Caretta, West Virginia is a company town located in McDowell County, and was initially logging Camp No. 5.3 Logs were delivered to the Norfolk & Western Dry Fork branch approximately two miles south until the Caretta Branch was constructed from Juno north. When that was finished, the Virginia Pocahontas developed a mining operation at Caretta.
The town was named Caretta after the transposed syllables of Mrs. Etta Carter, the wife of George Lafayette Carter, who founded Carter Coal. The first post office was applied for on April 8, 1905, during which time Caretta had a population of 300.3 A school was constructed two years later.
In 1922, the operations were sold to the Consolidation Coal Company, and two years after, the first mine shaft was constructed.1 At least 200 houses were constructed for Caretta, along with a 22-room boarding house, water treatment plant, sewage plant and power plant. A new school for white children was completed in 1925.1
Consolidated went into default on March 16, 1933 1 2 and Carter regained control of the Caretta operations. After Carter died in 1936, his son James took over operations until 1947, when the operations and town were sold to a group of industrialists from Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company, Interlake Iron Corporation, and the Steel Company of Canada who renamed the company to the Olga Coal Company, founded December 22.
In 1956, the Caretta mine was connected to the Coalwood mine, which was also owned by Olga. By the end of the decade, all coal was being shipped via the tipple and processing plant at Caretta, and the operations at Coalwood were closed.1
The mines at Caretta produced a steady amount of coal annually, although employment went down throughout the latter half of the 20th century.3 This did not correspond to lower production numbers due to an increased reliance on technology, ending at the coal market bust in 1982 that resulted in a 33% reduction in demand. When the mine was reopened in 1983, the amount of miners needed was far fewer, and the operations lingered on for three more years before closing for good.
- Name: Caretta, West Virginia
- Years of Significance: 1905, 1922
- “History Timeline.” Coalwood, West Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2011. Article.
- McGehee, Stuart. “Historic Coalwood.” Goldenseal Summer 2001: 52-56. Print.
- Schust, Alex P. “Caretta (Juno).” Billion Dollar Coalfield. Ed. Linda Graves. Harwood, MD: Two Mule Publishing, 2010. 506-511. Print.