In 1873 the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway mainline was completed – and Captain W.D. Thurmond acquired 73 acres on the north bank of the river along the railroad. During the early 1900s, Thurmond was the place to be.
Thurmond was the heart of the New River Gorge, carrying shipments of coal from the surrounding coalfields. With the huge amounts of coal brought in from area mines, it had the largest revenue on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.
Fifteen passenger trains a day came through town-its depot serving as many as 95,000 passengers a year. At it’s peak, Thurmond had two hotels, two banks, restaurants, clothing stores, a jewelry store, movie theatre, several dry-good stores, and many business offices – including a detective agency and a photographer. The town’s stores and saloons did a remarkable business, and its hotels and boarding houses were constantly overflowing
With the onset of the Great Depression, several businesses closed, including the National Bank of Thurmond. The town’s economic vitality waned after two large fires wiped out several major businesses.