Coketon, West Virginia is the former central mining and coking facility of the Davis Coal & Coke Company.
The Davis Coal & Coke Company developed Coketon as a company town, which consisted of a power plant, tipple, headframes for underground mines, shop buildings, and 600 beehive coke ovens. 2
Davis Coal & Coke developed a 1½-mile long coking facility that began with two experimental “beehive” ovens in 1887. 1 It was where two tons of coal was converted into one ton of coke, the purest form of carbon and a byproduct of coal that was used to smelt iron ore into steel through the Bessemer process. Coke was produced by baking coal in brick ovens until the impurities were burned, regulated by the amount of oxygen allowed into the oven via exterior steel doors.
Coketon contained 600 ovens and employed 150 with an operation that ran 250 days per year. 1 It was the third largest coking facility in the state, and produced 200,000 tons of coke by 1904. Additionally, between 1915 and 1921, 15 coal mines near Coketon shipped over one million tons of coal per year, making it the sixth most productive operation in the state.
A new type of mining technology introduced in 1915 allowed the construction of coke ovens at the mine site and by 1919, all of the beehive ovens at Coalton were abandoned. Continuous underground coal mining continued until 1940 when the reserves were all but exhausted. By 1950, only two mines were in operation: No. 36 and No. 40, with production falling to just 100,000 tons per year by 1954. 1 All underground mining stopped by 1956, with just a few small surface mines continuing along until 1965.