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Incorporated in 1901 by William M. Ritter, the W. M. Ritter Lumber Company quickly became one of West Virginia’s largest lumber and sawmill companies. The company had operations in several counties of West Virginia and in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. The company grew so quickly that Ritter organized it into four divisions to govern operations in the six states into which his business had spread.

With growth, the company headquarters was moved from Welch to Columbus, Ohio, and then to Roanoke, Virginia. Recognizing that the forests were being depleted, Ritter sought to diversify. In 1923, the company acquired the Red Jacket Consolidated Coal and Coke Company with stores and mines near Matewan and in Virginia. The company stores were sold in 1957 and the coal reserves were leased to the Island Creek Coal Company in 1957. In 1960, the entire Ritter company was sold to the Georgia-Pacific Corporation. In nearly 60 years of operation, the W. M. Ritter Lumber Company sold more than three billion board feet of lumber.

This Article was written by Kenneth R. Bailey

Last Revised on October 22, 2010

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Cite This Article

Bailey, Kenneth R. "W. M. Ritter Lumber Company." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 22 October 2010. Web. 17 April 2014.

User Comments


Leslie Lyons September 21, 2013 at 01:14 PM

I am researching my family history and believe my grandfather, Thomas A. Lyons, worked in some management capacity for Ritter Lumber Company sometime in the early 1900s. It was maybe in West Virginia or North Carolina as we know he was in those states then. Someone in our family has a photograph of him standing with other well-dressed men in front of a train engine with the name of Ritter Lumber Company on the side. Is there anywhere you can suggest we search for his employment record with Ritter?

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