Industrialist George Lafayette Carter (January 10, 1857-December 30, 1936) was born in Hillsville, Virginia. He made a fortune in the coal boom and founded the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio Railroad, better known as the Clinchfield, a major shipper of coal in southwest Virginia and neighboring West Virginia and Kentucky. Carter developed extensive iron and coal operations in Virginia before turning his attention to southern West Virginia.
Carter moved to his company town of Coalwood, McDowell County, in 1916. Starting in the 1910s and through the 1930s, Coalwood and neighboring Caretta, both Carter company towns, were cleaner and employees better paid than in many other coal towns of the time. Coalwood was later made famous in Rocket Boys, a 1998 memoir by native Homer Hickam, and the resulting movie, October Sky. Carter owed his success partly to his practice of vertical integration, controlling the product from the mine through the railroad to the wharves and docks of the major ports including Norfolk, Boston, and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Carter was eccentric in not hiring women or ever learning to drive a car. He died in Washington and is buried in Hillsville. His son, James, continued at Coalwood for several years after Carter’s death. Carter Coal Company was sold to Youngstown Sheet & Tube in 1947.
This Article was written by Charles F. Moore
Last Revised on October 01, 2012
Sisson, Sebert L. George L. Carter: Mountain Capitalist. Mountain Laurel, (October 1989).
Cite This Article
Moore, Charles F. "George L. Carter." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 01 October 2012. Web. 30 March 2017.