Coalton, West Virginia, located in Randolph County, was a company town operated by the West Virginia Coal and Coke Company. The town, however, was founded much earlier on May 8, 1895 2 as Womelsdorf, an Irish immigrant community,1 named after founder O.C. Womelsdorf of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.3 Womelsdorf had hoped that the completion of the Rolling Creek & Charleston Railroad from Coalton south to Charleston would spark the town’s development.4 The community, though, was reached by the Roaring Creek & Belington Railroad, extending northward.
After the richer Sewell seam was discovered in the New River valley, coal activity in the Roaring Creek region dwindled.5 For 1916, coal production at Coalton was 240,000 tons, but declined sharply after 1921 to just 22,000 tons by 1928.5 The population, which was 833 in 1920, dwindled to 373 in 1930.
St. Patrick’s Church
Under the direction of Rev. Michael Fitzpatrick, Womelsdorf established St. Patrick’s parish in the 1890s.1 The church was dedicated by Bishop Patrick J. Donahue in 1903. It was later expanded with a community center before closing and being reused as a city hall. The church is currently abandoned.
- Rutkowski, Ryan. “Sacred Places.” Catholic West Virginia. Charleston: Arcadia, 2010. 32. Print.
- Reger, David Bright, and West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey. “History.” Randolph County. Vol. 1. Morgantown: West Virginia University, 1931. 26. Print.
- Bosworth, A S. “Miscellaneous.” A History of Randolph County, West Virginia: from Its Earliest Exploration and Settlement to the Present Time. N.p.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1916. 262. Print.
- “Corporations.” Acts of the Legislature of West Virginia. Charleston: Moses W. Donnally, 1895. 17. Print.
- Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Works Progress Administration. “Tour 22.” West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State. N.p.: n.p., 1941. 502. Print.Clarke, Alan. “The B&O Years and Beyond.” West Virginia’s Coal and Coke Railway. Lynchburg: TLC Publishing, 2002. 133. Print.