USA Travel Magazine

           West Virginia Travel Guide

Explore Thurmond Railroad Heritage Where The Coal Miners Played The Longest Poker Game And More Historic Towns

The historic towns of Southern West Virginia offer a glimpse into the past unlike any other. Stroll the streets of these historic towns and you'll embrace a piece of American history. Among these treasures is West Virginia's railroad heritage, which has been preserved by the National Park Service. For a great example of the life of those who owned and worked the early railways visit Thurmond, West Virginia. Once a bustling railroad town, Thurmond later became a ghost town after the coal was removed from the area. For a time, the bustling town thrived as the largest revenue on the C and O Railroad line because of the huge amounts of coal removed from the surrounding mountains.

During the week the town was fairly peaceful, with very few inhabitants, but on weekends it came to life as thousands of railway workers flocked to the city. The Dun Glen Hotel was the site of the world's longest poker game. The poker game, which lasted 14 years, was played on weekends. When the railroad workers had to return to their jobs, they laid their cards down on the table until the following Friday night when the game began again. Today you can tour a restored train depot that serves as a park visitor center and explore exhibits and historic furnishings bring the golden days of railroading back to life.

One of the richest towns in the United States was Bramwell, West Virginia. It is was once home to as many as fourteen millionaires during the early 20th century. Settled in 1885 by the Flat Top Coal Land Association, Bramwell flourished for many years. The wealthy enjoyed an activity social life in this bustling town with a busy train station and merchants until the early 1930's when the depression hit, resulting in the closing of the wealthy Bank of Bramwell. Visitors to Bramwell today find a town filled with well-preserved remnants of West Virginia's version of the "gilded age". Private home tours are available twice year for visitors to enjoy the splendor of the past and what was once the "the good life" in Bramwell.

As you continue on your trip in Southern West Virginia be sure to visit Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs, which are home to an abundance of Civil War history. Both armies crossed paths into the Greenbrier Valley, where many structures became make-shift hospitals and barracks. The Greenbrier Valley is also known for its "healing waters", prompting the construction of many spas and resorts. One of America's stately resorts of this golden age is The Greenbrier, a five-star resort and health clinic erected in the late 1700's. Visitors will find quaint antique and specialty shops, cheerful cafes and an old-town atmosphere on their tour through the historic area of Lewisburg. Southern West Virginia has such a rich history, and so many sites to see, which keeps us returning to explore more of the region!

By Iris Dean

Getting There:

Explore activities, events, attractions and more in the Thurmond area by visiting the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau at