A Real Modern Day Ghost Town: Thurmond, West Virginia

Thurmond is a modern day ghost town located in Fayette County, West Virginia.

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Today most of the town has been purchased by the National Park Service and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   Thurmond is unique in the fact that It was never a coal camp, but it was a coal town. It was a small incorporated commercial center in the New River Gorge, situated at the junction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad main line, which connected with the various small coal company lines that served the mines. Interestingly, Thurmond was accessible solely by rail until 1921.  Today the  town is accessible by state route 25 from US 19.

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The town occupies a narrow stretch of flat land along the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad track, with no road between the tracks and the town.

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Instead, a single-lane road crosses the New River on a single-track railroad bridge, crosses the main line, and climbs the hill behind the town so that it parallels the town 150 feet higher on the hill before dropping down next to the tracks.

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The C&O station was built in 1888.

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The original structure burned in 1903 and was replaced a year later.  Today It is a two story wood framed structure that was renovated in 1995 and functions  an Amtrak station and as a park service visitor center for the New River Gorge.

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The National Bank of Thurmond building is a four story structure that was erected in 1917 by the Bullock Realty Company.

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The building housed a jewelry store until 1922 when The National Bank of Thurmond purchased the building for $24,000.    The first level was originally cast iron store fronts but when the bank purchased the building they immediately began renovations and incorporated the cut limestone into their side of the building.   The National Bank of Thurmond was first opened in 1907 and was a victim of the Great Depression in 1931.

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The Goodman Kinkaid Building is a three story structure that was constructed in 1905/1906 and consisted of two store fronts and two floors of apartments.

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The Mankin-Cox Building is a three story structure and was constructed by DR. J.W. Mankin in 1904.  The building housed two store fronts and two floors of apartments.

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This building was also home to a pharmacy operated by Mankin’s wife and the New River Bank and trust which remained here until they relocated to the National Bank of thurmond Building when they closed in 1931.  New River Bank and trust remained in Thurmond until 1935 when they relocated to nearby Oak Hill.

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The Commisary was constructed by D.D Fitzgerald in 1929.

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When the Lafayette Hotel was destroyed by fire in 1963 it took the towns post office which was located in the lobby with it.  The post office then moved to the commissary building where it would remain until 1995 when the post office at Thurmond closed.  The zip code at Thurmond is 25936.

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At its peak, Thurmond boasted two banks, two hotels, two drugstores, two jewelry stores, Armour & Co. wholesale meat distributors, a movie theater, and several grocery stores and restaurants. The C & O Railroad had 15 miles of track on the Thurmond yards. The round house employed nearly 175 men and 20 local engines and their crews made their headquarters in Thurmond.

The town was placed on the National Register of HistoricPlaces in 1984.

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During the 2005 election six of the town’s seven residents sought office.

The 2010 census lists the population of Thurmond at five and as those five pass away or move on to other places the houses and the land they sit on become property of the national park service and part of the New River Gorge.

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