Big Jim here, coming at you from the heart of Hatfield-McCoy Country….
A lot of people are wondering what HMT has in the works for this coming year. The answer is a LOT!
Months ago, before the new Pocahontas Trail System at Bramwell opened up, Deputy Director John Fekete sat down and talked with me about that and several other projects. I took notes and to say I was overwhelmed at the public response to Pocahontas would be the understatement of the decade. Nobody involved could have foreseen how popular Pocahontas would be from the get-go and nobody could have foreseen the nationwide interest that came our way the same weekend when the History Channel’s mini series about the famous Hatfield-McCoy Feud was first broadcast and became a phenomenon. The synergy of these two new things was so great …well, lets just say at times I felt like I was back at the rodeo again and that somehow I was back to riding a bucking bronco!!!
While things are finally leveling off, they have still not gone down to the pre-event status level- which is a good thing, because that means the interest we received in Hatfield-McCoy and all things related is still GROWING.
And yes, the best trail system on the eastern coast is still growing. And will continue to grow. So now, I will share with you some more of that conversation I had with Mr. Fekete with some more recent insights.
First and foremost THE big project for this year is the new Ivy Branch trail system. From time to time we have been hit by delays cuased by weather and natural disasters, but work on Ivy Branch continues full steam ahead. When a clear opening date is possible, followers of HMT on the McBlog and our Facebook page will be the first to know. Until then, work continues at a dramatic pace on this meaningful project.
. HMT is also looking at a whole new trail system for Matewan which will connect Man, Williamson, Delbarton and Matewan, John told me last year, adding that it would be a “big thing” for Southern West Virginia. You see that is Hatfield-McCoy’s next phase- linking up existing trail systems so that you can go from one to the next to the next, only having to stop and come into town for fuel and maybe meals. But as John told me when I asked “when?” - “I think it will happen, but you cannot put a date on a project like that. …It has been a long process getting this up and running.”
Ivy Branch, Matewan, connecting up the trials are big projects indeed… But HMT is also moving forward on other major projects in Southern West Virginia.
“We are gonna concentrate on Lincoln, Wayne and the system around War in McDowell County,” John told me last year, right before Pocahontas opened up, adding that those projects were on the board to move forward.
While I cannot say the sky is the limit- after all, there is only so much land available in the state for trails, I can say this. Expansion will continue. …. John confirmed this with me when he mentioned that he and Executive Director Jeff Lusk had been contacted by other states about them putting together trail systems that would complement and ineract with HMT.
“Jeff and I had a meeting with the folks from Virginia who are trying to put together a trail system,” he explained. “We do not care to share and connect with other people. But on their way out the door we tell ‘em good luck, because it is not easy. Its not a big money maker for a company but it is a good regional moneymaker for a state or area because the money comes back to that community. “