Hatfields And McCoys Feud Has Healed, But Legacy Is Good For Tourism
MATEWAN, W.Va. - More than a century after the last shots were fired in America's most famous feud, the Hatfields and McCoys mingle peacefully in the mountains they call home, singing together in church choirs, sharing pot-luck lunches and headlining an ever-growing annual festival.
When the two clans that spilled so much blood and buried so many sons decide to tussle now, they do it with a tug of war, not with rifles. When the families tried to outmuscle one another in a recent rope-pulling skirmish, the only volleys fired were playful taunts. The McCoys won the struggle waged across the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River separating West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
The names remain forever linked, but now in a pursuit of commerce. Businesses from a liquor store to a car wash to a restaurant and inn capitalize on the Hatfield-McCoy name. And the fascination with the families' bloody past may help propel this hardscrabble patch of Appalachia toward a more prosperous future.
A three-night miniseries about the feud that spanned much of the last half of the 19th century set basic cable viewing records and sparked renewed interest in the Hatfields and the McCoys, who waged their own cross-border war between West Virginia and Kentucky. The History Channel drama starred Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the patriarchs — William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield in West Virginia and Randolph "Ole Ran'l" McCoy in Kentucky – and drew more than 13.9 million viewers the first night. The finale did even better, with 14.3 million viewers.
A straight-to-DVD starring Christian Slater has just come out. The feud has inspired a spate of new books and television producers are looking for descendants of the once-feuding families to take part in a reality show that will be filmed in West Virginia.
As the backwoods blood feud finds itself in the cross-hairs of filmmakers and authors, officials in both states are hoping to transform a century-old spasm of violence into a modern day tourism brand. They offer bus tours of the crucial sites in the feuding that claimed at least a dozen lives by 1888 and catapulted both families into the American vernacular, becoming shorthand to describe bitter rivals...