The Big Sandy River that separates Kentucky and West Virginia also divided the two families. Randolph (Old Ran'l) McCoy raised his 15 kids in the Tug Valley section of Kentucky. William Anderson Hatfield (aka Devil Anse) had 13 kids on the West Virginia side. Although a group led by Anse killed Old Ran'l's younger brother in 1864, the feud actually started over ownership of a hog, nine years later. When the Hatfields finally burned down Ran'l's house on New Year's Day 1888, two state governors and the U.S. Supreme Court got into the act. The Hatfield perpetrators were imprisoned and some were hung for the murder of three McCoy brothers, a daughter, and a son.
The love match, which reads like a mountaineer version of "Romeo and Juliet," began during the 1880 election. When Anse's son Johnse and Ran'l's daughter Roseanna fell in love, neither family was pleased. At one point, she rode horseback to tell Anse her family had captured his son. After he saved Johnse from being killed by the McCoys, the kid was afraid to see her again. Roseanna eventually moved to Pikeville where she died, presumably of a broken heart, at age 30.
From Pikeville, Highway U.S. 460/KY-VA 80 heads south to the Breaks Interstate Park, also called the Grand Canyon of the South. The Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River created the five-mile-long, 1600-foot-deep gorge, making it the largest canyon east of the Mississippi. One pyramid of rock called the Tower is estimated to be 250 million years old. The Kentucky state line cuts through the northern edge of the 4500-acre park, but the visitor's center, 82-unit lodge, two-bedroom cottages, and seasonal campground are in Virginia.
Be advised: The information presented in this column is, to the best of our knowledge, correct and accurate at the time of publication. However, because of our lengthy lead time, we recommend you call the proper authorities or local experts for confirmation before visiting.
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