Prince, WV (PRC)
Hwy 41 and County Road 25
near Depot Rd
Prince, WV 25907
Note: Fiscal year is from
October through September.
The first station at Prince, West Virginia, was built by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O, succeeded by CSXT) in 1880. This station was enlarged in 1891 to serve an expanding commercial freight and passenger need. In 1917, this wooden station was nearly destroyed in a fire, but was rebuilt soon afterwards.
The current station was part of the 1942 vision of C&O president Robert R. Young that consisted of a stylish, streamlined, and efficient passenger rail system. On June 26, 1946, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway opened the Art Moderne passenger depot at Prince. Noted for its sleek architectural features, it included a 500-foot waiting platform that was designed to be oriented such that during the winter, the sun would warm those who waited along the platform and inside the depot itself; while during the summer, it would provide shady relief from the heat. The depot was designed to serve the C&O’s newest daylight passenger train from Washington to Cincinnati, the Chessie—which never ran in regular service.
Prince had been selected as the prototype for this visionary station because it served a great many passengers from nearby Beckley and the most numerous between Clifton Forge and Charleston in that era. Beckley is still a thriving community, sitting atop a mountain plateau, rather than down in the relatively cramped and difficult-to-access environs of the river gorge where Prince lies.
The depot, at 125 feet long and 22 feet wide, was designed by the C&O and Garfield, Harris, Robinson and Schaffer of Cleveland, Ohio. The waiting room, with its terrazzo floor, still displays the Chessie kitten logo. The depot was built with tall ceilings and large windows that maximized the amount of sunlight that would enter during the day; modern toilets with ultraviolet lights; a ladies' lounge; and freight, baggage and express rooms. The building originally used radiant heating, where hot water from a coal-fired boiler piped heat through the floors and ceilings.
At one of the end station, there is a wall-length photo mural depicting mining activity and economic importance of coal to the railroad and the region. Today, many of those mines are closed, and the one depicted in the mural gone entirely, along with the depicted steam-powered trains. The mural remains as a tribute to the lives and labor of the region’s past.
When the railroad came through this part of the New River Gorge in 1873, William Prince, the local ferry owner, became involved in coal as a part-owner of the mine on the opposite banks of New River at Royal. In the 1890s, the Royal mining operation built a tipple and a battery of 78 coke ovens at Prince, just downstream of the Prince Depot. Coal was transported from the mine (on the south side) across the New River to the tipple (on the north side) using buckets suspended on a wire cable that spanned New River.
In the early days, Prince benefited from its location almost midway between the railroad's important branches on Piney Creek, which ascended into the highlands of central Raleigh County, and Laurel Creek, which ascended into the highlands of eastern Fayette County.
Prince, which is unincorporated, never has had much population, in part because of its location next to the gorge, the C&O route and the river and in part because the land of the town was owned by the Prince family—who preferred to rent, rather than to sell. The town never grew or expanded during the period of coal boom, with an estimated population of more 230 in 1910 and fewer than half of that number now. The very few businesses located in the town were owned by the Prince family.
However, the Prince station serves as the main depot for much of Fayette County, including the much more populous Beckley. Since Prince serves as the general hub for its area, it also provides access to many outdoor activities, including white water rafting on the New River and camping on the parts of Prince protected by the National Park Service. The closest services, including restaurants and lodging, are located in downtown Beckley.
The Chessie logo in the mosaic on the station’s terrazzo floor can be glimpsed when the Amtrak Cardinal makes its regular stop and its one of the most popular corporate symbols in American history. L.C. Probert, a C&O official charged with public relations and advertising, saw an etching in a newspaper of a cuddly little kitten sleeping under a blanket with a paw thrust contentedly forward. At the time, he was developing an ad campaign to popularize C&O's new air-conditioned sleeping car service, and hit upon the notion of using the kitten with the slogan "Sleep Like a Kitten and Wake Up Fresh as a Daisy in Air-Conditioned Comfort" for the C&O passenger ads.
Chessie's first appearance on behalf of C&O was in September, 1933 issue of Fortune magazine, in an ad that carried "Sleep Like a Kitten" as its slogan. So popular was the kitten logo that after Amtrak took over C&O’s passenger service in 1971, Chessie took on a new role, giving her name to the combined C&O, Baltimore & Ohio, and Western Maryland railways under Chessie System, and helped them sell their freight service. A later merger with the Family Lines railroads created CSX and led to Chessie’s retirement.
Amtrak provides ticketing and help with baggage at the staffed Prince station.
Prince has tri-weekly train service.
Federal law requires compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by 2010. The following is a list of items typically required for transportation and public facilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please check the regulations for guidance or contact us for more information.
|Train information display system|
|Visual paging system|
|ADA compliant elevator|
|Accessible ticket counter|
|Accessible Customer Service office|
|ADA compliant signage|
|Flashing/audible safety alarm system|