The Historic Thurmond DepotSeptember 12, 2011
No form of transportation has meant more to the New River Gorge over the years than trains. From 1895 until the mid 1950’s, Thurmond was the hub of Gorge rail activity. At one time, the Thurmond yard had more freight and passengers moving through than the much larger yards of Cincinnati and Richmond. It is reported that in one year the Thurmond Depot welcomed over 75,000 travelers.
The Thurmond Depot was a pivotal player in this busy coal town. The original depot was built in 1899, and like many great buildings of the era, it was destroyed by fire. The depot was rebuilt in 1904; that’s the same building that stands in Thurmond today.
Built for Function
The two-story wooden structure functioned not only as the passenger depot, but also as C&O offices for the area. There were several other offices in the depot building, including:
- Ticket Master’s Office
- Yardmaster’s Office
- Trainmaster’s Office
- Car Dispatcher’s Office
- Conductor’s Room
- Supervisor’s Office
- McKell Coal & Coke Company Office
New Lease on Life
In 1995, with some historical restoration money in hand, the National Park Service gave the depot a makeover. This included turning some of it into a NPS visitor center and Thurmond museum.
The station still functions as a working stop on Amtrak’s Cardinal Line. This route runs from Chicago to New York, right through the heart of the New River Gorge. It takes a reservation to get the train to stop in Thurmond; otherwise it rolls on some 13 miles upstream to the station at Prince, WV.
Back to the Future
The Thurmond Depot is a wonderful interpretive stop in the National Park Service’s bevy of New River offerings. It functions as a visitor center down in the historic old town of Thurmond, not far from the park’s headquarter’s in Glen Jean.
Have you toured the Thurmond depot? Did you visit Thurmond in its prime?