Coalwood, West Virginia is a former company town founded by George Carter of the Carter Coal Company in 1905.1 6
The first permanent settlement of the Clear Fork Branch Creek region was the community of Snakeroot at the junction of Wolfpen Branch and Clear Fork Branch.1 6 A post office for Snakeroot was established on September 20, 1869. The Coalwood post office was founded on March 12, 1903, the same year that George Carter founded the Carter Coal Company and acquired 20,000 acres of land for future underground coal mines.
In 1904, work began on constructing the West Virginia Southwestern Railway from its junction with the Norfolk & Western Railroad (N&W) at Gordon along the Tug Fork west of Roderfield.4 5 The 9.93-mile branch was completed to Coalwood on April 10, 1905 and was operated by the N&W as their Clear Fork Branch. The first shaft coal mine in Coalwood opened in 1914.
Coalwood had over 2,000 residents under Carter’s reign, employed in the coal mines, schools, company stories, churches and hospital.3 Dental services were free, subsidized by the Carter Coal Company.2
Carter sold the mining operations and Coalwood to the Consolidation Coal Company in 1922. Consolidated Coal constructed a larger clubhouse.1 It owned the property until March 16, 1933 when Consolidated went into default.1 3 6 Carter regained control of the mine and town until his death in 1936 when Carter Coal was assumed by his son James.
The mines were unionized in 1933 which led to tension in 1945 when Carter refused to sign a standard union contract.1 6 Weeks of intense debate and argument followed until the United States Navy was sent in to put the workers back to work due to the onset of World War II.
Coalwood and its mining operations were sold to a group of industrialists from Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company, Interlake Iron Corporation and the Steel Company of Canada on December 22, 1947. The group renamed the organization the Olga Coal Company.
In 1956, the Coalwood mine was connected to the Caretta mine, which was also owned by Olga. All coal was being shipped via the tipple and processing plant at Caretta by 1959, and \ operations at Coalwood were closed and dismantled.1 6 The N&W began dismantling the Clear Fork Branch shortly after.
The Olga Coal Company was purchased by the LTV Corporation in 1980 and the Coalwood mine was closed in 1986.1 6 At that time, the houses and businesses were still company owned, one of the last instances of its type in the United States, and were sold to the respective residents and business owners.
In 1985, Caretta Elementary merged with Coalwood, only for Coalwood Elementary to be closed in 1986. Students were then bussed to War Elementary in 1987.