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West Virginia Ghost Towns

West Virginia is spotted with ghost towns, not of the haunted variety, but deserted.

Thurmond, West Virginia

Coal and timber boom towns along railways, river shores and forgotten timber roads have left fragmented structures that outlived the resources around which the towns sprung up. Boom and Bust are an understood part of the industries even today, some Appalachian communities continue on a slow death march toward ghost town status as timber companies and coal mine operations close or relocate. A look through ones Appalachian family history reveals names of towns that cannot be located on modern maps; we must dig deeper for clues to figure approximately where they once lay.

Thoughtfully exploring where people once busily lived their lives carrying out daily routines, now reclaimed by nature and her elements and forgotten by human recollection, ruins are truly exciting to come across while walking through the woods. Standing stone fireplaces and chimney stacks, moss covered limestone block foundations, long lines of coke ovens, or forgotten family cemeteries marked with indiscernible head stones are all exciting rediscoveries.

The climate here is not favorable to natural preservation as it is in the more arid western U.S. Luckily, we are located next The New River Gorge National Park, and we have a few ghost towns preserved to help tell the story of West Virginian history that has shaped Appalachian lives and culture to this day. The mine towns of Kaymoor and Thurmond are good examples. Both are just around the corner from Opossum Creek Retreat Cabin Rentals, and every bit worth the trip. In February 2011, Travel + Leisure Magazine listed Thurmond as one of Americas Coolest Ghost Towns.

Kaymoor West Virginia

Opossum Creek Retreat has an enchanting link to Thurmond that puts me in mind of Pinocchio. The story begins about 80 years ago with a couple of white pine saplings sprouting in Thurmond while it was still a booming town. No one can know the untold stories that took place under and around the evergreens through their many seasons, but they stood witness as the town prospered, diminished, and was ultimately preserved.

To gain safe access with the least environmental impact in the removal of a dilapidated search and rescue building, the trees were sacrificed but not wasted. Geoff and Keith took the trees home, milled, stacked and dried the lumber. After a patient and painstaking two-year process, the stately timber was transformed into handsome handcrafted tables to be set in The Meadows great room where stories will be shared and countless stories will be made.

Where have you rediscovered the remains of a ghost town?April 2011

1 Comment

  • Rose Edington says:

    I was looking for Nat, WV, in Mason County, the birthplace of my father Gordon Edington, but could not find it in ghost towns. Also, Capehart, in Mason County where my grandfather had a general store; and for the pre-Civil War town of Bingaman — I don’t know the county. It was the birthplace of Universalist minister Quillen Shinn.

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