Opened in 1946, Prince station is located along the New River and still functions as a passenger depot today.
Backstory and Context
In 1880 the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway built the first station in Prince, West Virginia. In 1891 the wooden depot was enlarge due to expansion in commercial freight and passenger travel. In 1917 a fire nearly destroyed the station causing a new one to be built.
Robert R. Young, the C&O president, had a vision and wanted to create a more stylish, streamlined and efficient passenger rail system following World War II. In 1942 the present red brick station was built. Garfield, Harris, Robinson and Schaffer, an architectural firm from Cleveland, Ohio along with the railroad designed the current station. It opened on June 26, 1946. Nearly 3,000 people attended the opening. The newly constructed station featured large expanses of glass on the north and south facades. It also had a flat cantilevered roof and terrazzo flooring. The station was constructed so that the sun would warm the passengers who waited along the platform and inside the depot during the winter. The rood and platform canopy provided shade for passengers during the summer. The C&O’s “Chessie” kitten logo was embedded in the floor in the waiting room and can still be seen by visitors.
Along with its waiting area and ticket desk, the station consisted of a 125 foot long by 22 foot wide depot that contained restrooms. There was also a ladies’ lounge and freight, and baggage and express rooms. The station had modern technology too, offering ultraviolet lights and radiant heating in the floor. An image taken by Arnold Eagle in 1944 is displayed on one end of the waiting room. The wall length photo mural shows the coal tipple in nearby Crab Orchard. It shows how economically important coal mining was to the C&O and the region.
Due to its location, serving a vast amount of passengers from Beckley and other communities, Prince was selected as the prototype for this visionary station. It was planned for the depot to serve the railroad’s streamline passenger train from Washington to Cincinnati called The Chessie however it never went into service.
Prince serves as the general hub for its area. It is the main station for the majority of Fayette County. It provides access to a variety of outdoor activities. White water rafting on the New River and camping on National Park Service lands are just a couple of activities the station provide access to.