West Virginia Steam Trains

Lost and Found Sound -- Stories and Sounds from Ghost Towns

A map of West Virginia showing Cass and Thurmond

West Virginia steam train towns hide caption

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From the 1870s through the 1950's, steam locomotives pulled long trains through the mountains of West Virginia, trailing plumes of gray smoke. After most of the coal was mined, and the more efficient diesel electric engines arrived, many of the towns along the C&O line disappeared. But distant sounds of steam locamotive whistles can still be heard in some parts of the state. In this edition of Lost and Found Sound, NPR’s Noah Adams said those sounds echo across the landscape like the sound of a century passing.

Adams visited Thurmond, a legendary train town, that once had 500 people and now is down to seven. To hear one of the few steam engines still running, he traveled to the restored lumber town of Cass, West Virginia, for a trip up Cheat Mountain. Bill Deputy was along to record stereo sound, and Debra Schifrin to put the story together.


Produced by Debra Schiffrin. Engineered by Bill Deputy.

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