Julia Roberts Goad
STONE, Ky - Bob Scott says the people of Pike and Mingo Counties do not realize the potential of the history in their backyard, and he wants to spur local groups to take advantage of that history.
Scott, recently appointed board member to the Pike County Tourism Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the members of Stone Heritage that the media attention the area has received in the last year is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“We are sitting on an opportunity,” he said. “We’re not going to get a television miniseries, National Geographic, the New York Times and all the others’ attention again.”
He said CBS had more hits on their website about the Hatfield McCoy Feud than any other.
“The country is enthused, but local people are not,” he said.
Scott said there are many points of interest in both counties, but that to market them, there needs to be a cohesive plan. He noted that, in addition to the history of the Hatfield McCoy Feud, there is the Hatfield McCoy Marathon, the Country Music Highway, Stone and its history with Henry Ford and the natural beauty of the area that can entice people to come to the area.
But, he says, in order to capitalize on tourism, visitors need a reason to stay.
“The key is they have to be entertained,” Scott said. “People come to see the McCoy well, and, while it’s interesting, if it were me, I would say, ‘Man, that’s a fine hole, what else is there to do around here?’ People will come, and talk to others, and say it is just not worth the effort to come here.”
Scott said Feud sites are scattered throughout Pike, Mingo and Logan Counties, and that they were often not maintained. To be a destination, there have to be other attractions, and Scott is ready to think outside the box.
“Pikeville has a lot to offer, but there is nothing here or in West Virginia,” Scott said. “We need to have a center point, something to wrap the Hatfield McCoy Feud around. I keep looking at the Don Blankenship house, up there on top of the mountain. We could put things up on that hill and charge people to come. Where else could they zip line from one zip code to another? Why wouldn’t Alpha (Natural Resources, which owns the house) gift that to a charitable organization?”
He said the Hatfield McCoy play that will be staged this summer in McCarr is a step in the right direction.
“People used to ask where they could see the Hatfield McCoy play, and I had to tell them it was in Beckley,” Scott told Stone Heritage. “Now we will have it this summer. You have a theater here, could you do that?”
Stone Heritage President Bill Ball said that while the group is interested in the idea, the old theater in Stone is far from ready to stage a play, but that the group is willing to work with any other group or community, whether in Pike or Mingo County, to market the area.
Scott said the key in creating a market for the area is cash, and spoke about how to raise funds.
“People love to have buildings named after them, they will donate,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a million dollars, have people set up an inexpensive life insurance with your group as the beneficiary, it can be done.”
The key, Scott said, is a love of the area and desire to bring people in.
“We have to have a passion,” he said. “We are all going to die someday, and we just need to carve out something that is ours.”