Caretta, West Virginia

Caretta, a community in McDowell County, West Virginia, was a logging and coal camp. It was named after the transposed syllables of Mrs. Etta Carter, the wife of George Lafayette Carter, who founded Carter Coal.

Initially known as Logging Camp No. 5,3  logs were delivered 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 underground coal mining operation.

A post office opened April 8, 1905, during which time Caretta had a population of 300,.3 followed by a school in 1907.

In 1922, the operations were sold to the Consolidation Coal Company and the first mine shaft was constructed in 1924.1 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, larger school for white children was completed in 1925.1

Consolidated Coal went into default on March 16, 1933 1 2 although 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 on December 22, who renamed the company to the Olga Coal Company.

In 1956, the Caretta mine was connected to the Coalwood mine, which owned by the Olga Coal Company. By the end of the decade, all coal was being shipped via the tipple and processing plant at Caretta and operations at Coalwood were closed.1

The Caretta mine closed in 1982 during an extensive coal industry slump, although it briefly reopened from 1983 to 1986.3


  1. “History Timeline.” Coalwood, West Virginia. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2011. Article.
  2. McGehee, Stuart. “Historic Coalwood.” Goldenseal Summer 2001: 52-56. Print.
  3. Schust, Alex P. “Caretta (Juno).” Billion Dollar Coalfield. Ed. Linda Graves. Harwood, MD: Two Mule Publishing, 2010. 506-511. Print.

1 Comment

  1. The abandoned tipple shown here has since been demolished and a new operation is going in.

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