Dunglen Hotel, Fayette County, New River Gorge National River, Thomas Gaylord McKell, Thurmond, west virginia
Historic Dun Glen Hotel Site Soon Accessible
A new recreational trail built by the National Park Service is expected to make a long-lost historical site accessible to hikers. The Dun Glen Hotel was lost to a fire in 1930; however, it remained a popular, albeit inaccessible, hiking destination for history buffs and paranormal investigators. Soon, this may change.
The Dun Glen (Dunglen) Hotel was dubbed the “Waldorf of the Mountains.” Alcohol flowed freely in this 4 ½ story, 100-room hotel situated on the New River, across from the dry town of Thurmond, Fayette County, West Virginia. Thomas (Tom) Gaylord McKell built the hotel intending to take advantage of the highly profitable adjacent coal mines and railroad. Opening in 1901, the hotel boasted three floors of guest rooms, a wrap-around verandah, and basement showrooms. And the wealthy guests arrived.
Within a few years, Tom McKell opened the New River Banking & Trust Company on August 11, 1904. Sadly, McKell died shortly thereafter on September 7, 1904 at the age of 59. His son William McKell took over operations.
On July 22, 1930, a devastating fire broke out and destroyed the hotel. Although no guests were injured, George Richardson and Stephen Thomas suffered minor burns. According to the Raleigh Register, the fire consumed the building, including the Earl Nichols grocery and soda counter, located in the terrace basement. Faulty electrical wiring was blamed. Damages totaled $100,000, roughly $1.5 million in today’s dollars. William McKell did not rebuild and abandoned the property.
Today the property sits within the New River Gorge National River park. The park service owns and operates the town of Thurmond as a national historic location. However, the Dun Glen area was left to nature. The new trail has been enthusiastically received. Next summer I will travel back up to Fayette County to check on the progress. I’ll keep you posted.
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