Things To Do
A trip to Thurmond will not be complete unless you……
Visit the Historic Thurmond Depot
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.
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?
Watch the trains
Plan on stopping at the picnic tables next to town hall to just sit and watch the trains as they roll through the New River Gorge.
Please remember these are active tracks.
Take a Hike
Would you like to see where the houses in Thurmond are? Park at the Train Station. Cross the tracks, remember they are still used. Take the road up the hill to the right. If you stay on this road you will pass the Thurmond Union Church (used in the movie Matewan). Walking on this road will take you past homes where people still live and homes that have been restored by the National Park Service. Make sure and take the left road option whenever you can and you will make a loop that brings you back to Main Street.
The Rend Trail is a 3.4 mile easy hiking/biking. An easy stroll or bike along an abondoned branch line of the C&O Railway. This predoinantly level trail crosses five railroad trestles. Several overlooks provide scenic views of Thurmond and the New River. From US 19 north of Beckley, take the Glen Jean-Thurmond exit. Take an immediate left, and go 0.5 miles to Glen Jean. Take a right and follow the signs to Thurmond (WV Rt 25). The Trailhead is on the left, 5.1 miles down Rt. 25.
Other trails in the area near Thurmond are the:
Dunloup Creek Trail 0.5 miles moderate hiking. Located 0.4 miles from the Thurmond Trailhead, this trail follows a railroad grade down to Southside Junction. To stay clear of the active railroad tracks, take a short climb up past a historic church, and back down to join the Brooklyn- Southside Junction Trail.
Arbuckle Connector 0.3 miles difficult hiking. This trail is located 1.2 miles from the Thurmond Trailhead. Just past the third trestle, this trail drops off to the right. It has some steep and rocky terrain, and provides glimpses of some of the stonework and coke ovens of the mining town of WeeWin. It also connects with the Brooklyn-Southside Junction Trail near the mouth of Arbuckle Creek.
Brooklyn-Southside Junction Trail 6 miles moderate hiking/biking. This riverside trail provides great views of the New River and passes through some of the New River Gorge’s abandoned mining towns. Rush Run, Red Ash and Brooklyn were all once bustling communities located along this abandoned rail line. The first 1.8 miles from the Cunard River Access are open to motorized vehicles. A parking area at Brooklun marks the end of the maintained road.
Stone Cliff Trail 2.7 miles moderate hiking/biking. This rugged trail follows an old road along the banks of the New River. Great views and easy access to the river are available along this trail.
(All trail distances are one- way)
Walk Across the Thurmond Bridge
While it is not the New River Gorge Bridge, it is still fun to walk over the Thurmond bridge and look down through the grates to the river below. Just make sure you watch for vehicles as this is still the road into Thurmond.
Visit the Dun Glen Day Use Area
Across the bridge you will find the National Park Service’s Dun Glen Day Use area. Here is the opportunity to sit by the river and dangle your feet in the water.