The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Category:Ghost Towns of the New River Gorge

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While it's true that ghost towns may be found throughout West Virginia, no where else in the state will you find a contiguous string of abandoned settlements as large as in the New River Gorge. A string of more than 50 such towns follows the New River through its gorge and is perhaps the best known ghost town region in the state.

Visiting the Ghost Towns

Our map of ghost towns along New River plots their approximate locations. Although access is challenging, many are visited every year by paddlers via the New River and by hikers and bikers who reach the towns via the national park service's trail network. Many outfitters offer guided ghost town tours, and a visit is often among the highlights of a whitewater rafting trip on the New River. Thurmond, perhaps the best known, is still inhabited (pop. 7 in 2000). Ruins exist in many localities, such as at Sewell, WV, where walls of stone rise amid the forest. Park rangers reminds visitors that such sites are federally protected as part of the New River Gorge National River: nothing should be moved or removed.

Development of New River Gorge Towns

Most communities in the gorge were "company towns" founded by coal mining interests between 1873, the year the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) was completed, and 1910. The railroad used the gorge as part of its route between Atlantic coast and the Ohio River Valley. West Virginia's coal production averaged about 600,000 tons annually in 1870, but in 1874 production nearly doubled, largely due to the opening of mines in the New River Coal Field. In 1888, Fayette County, in which all of the mines of the New River Gorge then open were located, produced 1,522,430 tons of coal -- the first county in the state to produce a million tons in one year. By 1903, the fifty-six mines located on the C&O between Prince and Hawks Nest were producing nearly a third of the coal mined in West Virginia. However, the gorge's steep slopes and its narrow width made for a low return on investment. As seams began to work-out in the 1930s, mines in the gorge began to close. By the 1950s, most, along with their companion communities, had been abandoned. Only stone walls and foundations remain at many, though Prince, Terry, Thayer, and Thurmond are still inhabited.

Pages in category "Ghost Towns of the New River Gorge"

The following 64 pages are in this category, out of 64 total.