengers a year. Although the Prince Store closed its doors in 1984, visitors can still see the store building along WV-41. Both the railroad bridge and Stretcher's Neck tunnel are still in use by freight and passenger trains every week.


More Places in New River Gorge

  • A train platform and depot next to railroad tracks. The depot has a sign that says Prince.
    Prince Depot

    Learn about the Prince Depot in New River Gorge which is still active today, serving passengers on the Amtrak Cardinal.

  • historic photo of people in a store
    Prince Brothers Store

    Discover the story of what early newspapers called "the most important store in the county".

  • historic photo of soldiers constructing a bridge
    Army Camp

    Learn about Camp Prince, or Army Camp, which served as a training and testing ground for assembling floating bridges during the Korean War.

Last updated: August 24, 2023

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