CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Hatfield McCoy Country website crashed Thursday morning after getting 148,000 hits in about 24 hours.
The site was up and running again shortly, to accommodate tourists who want to learn more about the real Hatfield and McCoy families, said West Virginia University Extension professor and website creator Bill Richardson. The heightened interest in Hatfield McCoy country -- between Lincoln County and Pike County, Ky. -- comes from a miniseries that aired earlier this week on the History Channel.
The three-part, six-hour miniseries tells the story of the Hatfield and McCoy family feud that broke out after the end of the Civil War. Devil Anse Hatfield, played by Kevin Costner, returns home to West Virginia, and his friend, Randall McCoy, played by Bill Paxton, goes home to Kentucky. The two live near the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River, which runs along the border of the two states.
The series ran from Monday to Wednesday. The finale had 14.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched nonsports telecast on ad-supported cable, MSN reported Thursday.
Richardson said the Southern West Virginia area is just starting to see the effect of the miniseries, but he knows the tourism is on its way. Most of the phone calls he's fielded are from Tennessee, the Carolinas, Maryland, Southern Ohio and West Virginia.
Hatfield McCoy Country also has received attention from ABC and NBC national news, and the "CBS Sunday Morning" show and the "Today" show are coming, Richardson said.
Some increased tourism already is evident. Natalie Young, executive director of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the bus tours for June's Hatfield-McCoy reunion weekend are sold out. Each of the 150 buses will hold 50 people, compared to the 15 people each bus held last year.
"Needless to say, we've been working overtime," Young said.