About This Lesson
The lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file, "Thurmond Historic District" (with photographs), National Park Service documents, and other source materials about railroading in the New River Gorge.
Cynthia Doktorski, former Supervisory Park Ranger at New River Gorge National River, wrote the lesson. Fay Metcalf, education consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff edited it. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson plan will help students understand how important these services were to an otherwise inaccessible region. It can be used in units on Transportation History and Community Planning and Development.
Time period: Early 20th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To relate ways that steam-age railway workers were involved in the development of communities and the nation.
2) To describe the jobs of railroad workers employed at the town of Thurmond.
3) To analyze a disaster ballad as a means of memorializing people and events and to identify some of the reasons for their continued popularity.
4) To compare the role of Thurmond rail operations in the early 20th century with transportation centers in their community today.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps of Chesapeake & Ohio rail lines and the coal mine connection;
2) three readings compiled from documents, railroad regulations, and music of the region;
3) one illustration of the layout of Thurmond;
4) three photos of Thurmond, the Thurmond depot, and the ticket office at a C&O depot.
Visiting the site
Thurmond Historic District, administered by the National Park Service, is within the boundaries of New River Gorge National River. The Thurmond train depot remains an active passenger station, as well as a historical exhibit and visitor information center. The town can be reached from West Virginia Route 25. For more information, contact the Superintendent, New River Gorge National River, 104 Main Street, Glen Jean, WV 25846 or visit the park's web pages.