Flood wall.

Matewan Flood Wall

Field review by the editors.

Matewan, West Virginia

For decades the town of Matewan was repeatedly drowned by floods from the adjacent Tug River; it had an unwelcome reputation as the most frequently flooded town in America. The soggy assaults peaked in 1977 and 1984, and that's when the Army Corps of Engineers was brought in. A giant flood wall was commissioned, 30 feet tall, with massive steel doors that could slam across local roads, sealing in the town. It wouldn't be completed until 1997.

The wall stretches 2,350 feet along the river, and was credited for saving Matewan from a particularly disastrous surge in 2003. But it's not all grim practicality. The west-facing, sunnier side of the flood wall has been outfitted with a pedestrian path along the river, and the wall itself was built with stylized graphics cast into it, outlining the history of the town, including the bloody "Matewan Massacre" mine wars and the local Hatfield and McCoy clans, posing with their guns. It is art built to withstand the fury of a raging river, so it should last for a while.

Another river-centered Matewan tribute to the world's most dysfunctional neighbors is its annual Hatfield-McCoy reunion, held on the second weekend in June. It features a tug-of-war across the Tug River by the two now (mostly) reconciled families.

Also see: Hatfield-McCoy Feudin' Trail

Matewan Flood Wall

Address:
Main St., Matewan, WV
Directions:
From Hwy 1056 turn into the historic district on Main St. Immediately park in the lot on the right. Walk back to Hwy 1056, walk through the flood wall, then turn left onto the walking path. The Hatfield-McCoy tribute panels are about 100 yards down.
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Corner of Hatfield and McCoy StreetsCorner of Hatfield and McCoy Streets, Matewan, WV - < 1 mi.
PawPaw Murder Bush MarkerPawPaw Murder Bush Marker, McCarr, KY - < 1 mi.
Hatfield-McCoy ParkHatfield-McCoy Park, McCarr, KY - < 1 mi.
In the region:
A Town Named Odd, Odd, WV - 53 mi.

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November 17, 2017

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