Featured Preservation

COThurmond, West Virginia


Thurmond, West Virginia, The Heart of the New River Gorge, was established by Captain William D. Thurmond and incorporated in 1903. Serving as a railroad town, Thurmond was at its heyday in the 1920's with more coal running through it than Cincinnati, Ohio. Thurmond hosted the Guiness Book of World Record's longest poker game, is one of Travel & Leisure's coolest ghost towns in America, is where the movie Matewan was filmed, and is a put-in for the upper New River whitewater rafting community. Today, Thurmond is host for the Thurmond Triathlon and boasts beautiful trails for hiking and mountain biking with ample access to the New River for boating and fishing.

twv_state Thurmond is a small town in Fayette County, West Virginia, situated along the New River. The population was five at the 2010 census. During the heyday of coal mining in the New River Gorge, Thurmond was a prosperous town with a number of businesses and railroad facilities of the former Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. Today, most of Thurmond is owned by the National Park Service for the New River Gorge National River. The wooden C&O passenger railway depot in town was renovated in 1995 and now functions as a Park Service visitor center as well as official flag stop for Amtrak's New York to Chicago, three days a week Cardinal service. The entire town is a designated historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. R. J. Corman's West Virginia Line interchanges across the former C&O New River bridge with the busy CSX Transportation mainline.

Click to see the Thurmond depot location plotted on a Google Maps page



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.

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.

National Park Service

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

tag_pinLoup Creek Subdivision

The former Loup Creek subdivision of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, departing the Hinton Division mainline and crossing the New River, is today operated as a shortline by R. J. Corman's railroad operations. The shortline is operated as the West Virginia Line. Interchange is made in a small 2-track yard on the western side of the New River.


Coaling Tower

tag_spot Signals


The C&O established the Thurmond yards during the 1880s to facilitate the transportation of the New River Gorge's smokeless coal to markets. As a maintenance and repair facility the Thurmond Yards were a major regional feature along the C&O throughout the steam engine era. As a major assembling point for coal cars from different mines, the marshalling yards at Thurmond handled more coal, and thus producing more revenue, than all but a few such facilities. Finally, as a town where only trains travelled down Main Street, Thurmond gained a reputation as a regional center of commerce and recreation, legal or otherwise.

New River Subdivision

New River Subdivision collection



CSX Transportation #3250

  • builder:General Electric
  • model:ET44AH
  • type:C-C mainline road unit
  • built:2015
  • series:in production since 2003
  • engine:GEVO (12 cyl, 4400 hp)
  • notes:
  • 1 of 550 in 2012 CSX order
  • builder

    tag_spot Amtrak #50

    May 2016

    On my way home to Pennsylvania from an excellent Saturday chasing Norfolk & Western #611 across central Virginia with my brother-in-law, on Sunday I made an impromptu stop across the New River in Thurmond, West Virginia. What I love about railfanning is the element of surprise: some locations on some days yield nothing in the way of action; others yield everything. Thurmond this Sunday morning turned out to be the right place at the right time. When I rolled up to the historic depot, I noticed there was some folks with luggage standing around. I checked on my phone: Sure enough, the Cardinal was running almost an hour late that morning. I would be able to catch it's station stop. Then I noticed a westbound CSX freight on the far side of the depot, stopped by a control point signal. Before long, it became clear that he was waiting, not for the eastbound Cardinal, but for yet another CSX freight that had to come through before #50 could do its station work. The dispatcher cleared the two freights, and then the familiar profile of a Genesis unit appeared under the Thurmond signal masts. #50 rolled in, dropped off and took on a handful of Sunday travellers, then highballed out of Thurmond for Chesapeake & Ohio points east -- thus fulfilling one more time the time-honored American flag stop routine. Three trains in one hour, in a great location: That's what I love about railfanning. It was a great morning to visit the otherwise sleepy little town of Thurmond, West Virginia.

    See also our complete Cardinal page in our Amtrak Route Scrapbooks


    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2016-05-28