With just a population of five, Thurmond serves as an interpretive site for a town that once served as an important stop for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad before the advent of the diesel locomotive era.
The town was not formally incorporated until 1900 as Thurmond, named for Confederate Captain William Thurmond.
had surveyed land in the county and was offered land along the river as payment for his
work for $20.
The railroad was completed through the valley in 1873, but it was not until the completion of the Loup Creek branch up Dunloup Creek in 1892 that Thurmond
became a boom town.
The Loup Creek line was one of the C&O's
busiest branches in the New River region that served multiple coal mines in the rich Sewell seam.
was the center of the New River valley, and boasted a passenger depot, freight station, engine house, water tank, coal and sand towers, two banks, two hotels, a meat-packing plant, several stores and boarding houses.
During the first two decades of the 1900s, Thurmond
handled more freight than Richmond, Virginia and Cincinnati, Ohio combined.
Over 95,000 passengers departed and arrived at the depot yearly.
And over 150 worked for the railroad at Thurmond
By 1910, Thurmond
was producing $4.8 million of freight revenue for the Chesapeake & Ohio, which was 20% of the entire company's revenue.
It was ten times more than Richmond and 2.5 times more than Cincinnati.
There were 18 train crews that operated out of the town.
But a fire destroyed a large part of Thurmond
in 1922, and the Great Depression caused the Thurmond National Bank
, a city-owned venture, to close.
The introduction of the diesel locomotive meant that coal was no longer needed to fuel the massive steam engines, and thus there was no need to stop for coal or water in Thurmond
The Chesapeake & Ohio was one of the last railroads to convert from steam to diesel, but when it did, Thurmond
became an overnight ghost town.
In 1978, the National Park Service
established the New River Gorge National River for the purpose of conserving and interpreting the outstanding natural, scenic and historic values of the New River Gorge, and to preserve the New River as a free-flowing stream.
In 1984, the Thurmond Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The historic railroad depot was restored from 1994 to 1995, and many other buildings have been stabilized.
Today, Thurmond - with just five residents, still elects a mayor and still holds official business in a town hall.
Turn right onto Glen Jean Lane at the base of the hill, and follow the signage for Thurmond
, approximately 6.5 miles from Glen Jean.