If you look at a map of the U.S. state of Maryland, you will see that the western border of the state has a point at the south end. This point points to the town of Thomas, West Virginia. When you visit the town today, you will see a town that rests on a hill with the Blackwater River flowing through the valley below with the mountains of West Virginia surrounding it. It is a small and quiet town, but it is a town that is truly a West Virginia town.
Some of you are saying, “I love small towns, and I love West Virginia. The problem is that there are no railroads in this town. Therefore, I will not be in this town.”
If you visit the town of Thomas, West Virginia today, you will see a quiet, peaceful town… with no railroads. It was much different many years ago.
Thomas, West Virginia was a bustling coal mining town. With much of the coal mining came railroads, and the railroad was a big part of Thomas. It is named for Thomas Beall Davis whose brother was a U.S. Senator. Thomas Beall Davis opened a mine in the area, and he used the railroad to ship the coal to factories in the region. Mining in the area ceased in 1921.
In 1901, a fire burned half of the town, but it was put out two hours later. New buildings were built to include an opera house with an elegant saloon. Also, the Western Maryland Railway built an elegant train depot which was declared the grandest train depot between Cumberland, Maryland and Elkins, West Virginia. Sadly, the depot was destroyed by a tornado in 1944, and it was never rebuilt.
As industry declined in the region, so did the railroad. The tracks were taken up in the early 1990’s.
Today, when you visit the town of Thomas, you can walk where a railroad yard once stood in the valley below. You can hike and bike the Allegheny Rail Trail which now runs along the original railroad bed of the Western Maryland Railway. You can drive along the old railroad bed and drive across an old railroad bridge to hike your way to Douglas Falls. While on the road, you will drive past the ruins of coke ovens. While there, visit the old general store which is now an art gallery. As you feel the quiet and tranquility, you will also feel the hustle and bustle of a town that once was.
The town of Thomas, West Virginia is located in the northeastern region of the U.S. state of West Virginia at the western point of the U.S. state of Maryland. The town center is on the National Register of Historic Places. U.S. Route 219 passes just north of the town with West Virginia Route 32 going south from U.S. Route 219 through the historic town.
4 thoughts on “Thomas, West Virginia”
Reblogged this on John Cowgill's Literature Site.
Very interesting. I knew a man who worked his whole life in a coal mine. I can’t even imagine doing that, being underground all day. What is a coke oven?
I have never heard of that before. It’s too bad they didn’t keep some of the trains on display. My husband just looked up and found what the coke ovens were. Not a good thing to be around a class a DPA kind of Waze site danger hazard to peoples house so I’m glad they don’t have those anymore. But I certainly learned something today. Hope you’re doing well and taking good care of yourself thank you for the interesting post. Sending much love and many warm hugs Joni
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Coke is a kind of coal. A coke oven is used to make it hot enough to melt it, and it can be shaped into anything.
Coal mines are safer today than they were in the past, but they did work underground all day.
As for trains on display, it is normally up to the town and the railroad company to have trains on display.