The History Of Prince, WVMarch 14, 2013
Take a throwback journey down the tracks to Prince, WV, just outside of the bustling city of Beckley and the outdoor playground of the New River Gorge.
Situated along major lines during the coal boom, the once family-owned town of Prince has never been built for much more than passing through. But it serves as a portal to West Virginia’s finest urban and outdoor destinations.
Stow away on a rail car to Prince to see what the forward-thinking C&O Railroad executives of the 1940’s knew would capture the crowds of the future— kittens and art deco.
The C&O updated Prince’s small, wooden rail station in ’42 to be more modern to serve its newest train line, the Chessie. The Chessie’s logo, which can still be seen at the station, depicts a kitten snuggled under a blanket. “Sleep Like a Kitten, and Wake Up Fresh as a Daisy in Air-Conditioned Comfort,” read the advertisements pitching the line’s overnight runs.
The other unique attractor in Prince is the simple and stylish station’s art deco design, with huge windows and minimalist structure.
It’s attractive design wasn’t just about form; it was also well-constructed for function. The designers wanted to create a streamlined, efficient system for rail riders. The station’s canopy is crafted to channel the sun to heat passengers in the winter, but shade them during scorching summer months.
One of the walls does pop more than the others. That’s because it’s plastered with a mural to pay tribute to the Mountain State’s major industry, coal, and the miners who risk their lives to dig underground.
Prince’s remodel helped it become a mainstay travel option for the area. In addition to serving the Beckley metro area, the surrounding New River Gorge is a popular destination for adventure-seekers. You can easily spend a day shopping in the city (being sure to check out Tamarack, a showcase of the state’s best arts, crafts and goods), then hop on a mountain bike and trek through the forest or hook your harness into a treetop zipline.
Parts of Prince have been protected by the National Park Service as part of the New River Gorge National River. Three park service camping areas are located near the Prince station, and hiking, biking, kayaking, and float-fishing are popular outdoor sports that draw visitors to the area.
So what are you waiting for? Your trip starts with a train ticket. Hop onto Amtrak and get your rail pass.