|Coaling Tower, Built 1922 and abandoned in 1960|
|The engineers waved and honked the horn a few extra times.|
Until 1921 there was no road going into Thurmond, the only way in or out was by rail owned by the C&O company. At Thurmond's peak, the town could boast two hotels, two banks, clothing stores, a jewelry store, business offices, a movie theater, several restaurants, dry-goods stores and a small meat packing plant. The great depression and the switch from steam engines to diesel in the 1940s ensured the slow decline of Thurmont. Steam trains needed to stop more often to take on coal and water and this was a coal town in addition.
Today there is nothing open in town except for the Ranger Station. The US Post Office closed in 1995.
The rail lines are still in use by CSX, RJ Corman and Amtrak.
The single road going into and out of the "town" is an old railbed thinly paved over. There is no guardrail to stop someone from going into a large creek (Dunloup Creek) that feeds into New River flowing past Thurmond. The bridge was first built as a rail bridge in 1915 and the road deck was added on in 1921. Needless to say, the structural integrity of the bridge was on my mind both times I crossed the bluish white river. The snow melt had turned the river a cloudy white and made it look even more menacing. The road deck was an open steel mesh and was barely wide enough for my FJ Cruiser......
In the 80s the film "Matewan" about the West Virginia coal wars was filmed here as a stand in for the real Matewan 100 miles to the east. You will see the coal tower and "downtown" in the gun battle scene.