New River Gorge National River
ó National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior ó
Look down the railroad tracks. You might see a train coming. But if you do, you wonít see an engine fueled by coal, belching smoke and steam, as you would have during Thurmondís heyday. Instead, you will see an engine powered with diesel fuel.
Thurmond was a rail center, with a steam engine repair shop that employed up to 175 workers. But when the C&O Railway switched to diesel in the mid-1950s, the need for Thurmondís repair shop lessened. Combined with the decline of coal mining, the arrival of diesel brought Thurmondís golden era to an end.
Diesel Versus Steam
Why did rail lines switch from steam to diesel? Money, of course. In 1955 alone, diesels saved the C&O Railway 28 percent in operating costs, or $25 million. Diesels could start at the flip of a switch, travel long distances without costly repairs, and were more fuel efficient. They required fewer workers, too. Two men working a diesel replaced six on a heavy steam engine. Gone were machinists, boilermakers, and pipefitters. Gone, too, were repair centers like Thurmond.
Erected by National Park
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars.
Location. 37° 57.534′ N, 81° 4.824′ W. Marker is in Thurmond, West Virginia, in Fayette County. Marker is on Thurmond Road. The marker is in old town. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 144 County Rte 25/2, Thurmond WV 25936, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Heart of Town (here, next to this marker); The Railroad Was the Town (here, next to this marker); Changing Town (within shouting distance of this marker); A Town Built on Top of Itself (within shouting distance of this marker); Fueling Up Trains (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Railroad Town (about 700 feet away); Thurmond, West Virginia (about 700 feet away); a different marker also named Thurmond, West Virginia (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Thurmond.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 14, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 27, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 221 times since then and 15 times this year. Last updated on January 14, 2021, by TeamOHE of Wauseon, Ohio. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 27, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.