In 1981, Lenny and I took a trip from New Jersey to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our son, Neil, was eight-years old and a great hiker. On the way, we spent a couple of days in West Virginia including taking a raft trip. Somehow, we landed in Thurmond and our jaws dropped. It was a ghost town with railroad tracks instead of a main street. Buildings stood empty and forlorn. What was this place?
This past weekend, we came back to Thurmond with our son and our oldest granddaughter. Now the railroad town is part of New River Gorge. In 1995, the NPS restored the railroad depot as a visitor center and put in lots of exhibits. But the rest of the town is the same.
At its heydays, Thurmond had two hotels, two banks and lots of other comforts for travelers. Now a few buildings are closed but still standing. The post office closed in 1995 and when the post office closes, so does the town. Still, three families still live up the hill from the main street.
Amtrak goes right through Thurmond on its way from New York to Chicago three times a week. The Amtrak schedule is posted on a fresh new board at the station. I doubt if anyone gets on or off in Thurmond but passengers must enjoy the ride through the gorge.
The visitor center is staffed by a volunteer. Yesterday was his last day before he goes back to Florida. So we were lucky to catch the visitor center open.
We took a hike on the Thurmond-Minden Trail and finally got down to the New River itself. Hannah played in the water for a short while.
Now three generations have seen Thurmond. To Preserve and Protect for Future Generations …