Once among the greatest railroad towns along the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, Thurmond recaptures the days when steel rails, steam, and coal were the major themes in our nation's history. The historic Thurmond Depot has been restored to serve as a park visitor center. Exhibits and historic furnishings bring the golden days of railroading back to life.
To reach Thurmond, take U.S. Route 19 to the Glen Jean exit, north of Beckley. Follow the signs to Thurmond, seven miles down WV Route 25 (Route 25 is a narrow, winding road and is not recommended for RVs and trailers). No automotive services are available in Thurmond.
During the first two decades of the 1900s, Thurmond was a classic boomtown. With the huge amounts of coal brought in from area mines, it had the largest revenue on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. Having many coal barons among its patrons, Thurmond's banks were the richest in the state. Fifteen passenger trains a day came through town -- its depot serving as many as 95,000 passengers a year. The town's stores and saloons did a remarkable business, and its hotels and boarding houses were constantly overflowing.
With the advent of diesel locomotives, and less coal coming in from local mines, the town began a steady decline. The many businesses closed down, and most residents moved on. Today, the town of Thurmond remains surprisingly untouched by modern development. It is a link to our past, and a town with many stories to tell. New River Gorge National River invites visitors to experience the impact of the industrial revolution, and the National Park Service's mission to preserve our nation's heritage.
Last updated: July 14, 2020