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By Bonnie Stinson
Updated on Jun 1, 2022
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content.
If you want to have a memorable adventure, this state’s ghost towns are the perfect haunted destinations. From abandoned coal mining communities to the Sin City of West Virginia, each town on this list guarantees that you’ll discover something creepy and unusual.
Head to the New River Gorge area and come face-to-face with abandoned mining facilities. Make the trek up the mountain to Kayford and honor the resilience of the Stanley family.
Wherever you go, drive carefully. These are remote areas and unstable territories. While a few are still populated, you shouldn’t expect to find public restrooms or vending machines in any of these destinations.
Before you go, make sure your car insurance policy has you covered. An exciting encounter with a ghost is one thing—an uninsured accident on a remote backroad is way worse. Jerry can help sort you out before you leave home.
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What is the story of Nuttallburg?
Named by John Nuttall in 1870, the ghost town of Nuttallburg is a former town and coal mining complex in the New River Gorge area. Nuttall anticipated that the railroad would come to the New River region, and he built a coal facility nearby.
His gamble paid off. Nuttallburg grew to regional prominence through shipping “smokeless” coal to cities hundreds of miles away. The town included two active mines located near Keeney’s Creek, New River, and Short Creek in West Virginia.
Nuttall, the founder, died in 1897—but the town continued to grow. In 1899, the Roebling Bridge Company built a suspension bridge across the New River. In the 1920s, Henry Ford even leased the mines to deliver coal to his steel mills in Michigan. At its peak, there were 100 houses in Nuttallburg.
In 1928, Nuttallburg shut down. The mine was finally covered in 1958 but the facilities remain standing, covered with vines and foliage. Onsite are old brick ovens, railroad tracks, and the remains of the original processing facility.
Set in a gorgeous, green river gorge, this is one of the most scenic ghost town destinations in the state. It has been owned by the National Park Service since 1998.
The town has been completely abandoned since the early 20th century but it’s still accessible to hikers.
What makes Nuttallburg special?
Some ghost towns are so empty that it’s hard to imagine how they used to look. Nuttallburg is not like that. Nuttalburg has:
- Visible foundations with well-labeled signs
- Challenging hikes and rewards of a gorgeous river rapid
- Old railroad tracks buried in the hillside
- Remains of brick coke ovens and the overgrown processing facility
It’s safe to visit this West Virginia ghost town. Thanks to the hard work of the National Park Service, you will be able to explore this destination for many years to come.
Pro Tip The Nuttallburg Coal Tipple is a stunning backdrop for photos—bring your good camera!
How to visit Nuttallburg
Nuttallburg is one hour and 30 minutes from Charleston, WV, and three hours from Roanoke, Virginia. Set your GPS for the Nuttallburg Coal Tipple or check out the official guide.
Take US-60. When you reach Lookout, turn west onto Edmond-Lansing Road. You’ll parallel Keeney’s Creek for a few miles before you arrive at the Nuttallburg parking lot.
Once you arrive, you can choose from three trails: Tipple Trail, Conveyor Trail, and Town Loop Trail. Each will take you past a different area of the ghost town.
MORE: Road trip essentials
What is the story of Kaymoor?
If you love abandoned architecture and the illusion of danger, then you’ll love Kaymoor.
Kaymoor was one of the most productive coal mining towns in all of West Virginia. In its 60 years of operation, Kaymoor produced nearly 16 million tons of coal. The area included a tipple, a plant, and coke ovens.
Kaymoor’s location attracted a wide diversity of miners, including out-of-state miners, Black miners, and European immigrants. At its peak, the Kaymoor mines employed 800 workers.
The endpoint for the goods was Kaymoor Top, located at the top of the ridge. Kaymoor Bottom housed the workers and the processing plant, near the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.
In 1952, the majority of Kaymoor shut down. A fire burned through the remaining buildings in 1960, and in 1962 the mine was completely sealed shut.
Today, Kaymoor includes the ruins of old houses, the sealed coal mine entrance, and the overgrown facility. Visitors can access the ghost town by several hiking trails.
What makes Kaymoor special?
This area is very popular with locals—and not just because of its haunted history. The town includes:
- 821 stairs lead you into the abandoned mining area (just prepare for a serious leg workout)
- Historic signs are set into the hillside with warnings for miners
- Fayetteville, WV, is only seven minutes away from the trailhead for the Kaymoor Miners Trail
- The view over the New River is stunning in every season
Prepare yourself for a strenuous two-mile hike if you want the best views and the creepiest vibes. If you need a rest when you’re done, check out the Cathedral Cafe or Pies & Pints in town for a refreshing drink.
Pro Tip The ghost town of Kaymoor is not accessible via car.
How to visit Kaymoor
Set your GPS to the Kaymoor Miners Trailhead, only a seven-minute drive from Fayetteville, WV.
Take S Court Street and turn left at Gatewood Road (Route 9). You’ll weave through the hills for a few miles. Turn left onto Kaymoor Road then keep left. Park your vehicle in the Kaymoor parking lot.
What is the story of Kayford?
Now a crumbling mountainside town, Kayford was a thriving mining community for over 200 years. There are more gravestones than residents in Kayford today.
Kayford’s story begins and ends with mountain-top removal (MTR).
The type of coal mining used in Kayford required fewer workers, dooming Kayford to economic failure from day one. In addition, coal dust is extremely toxic—and mountain-top removal exposes coal dust to the weather.
After many years of generational health problems, the mining site was condemned. Unfortunately, the damage was already done.
Today, the streams in Kayford run brown with coal refuse. Not far from the MTR site are cemeteries full of families who died here. Since some of the tombs are not clearly marked, it’s likely that the mining disturbed some of the graves.
Unstable ground and health threats have made this area a ghost town.
One family remains staunchly committed to life on the mountain. The Stanley family has lived in Kayford for seven generations. Part of the Stanleys’ land is a public park, open for all who wish to remember what the mountain used to be.
What makes Kayford special?
Is there anything more ghostly than disturbed graves and multinational corporations? Kayford is pretty much Ghostbusters meets Erin Brokovich.
- The old Samples Mine is a stunning pockmark on the face of the mountain
- Time your visit to a community gathering hosted by the Stanley heirs
- Book a visit with Friends of the Mountains to get an insider experience
- Cracks in the ground signify unstable areas due to mine explosions
Be sensitive when exploring Kayford. While it’s fun to traipse around an abandoned town, Kayford caused real heartbreak for many families. Follow local guidelines and respect the cemeteries.
Pro Tip Here’s a fascinating audio interview with the Stanley family of Kayford, West Virginia.
How to visit Kayford
Start your explorations at the Stanley Heirs Park. You’ll have 50 acres to explore under the watchful eyes of the trustees, who look after what’s left of the mountain.
The nearest town is Whitesville. Head east toward Dorothy and then turn left up Kayford Mountain Road for about 30 minutes until you reach the park.
It’s wise to call ahead. You will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to safely reach the mountain. There is a covered picnic shelter and occasional scheduled events.
What is the story of Thurmond?
Now popular among millennial river rafters, Thurmond was a booming coal town in the early 1900s.
Thurmond is located in a region with extremely rich coal deposits. When the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad was built, business got even better. During this time, fifteen passenger trains traveled through Thurmond each day. Saloons and lodging houses were constantly full. A freight station, sand tower, engine house, and water tank were constructed.
One of the most famous businesses in Thurmond was the Dunglen Hotel and Casino. If West Virginia had a mobster central, Dunglen was it. Booze, gambling, and other illegal activities were a common sight here—and they brought even more wealth into the city.
In 1930, the famous hotel burned to the ground. Soon, diesel locomotives overtook coal-powered trains and Thurmond’s fortunes withered away. With no need for coal—and no more fancy hotel—why would anyone come to Thurmond?
Today, Thurmond’s population is five (sometimes six). Old structures are visible to the naked eye and, if you bring a river raft, you can cross the river to see the site of the old hotel.
What makes Thurmond special?
Thurmond was once the life of the party in West Virginia. People came from out-of-state to have a rip-roaring good time at the Dunglen Hotel. This is a one-of-a-kind ghost town that’s well worth your time.
- River raft on the New River by booking an excursion with a local company
- Take the Amtrak into Thurmond and spend the day strolling the old riverside town
- Explore the former site of the sinful Dunglen Hotel, where $2.50 used to be enough to buy a hotel room
- Look closely at various structures in town—you might spot reused materials from the original hotel
- The abandoned Thurmond town hall is delightfully moldy and abandoned
If you want to get a peek of the town from above, drive to the Concho Rim Overlook in Oak Hill via US-19. It’s a short 0.3-mile trail out to a stunning vista down to Thurmond and the rounded New River below.
How to visit Thurmond
Thurmond is a 20-minute drive from Glen Jean. Drive carefully, as Route 25 (Thurmond Road) is narrow and winding.
One option is to park at the Thurmond Trailhead if you want to explore the woods on foot. Another option is to set your GPS to the old Thurmond town hall. You’ll cross the New River on a beautiful old bridge and then you can park anywhere in town.
Finding affordable car insurance
The state of West Virginia is full of ghosts. It’s also full of potholes, unfortunately.
If you are planning to explore a remote ghost town, it’s smart to have great car insurance. Get protection before your next adventure. Jerry can help you find a great policy with the coverage you need—so you don’t have to call your mom if you run into trouble.
If you already have coverage, Jerry can save you money by comparing rates from other providers. The average Jerry user saves nearly $900 a year!
“I love how easy it was for me, as someone who has an older beat-up truck, to get insurance without going through a lot of trouble. I would recommend anyone try Jerry since it’s free!” —Melissa I.
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