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Pratt

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Pratt lies on a promontory formed by the Kanawha River to its north and east; the CSX Railroad bounds it on the south, and Paint Creek defines its western limit. Within this tightly circumscribed area is a small grid pattern of streets and alleys platted in 1851 and named Clifton. As at Cedar Grove, several antebellum structures attest to the importance of the salt industry in the area, while later buildings relate to coal. The Kanawha fields were concentrated along the upper reaches of Paint Creek, and the Charles Pratt Coal Company, one of the largest operators, established headquarters here in 1889. The company built miners' houses, a clubhouse, and a tipple for loading coal onto river barges. Some of the company's buildings remain, southeast of the town's original grid plan. When the settlement was incorporated in 1905, it took the company's name.

Pratt figured prominently in West Virginia's 1912–1913 “Mine Wars.” National Guard troops occupied the town, martial law was declared, and striking miners were imprisoned in “bullpens.” Noted labor organizer Mother Jones, then eighty-two years old, was detained in Mrs. Carney's Boarding House (demolished) for almost three months during the winter of 1912–1913, and was tried in the no longer standing Odd Fellows Hall. Pratt has long since quieted down and has a refreshing spic-andspan air about it, something of a rarity in towns of the upper Kanawha valley.

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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