Continuing with my focus on McDowell County In this entry I will cover the community of Caretta. In the film “October Sky” Caretta is frequently mentioned as it is the main community between Coalwood and War on state route 16. In its time Caretta was a major coal camp in McDowell County. The Post Office opened in 1905, followed by a school in 1907. In 1922 the operations at Caretta were sold to Consolidated Coal Company and the first mine shaft was constructed in 1924. At least 200 houses were constructed at Caretta along with a 22 room boarding house. The Caretta school seen in pictures below was constructed in 1925, at the time it was only for white children. In 1947 the company and town was sold to a group of industrialists from Youngstown, Ohio that would become the Olga Coal Company.
Pictured above is the Carter Coal Company Store, also known as Consolidation Coal Company Store. It was built about 1912, and is a one-story brick commercial building on a stone foundation. It has a gable roof. The building was originally “T”-shaped, but wood frame additions built in 1922, spread the plan to an “L.” . It ceased operating as a post office in August 2005. Caretta’s zip code was 24982.
Next door to the Company Store is the Caretta United Methodist Church.
and across the street is the old Caretta school. Caretta Elementary closed in 1985. Students were sent to Coalwood, only to have Coalwood close in 1986. The school is now home to a local community group known as Big Creek People in Action.