West Virginia and Ohio 2011: The Almost-Abandoned Coal Town of Thurmond, New River Bridge, Mill Creek Falls by Hawk's Nest
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Our West Virginia trip continued. After hiking near the New Rive by Hinton, we drove up to Thurmond, incorporated in 1900. Thurmond is an old boom town from the coal mining days, and was once a prosperous town until trains began using diesel.

Thurmond is not quite a ghost town since it has, according to the Park Service, a handful of residents. And they're civic-minded, these residents. During the June 14, 2005 city elections, six of the town's seven residents sought elected office.


Thurmond's massive old coal tipple, a structure once used to load coal into trains.

During our visit, at least four CSX trains thundered past. It's still quite active, and there's a train station where one can catch an Amtrak train to Washington D.C., Chicago, or many other destinations.

Today Thurmond is owned by the National Park Service for the New River Gorge National River. It is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.


Left, the underneath of the very large coal tipple that once was used to load coal into coal trains, which from the angle, looks like something out of "Logan's Run".

The entire town is a designated historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.


The old coal tipple in the background as another CSX train hurtles past.

Thurmond, West Virginia, a near ghost town, were it not for the seven or eight residents who still live there.

Thurmond, WV.

Thurmond, WV.

The Thurmond post office was established in 1888 and discontinued in 1995.

After exploring Thurmond and eating at Pies and Pints in Fayetteville, we decided to look at the nearby New River Gorge Bridge. With a length of 3030 feet (924 m), it was for many years the longest steel arch bridge in the world. It is now the third largest arch bridge in the world, and still the longest in the Western Hemisphere. Its arch extends 1700 feet (518 m). The structure was further immortalized when a depiction of the span was placed on the West Virginia state quarter.

Hawk's Nest, along the Rail Trail, a trail that begins at the bottom of the tram.

Although I had been coming to West Virginia for about ten years and knew that it was a beautiful state, I had no idea that it was this beautiful. In the New River Gorge area alone, there are countless trails, groves, cliffs, creeks, waterfalls, and more.

And speaking of waterfalls, Mill Creek Falls did not disappoint. Although a hot dry year, it was still flowing, the views well worth the slightly perilous descent into the gorge.

These falls, near Ansted in West Virginia, are about a 20 foot drop. Along the rail trail leading to the falls, we passed an old trestle bridge, the remains of an old water tower, and a side trail leading to an old mine.

Lisa by Mill Creek Falls, near Hawk's Nest.

Naturally, on the way back from Hawk's Nest, I bought another T-shirt from the Mystery Hole.

Earlier, I had mentioned that Lisa's father handcrafts Appalachian Walking Sticks. Here are four of them. He also makes canes, which actually sell more than the walking sticks.

50mm f/1.4 Nikkor lens for that oh-so-buttery bokeh.

To go to the next page, follow the zebra.

Ken's photos of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as photos of Peru, Burma, India, Morocco, China, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, and elsewhere, have appeared in many books, magazines, websites, and galleries.  Visit the Ken Lee Photography Website. Some of Ken's select photos may be purchased through his Imagekind Store.

Buy Ken's art at ImageKind.com.

West Virginia and Ohio 2011
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Bonus: Mary Wade's Column from the Times West Virginian, September 7 2011


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