Tour of the TownWhat remains of Thurmond today helps give us a sense of the spirit of this place during its heyday. Each building added to the rich fabric of this community. Take this tour and learn the story of Thurmond, a place that was truly the heart of the New River Gorge.
Should you decide to walk this tour, please use extra caution when crossing the road and railroad line. This track is still a CSX mainline, with over a dozen trains passing through Thurmond daily. Cross only at the designated railroad crossing and do not walk on the track line.
1. Passenger DepotThe two-story Thurmond Depot was built in 1904 after the original station was destroyed by fire. The upper level housed the signal tower, and the offices of the dispatcher, train master, and conductor. The lower level served travelers coming and going from Thurmond. The ticket agent’s office, baggage room, waiting rooms, restrooms, and a snack/news room were at track level.
In 1995, the building was restored by the National Park Service for use as a visitor center. Rebuilt to its early 1900s look, this place gives us a glimpse of Thurmond’s lively days. It remains a flag stop for Amtrak passenger trains.
2. CommissaryFitzgerald & Company built a commissary to provide supplies to the hundreds of railroad workers in Thurmond in the 1930s. It later became the U.S. Post Office after fire destroyed the Lafayette Hotel and the town post office. In the late 1900s, it housed the last business in Thurmond — Thurmond Supply.
3. Water TanksTwo water tanks provided the water supply for the steam that powered C & O engines. The tanks served five water columns, the engine house, and the fire hose house. The elevated tower was built in 1914 and had a 100,000-gallon capacity. The standpipe tower was erected in 1927 and could hold 210,000 gallons of water. CSX Railroad, the former C & O Railway, removed the tanks in 1998.
4. Mankin-Cox BuildingMarking the southern limits of the commercial district and constructed in 1904 by Dr. J. W. Mankin, this building is the oldest in the district. The Mankin Drug Company was on the right side; the left side housed the New River Banking and Trust Company.
5. Goodman-Kincaid BuildingConstructed in 1906 by the Standard Dry Goods Company, the building’s two upper levels were used as apartments. The second floor included the offices of the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Exchange Company and Dr. C. F. Ridge. Over time, the main floor has been home to two stores and several restaurants, including Mrs. McClure’s.
6. National Bank of ThurmondThe year 1917 marked the completion of this building by the Bullock Realty Company. It originally housed a jewelry store, clothing store, the Western Union Telegraph Company, and apartments. In 1923, the National Bank of Thurmond relocated there from its original site within the Hotel Thurmond. More recently, the building housed the Banker’s Club Hotel and Restaurant, serving boaters and other visitors.
7. Lafayette HotelReplacing the original Hotel Thurmond, this thirty-five room structure included a veranda which extended to the railroad tracks. It housed several businesses and shops. The hotel boasted seven bathrooms, steam heat, and four hundred electric lights.
Its main competition was the Dunglen Hotel located across the river. Known for its luxury and entertainment, the activities of the Dunglen contributed to the town becoming known as the “Dodge City of the East.”
8. Coaling TowerTracks ran underneath the coaling station to allow as much as 500 tons of coal to drop via chutes into the coal tenders of the engines. The tower was abandoned in 1960 by CSX.
9. Engine HouseBuilt in 1905, the Engine House was the workplace of fifty to seventy men. At peak operation, machinists, boilermakers, and steam fitters serviced sixty to one hundred railroad cars daily. In 1963, the building was used as a repair shop until it was abandoned in 1985. Fire destroyed it in 1993.
Last updated: January 6, 2020