Thurmond, West Virginia
The main line of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway was completed in 1873. This same year, Captain W.D. Thurmond procured 73 acres along the main line, which was a strategic purchase given the importance of the railroad, resulting in the ideal place to develop a town. Thurmond, WV quickly became one of the leading depots in the state, and from 1900 until the 1920s, the town prospered immensely; the depot saw fifteen passenger trains a day and 95,000 passengers a year. As the coal and timber industry accelerated, Thurmond became one of the boom cities within West Virginia, served as the “heart” of the New River valley, and became the chief railroad center of the C&O Railway main line by 1910. Thurmond was home to two hotels, two banks, restaurants, clothing stores, a jewelry store, movie theater, dry-goods stores and business offices. During the town’s era of prosperity, coal barons contributed to the success of Thurmond’s banks which, at one time, were the richest in the state of West Virginia. Unfortunately, the town began to decline after diesel locomotives were invented and the importance of coal mining dwindled. This decline caused many of the local businesses to close, resulting in the emigration of residents. Moreover, the Great Depression produced yet another economic strain on the community, causing several other businesses and the National Bank of Thurmond to close. Two major fires in the town took out several prominent businesses causing even more difficulty and hardship for the community. These days, Thurmond is all but abandoned. However, a dedicated group of the few remaining citizens are attempting to revitalize the community.