Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 13, 1975 · Page 25
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 25

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 13, 1975
Page 25
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Weatherbeaten Sign Typical of Town Throngs Once Crowded Train Station A Breath of New Life InFayette Ghost Town By Delmer Robinson boom town: for instance it was the site of '15 year poker game," that attracted THURMOND-This famous New River ghost town isn't quite so ghostly now. And the faint stirrings of life could be the forerunner of greater activity in the future. A unique restaurant, housed in in an old abandoned bank, is now in its first full tourist season and is attracting visitors from a wide area. Many of its customers are participants in the raft trips in the turbulent New River gorge sponsored by Wildwater Expeditions Unlimited. The restaurant, appropriately enough considering its location/is named the "Bankers Club. It is owned by Dr. H. B, Wurst of Bradley and W. E. Pugh. Pugh was recently elected mayor of Thurmond in a landslide victory, receiving all 19 of the votes cast. Mrs. Jackie Pugh, a warmly pleasant woman, manages the club, and a former army cook, Richard Wilson, is chef. Mr. and Mrs. Pugh have refurbished seven of the rooms in the building and are preparing nine more rooms for occupancy. "We have had special parties from Washington^ including security agents, for extended stays, and later this year we will . be serving parties of SO to 60 people in the dining room," Mrs. Pugh said. Much of the hotel trade is from people taking the, two-day Whitewater trip who do not : wish : t tp trough it" further by sleeping out. ; Prices at the club;arereasonable-rang- ':: ing from $6.95 for a New York strip steak, dinner including vegetable, potato and sal-: ;.'· ad, to $3.25 for a spaghetti dinner with ^ilar-awpmpanimeht.'V' J ;;· ? " A surprisihgly good teriyaki steak sandwich is offered at $2. This is of rib eye or . Delmonico steak, marinated in a soy - £·' sauce combination. Other low-cost sand'*': wiches include a grilled cheese at 50 cents and a cheeseburger at 85 cents./Evening "·:''. meals and breakfasts are served. ; As with all of Fayett? County-, the open- ';··· ing of the New River bridjge in two years is {j expected to bring another influx of tourists r -to the Thurmond area.;; But even now people are making special ?;V visits to the former coal mine boom town, ',- their interest piqued by a television docu- · ! mentary made by a crew from station 'r WSOC in Charlotte, N. C. and later aired '·;. by^WQHS: ··· ··. ,·. ' . , ' : : i ' . - . '.'.'.,·· ' ' ' ·: But hot in their wildest imaginings do local people expect a return to boom times ;· that made Thurmond the coal, railroad-and gambling--capital of the state. Otis K. Rice, in his history of the New River Gorge area; writes: "In 1910 the railway : .: station at Thurmond handled 4,283,681 tons of freight, the revenue from ··;· which amounted to $4,824,911.77. In addi: tion, 76,541 passengers boarded or got off the trains there. These figures become all the more impressive when it is noted that the total freight traffic on the Chesapeake . and Ohio Railway in 1910 amounted to only $24,901,199, which meant that Thurmond - accounted for slightly less than 20 per cent of the total value of the freight carried by the railroad that year." There are livelier statistics about the gamblers from all over the country. It-was an early victim of a "bad press." Stories about gambling and murders and general hell-raising were filed with a Thurmond dateline, because that was the location of the telegraph office. But the legendary Dun Glen hotel, site of the gambling, was beyond the "city limits" of Thurmond as incorporated by Capt. William D. Thurmond. And many of the murders occurred in a "suburb," Ballyhack, according to one local historian. But murders did occur. One Cincinnati newspaper reported that 14 murders were committed in Fayette County in a single week, and termed it the ""meanest county!'in the United States. ' Thurmond's police officer, Harrison Ash, reportedly killed seven men in the course of his duties. No wonder Thurmond was called the "Dodge City of the East." Chart 1C lirgima -July 13,1975 Photos By Lewis Raines Rail Yards Aren't Really This Curvy Telescope Lens Foreshortens Picture No, It's Not the South Bronx in New York City Gaping Front of Building in Thurmond Counter Holds Menus, Not Deposit Slips Mrs. Jackie Pugh Manages Restaurant And Hotel Rooms Are Being Fixed Up Beyori the Riin, the Trees Towe* Interest Renewedin Dilapidated Building

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