The West Virginia. Cyclopedia

Caperton, West Virginia

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Photo of Caperton, circa 1920-30
1913 USGS map showing location of Caperton and the Caperton suspension bridge
1901 diagram of Caperton mine and its cable system across New River
1905 map showing "New Caperton mine"

In around 1878, Joseph L. Beury opened a mine at Elm, a location called Elm Station by the C&O Railway, very near the location that would later become known as Caperton. The mine was sometimes called the "Beury & Williams" operation, which had 10 coke ovens in operation in 1878. This was during the time that Beury, in association with John Cooper and Judge Williams, is created with opening what sometimes was called "the old Caperton mine".

In about 1894, the first mine opened on the south side of New River, in a location just opposite Caperton, however the tipple was located on the north side of the river near the C&O mainline. The coal from the mine was transported across the New River in buckets carried via a cable system that stretched across New River. Once the coal buckets were pulled to the north side, the contents were dumped into the tipple where the coal was transferred into the railroad's coal cars on a spur track. The cable system was discontinued sometime after the C&O South Side Branch was completed to location of the mine in about 1891.

The February 1899 edition of The Colliery Engineer featured a letter to the editor, written by Louis W, Atkinson, of Thurmond, WV, which provided the following information on the cable system used at Capertaon that spanned the New River: "This plant consists of two 2-inch steel cables, having a clear span from anchor to anchor of 2,125 feet over New River, the main line of the Chesapeake and Ohio Rail way and a branch line of the same railway on the opposite side of the same river. This plant was erected by the Roeblings for the New River Coke Company in 1894, and has been in steady operation since. The bucket has a capacity of 2 tons of coal, makes the trip in 1 minute and 13 seconds, and transports 600 tons per day of 9 hours. The capacity was guaranteed at 500 tons, but usually 575 to 625 tons pass over in one day. The span is from a tipple about 60 feet high on one side of the river to the coal on the other side of an elevation above the railway of 600 feet."

The north side location would later become known as Caperton, and the south side location of the original mine as South Caperton. The mine site would often be referred to as "the old Caperton mine" or "Old Caperton" in various books written in later years. In the early 1900s, another mine was opened downstream called "New Caperton" at or near a location that would later be known as Elverton.

In the mid-1880s two additional mines were opened near Caperton on the north side of New River. Both mines operated by New River Coke Co., of which G. H. Caperton was superintendent. These mines were called New River No. 1 and New River No. 2, both of which mined the Sewell coal seam. The company had 135 coke ovens in operation during the mid-1880s. 1884-1897

In 1903 a wire cable suspension bridge was built across the New River connecting Caperton and South Caperton. The span of the bridge was 510 feet. The footbridge was six feet in width. The bridge was suspended by a single cable of one-and-a-half-inches diameter strung between two wood towers, both eight-feet square at the base, 35-feet high, and sheathed over and shingled.

A 1911 Fayette County publication listed the Sewell Colliery Co. as operating "the Sugar Camp or Caperton mine," showing the company's post office address as Caperton, W.Va. The mine worked the Sewell coal seam.

Mines operated at Caperton about 1905-06 under the Victoria Coal & Coke Co., with G. H. Caperton, Pres.; Geo. W. Jones, V. Pres.; and W. H. Warren, Sect./Treasurer. Rand McNally & Co. In the 1920s, coal at Caperton was mined by the South Side Co.

A post office was established here at some unknown date. Caperton was included on a 1917 list of West Virginia post offices. According to the W.Va. Geological Survey of 1919, the population of Caperton in 1910 was 200. In 1920 it's population was 525.

Rafter's Reference: the ruins of Caperton are located on river-right, approximately a half mile downstream of Swimmer's Rapids.