Thurmond, West Virginia, a once-thriving town in the heart of the New River Gorge, is now a haunting reminder of the past. With a population of just five people, this ghost town beckons curious visitors to explore its rich history and eerie atmosphere.
In this article, we delve into Thurmond, West Virginia, Ghost Town’s captivating story and uncover the factors that led to its dramatic decline. As you journey with us through the deserted streets and abandoned buildings, you’ll discover the fascinating tales that still echo through this enigmatic town.
A Brief History of Thurmond, West Virginia
The Origins of the Town
The story of Thurmond can be traced back to the early days of the coal mining industry, when Captain William D. Thurmond, a Confederate Army veteran, acquired 73 acres of land along the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad line in the 1870s.
With a strategic location next to the railroad, Thurmond’s vision was to establish a prosperous community to serve the miners working in the coal mines.
By the 1920s, Thurmond had become a bustling town with a thriving economy fueled by the coal industry. Numerous businesses and facilities cater to the needs of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and the local population.
However, a series of events soon led to the town’s gradual decline, transforming it into the ghost town it is today.
The Rise and Fall of Thurmond
At its peak, Thurmond was a booming center of commerce, with several coal towers and a population of several hundred. The town featured two banks, two hotels, various stores, a popular cinema, and several offices.
The rail yard at Thurmond was designed specifically for steam locomotives, and the town was a major hub for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.
However, the Great Depression of the 1930s took its toll on Thurmond, leading to the closure of one of its banks and the relocation of the other. Additionally, the advent of diesel locomotives and the growing popularity of cars and roads contributed to the decline of the town’s rail-based economy.
By the 1950s, Thurmond had become a virtual ghost town, with the majority of its residents and businesses gone.
Exploring Thurmond, West Virginia Ghost Town Today
National Park Service Ownership and Preservation
Today, the National Park Service owns around 80 percent of Thurmond as part of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. The entire town has been designated a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, ensuring its history and unique atmosphere are preserved for future generations.
In recent years, the National Park Service has undertaken various stabilization and restoration projects to preserve the remaining buildings in Thurmond. These efforts include renovating the historic Thurmond Depot, which now serves as a visitor center for the park.
A Walk Through Time: Thurmond Walking Tour
One of the best ways to experience the haunting beauty and fascinating history of Thurmond, West Virginia, Ghost Town is by embarking on the Thurmond Walking Tour. This self-guided tour takes visitors through the town’s well-preserved buildings, offering a glimpse into the golden era of this once-thriving community.
As you walk through the deserted streets, you’ll come across the remnants of hotels, banks, and the train depot, all serving as poignant reminders of the town’s past. The eerie atmosphere of Thurmond leads many to believe that this almost abandoned town is haunted, making the walking tour an even more intriguing experience.
Nearby Abandoned Communities: Kaymoor and Nuttallburg
To further explore the history of the New River Gorge area, consider visiting the nearby abandoned communities of Kaymoor and Nuttallburg.
Kaymoor, once one of the most successful coal operations in the gorge during the early 1900s, is now an abandoned historic site. The National Park Service has improved accessibility for visitors by building steps down to the site from the trail.
Nuttallburg is another abandoned mine town tucked away in the gorge. In the town, you’ll find informative signs detailing the life of the coal camp settlement and key features such as coke ovens, a towering conveyor belt, homes, and various mining structures. For information on hiking trails in these areas, visit the New River Gorge CVB website.
Halloween in the New River Gorge
The Pumpkin House in Oak Hill
For those visiting Thurmond, West Virginia Ghost Town during the Halloween season, there are additional spooky activities to enjoy in the surrounding area. The Pumpkin House in Oak Hill hosts an annual pumpkin carving contest, with categories for adults and children.
Winners are announced on October 29, making it a fun and festive way to celebrate the holiday.
ACE Adventure Resort Monster Bash
Another Halloween event worth attending is the ACE Adventure Resort Monster Bash, held on October 30. This nightmarish party features special appearances from the resort’s haunted house monsters, tarot card readings, themed cocktails, and more. It’s a spooktacular way to celebrate Halloween in the New River Gorge area.
Other West Virginia Ghost Towns
Thurmond is not the only ghost town in West Virginia. The state is home to several other abandoned towns, each with their own fascinating stories and legends. These ghost towns include Royal, Gad, Kayford, Sewell, and Spruce.
Exploring these deserted communities offers a unique glimpse into the history of the state and the industries that once fueled its growth.
Haunted Houses in West Virginia
The mysterious atmosphere and tales of tragic events in many of West Virginia’s abandoned towns have led to a booming haunted tour industry. If you’re interested in exploring more of the state’s eerie locations, consider visiting some of these haunted houses:
- The Haunted Barn in Charleston
- Miller’s Nightmare Haunted Farm
- Greyskull Manor in Clarksburg
- The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
- Haunted theatre at the Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg
- The West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville
Thurmond, West Virginia Ghost Town is a captivating destination for history enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike. Its haunting atmosphere, well-preserved buildings, and intriguing history make it a must-visit location for those interested in exploring the remnants of a bygone era.
Whether you’re delving into the town’s past on the Thurmond Walking Tour, visiting nearby abandoned communities, or celebrating Halloween in the New River Gorge, Thurmond offers a unique and unforgettable experience for all who dare to explore its ghostly streets.