By Mannix Porterfield
More than a century ago, two families spilled blood on both sides of the Big Sandy and the Tug Fork River in America’s most celebrated feud.
Now, in the 21st Century, a popular all-terrain vehicle adventure in southern West Virginia bears the name of the savage Hatfield-McCoy feud, the subject of a recent public television series that drew rave reviews.
This week, a move was launched in the House of Delegates to draw even more attention to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, in a proposal to create a special license plate.
“The trail is an asset to southern West Virginia,” Delegate Josh Nelson, R-Boone, a co-sponsor, said Wednesday.
“We want to do everything we can to raise awareness of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail. Creating a license plate for that is not going to cost the taxpayers anything because it’s a vanity plate. I hope it will cause more in-state and out-of-state awareness that the trail is there and hopefully bring more business to West Virginia.”
Open year-round, the Hatfield-McCoy trail covers more than 500 miles in five of the nine projected counties it ultimately will blanket.
“It’s become pretty popular,” said Nelson, who at times rides an ATV on the trail.
“You can drive by the trailheads and usually there are a lot of people there. Some communities have gotten a lot of business because of it, especially in the warmer months of the year. We need to increase tourism. Anything we can do to create jobs in this area, we need to do it.’
Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, the lead sponsor, said the plate hopefully will pick up where the popular television series left off and benefit the trail.
“With the recent success of the ‘Hatfields & McCoys,’ it is time to capitalize on its success,” he said.
“We have an opportunity to make southern West Virginia a hub of tourism. I am proud to introduce this bill and will continue working to improve our local economy.”
Among other co-sponsors are Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, and Delegates Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, and Linda Goode Phillips, D-Wyoming.
Nelson said no design has been created for the plate “but it will probably be a pretty cool license plate.”
“The trail was named after the feud, and that has been a very popular theme in southern West Virginia,” he added.
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