Amtrak provides regular rail service to all of the largest cities in the United States as well as a significant number of more moderately sized ones. Trains also pick up and drop off passengers at much smaller towns that the rain lines happen to go through. However, none of them are smaller than Thurmond, W.Va., which is located 60 miles southeast of Charleston and has a population of five.
This community used to be home to a much larger population base. The 1930 census revealed that 462 lived here. However, it started dropping in the coming decades, falling to double digits (86) in 1970 and single digits (7) in 2000. Its post office, which had opened in 1888, closed in 1995. The reason for the original rise in population was due to how prosperous coal mining was in the area and the drop thanks to coal mining not being nearly as prosperous in the years that followed.
Prior to 1921, the only way in and out of Thurmond was by rail, and this stop used to be an important one on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. During its heyday, more freight was handled here than in Cincinnati and Richmond, Va., combined. About 95,000 passengers went through this depot yearly, an average of 260 a day. Times have sure changed. Today, Thurmond annually battles with Sanderson, Texas, as the least-used station on the Amtrak network. Now the annual ridership is 345, an average of less than one a day.
Amtrak trains stop in Thurmond every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Those heading from Chicago to New York pick up and drop off passengers at 9:41 a.m., if there are any, while trains traveling in the opposite direction go through the area at 6:59 p.m., providing people traveling from the west an opportunity to explore the area for nine mostly daylight hours.