Caretta, West Virginia is a former company town in McDowell County. It is named after the transposed syllables of Mrs. Etta Carter, the wife of George Lafayette Carter, who founded Carter Coal.
Developed by George Carter, Caretta was initially known as Logging Camp No. 5,3 logs were delivered from the camp to the Norfolk & Western Railroad Dry Fork branch until a branch line was constructed from Juno. After the logging operations ceased, the Virginia Pocahontas Company attempted to develop an underground coal mining operation.
A post office opened April 8, 1905, during which time Caretta had a population of 300.3 A school was erected in 1907.
In 1922, coal operations were sold to the Consolidation Coal Company. The first underground mine shaft was constructed in 1924.1 Nearly 200 houses were constructed for the mine workers and their families, along with a 22-room boarding house, water treatment plant, sewage plant and power plant. A new, larger school for white children was completed in 1925.1
When Consolidated Coal went into default on March 16, 1933,1 2 Carter regained control of the Caretta operations. After Carter died in 1936, his son, James, took over operations. The town and coal mining operations were sold on December 22, 1947 to a group of industrialists from the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company, Interlake Iron Corporation, and the Steel Company of Canada, who formed the Olga Coal Company to manage the Caretta facilities.
In 1956, the Caretta mine was connected to the Coalwood mine, which was also owned by the Olga Coal Company. By the end of the decade, all coal was shipped via the tipple and processing plant at Caretta and operations at Coalwood were closed.1
The Caretta mine first closed in 1982 during an extensive coal industry slump, although it was reopened from 1983 to 1986.3