Attractions November 02, 2015
The Story Behind This West Virginia Ghost Town Will Fascinate You
Thurmond, located in Fayette County, went from a prosperous small town to a near-ghost town with just five inhabitants. The town’s story and its remarkably well-preserved buildings will make you want to take a stroll through it…just don’t look for a street or sidewalks to stroll down.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
Thurmond, West Virginia, in the New River Gorge, was once a thriving train town. In coal mining's heyday, it had many prosperous businesses and facilities for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.
Businesses crowded the town to provide services for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, which ran right through Thurmond.
Nowadays, though, it’s nearly a ghost town. Much of it it is owned by the National Park Service as part of the New River Gorge National River.
In the 2010 census, Thurmond had five residents. According to a news report from earlier this year, all of the residents participate in city government. There are three council members, a mayor, and a town recorder.
As you would expect, there are reports that Thurmond is haunted, though I couldn’t find any specific ghost stories. One internet report I read did say that a “strange presence” seems to follow you here.
In its prime - around 1930 - the town boasted a population of nearly 500.
There were two hotels, two banks, a train depot, a post office, and a small but thriving commercial district.
The more famous of the two hotels, the Dun Glen, became nationally recognized in its day and was the site of what Ripley's Believe it or Not called the world's longest-lasting poker game. It went steady for 14 years.
The Dun Glen burned down in 1930, an event that most people believe directly led to the swift decline of the town. The population steadily and rapidly declined and never bounced back.
One of the town's oddest features is its lack of a road to the commercial district. The railroad tracks are separated from the town's buildings by a few scant yards of empty ground. The town was only accessible by railroad until 1921.
Eventually a road was built which crosses over the New River (which runs directly across the tracks from the town) and behind the town.
Today, the train depot is used as a visitor's center for the New River Gorge National River. The entire town, including a part of the opposite riverbank, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You may even recognize Thurmond from the 1987 movie
Matewan, which was shot in Thurmond thanks to its barely-changed appearance of a 1920s coal town.
Have you ever explored the almost-abandoned Thurmond? What did you experience there? Do you think it’s haunted? Let us know in the comments.