How would you like to have an accidental Mega Event in your front yard? Well that’s exactly what happened to Wendy when she first launched the now famous Hatfield McCoy GeoTrail in and around Williamson, West Virginia. The word spread then, just as it does now, about how awesome this Geocaching Trail is. In fact, ever since we started geocaching a few years back, we can’t count how many times we have heard people rave about this trail. And who wouldn’t. This GeoTrail brings to life one of the most infamous family-feuds of all time, the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. With creative caches, puzzles, and loads of history, you will be fully immersed in the experience.
And to top it off, who wouldn’t want to meet an actual decendent from both families?!? Yup, that’s Wendy – the creator of the original GeoTrail and the NEWLY published Hatfield McCoy House GeoTour. No wonder she loves this stuff, it’s her own heritage! Check out the interview below and find out more about the new Hatfield McCoy House GeoTour, and how you can stay and have a chat with Wendy at her B&B, the Hatfield & McCoy House Historic Inn.
1. We have heard so many great things about the original Hatfield McCoy GeoTrail, with 20 caches that take cachers on a journey through some of the history of this famous family rivalry. What initially made you to want to create this GeoTrail?
I started caching because I had a new phone with the app preloaded. It was dec 2010. I found about fifty caches and started to think I was good at it.There was one Cacher, Spongebob CachePants who made the coolest hides. I found his mostly and started to grow a bit of a geocrush on him from afar. I wanted to meet him in person so I figured out that you could go to events and I took off hoping to see him there.He walked in and my heart was racing. Omg ! It’s spongebob !!! So he walks over and shakes my hand and introduces himself and says…so you are Wendy ?! I couldn’t believe it…HE KNOWS MY NAME !!! Then he says…fifty finds…NOT BAD FOR A GIRL 😉Ha ! I became a life long geocacher at that moment and my only goal was to catch him.He had about 3500 finds at the time and I sat out on a mission to beat him. (As of today he has about 7000 to my 14,000 <he was right ! Not bad for a girl). I like to say that I went in search of a piece of Tupperware but found a new life instead.It took me less than a year and a half to get 6107 finds….that beat spongebob and put me number one in the state at the time.I slowed down after that and started geocaching. HeheSpongeBob became my best friend and we partnered to create the first Hatfield McCoy GeoTrail (history trail) and the accidental MEGA in my yard.
2. You have put so much time and energy into this great historic GeoTrail. What is your favorite cache on this GeoTrail and why is it so special to you?
I absolutely love the washstand cache. I think all the locations come together to tell the story of the feud so well. If you are not a cacher you can come and stay at the Inn and take the passport and go out and do the tour with your phone or gps in your car you can see everything you need to see of the history of the feud. That part makes me proud of what we did. Because we spoon feed my personal family history to every Cacher who comes here and they go away with a new opinion of what “West Virginia hillbillies” are.The washstand is a huge stone sorta sink that stood in the yard of preacher Anderson Hatfield and I love to run my hands across the stone and know that everyone who came into his home washed their hands first in that sink. I imagine that the blood from murders they committed was washed away there ?
3. Knowing that you are both a Hatfield and a McCoy through your family lineage, tell us what it is like running a Bed & Breakfast in an area where you live and breathe the history of your family’s famous feud?
When the history channel came through and started doing filming for the Hatfield McCoy White Lightening reality show I met Bill Richardson. He was the local historian and an associate professor for WVU for the Mingo county extension office. He was the guy to go to for Hatfield McCoy history. I was fascinated by him. I had just gotten divorced and we became fast what I call stupid in love. (We live together now)He interviewed me for the show and though I didn’t make the final cut he used me in over half the episodes in one way or the other. So it was really cool to turn the tv on and find me being silly on the history channel every week for a season. You can still go to the history channel and look up some of the footage. If you click on who are the Hatfields there’s even a fast shot of me on there 😉Anyway, bill and I teamed up and created what is now the Hatfield McCoy House Inn and it has been such a blessing to have his knowledge of the feud while creating the space for guests.
4. In addition to your original GeoTrail, you recently created a NEW Hatfield McCoy House GeoTour. This GeoTour is the first of its kind, with a over 150 caches in the shape of a house! What kind of planning went into making this historic GeoTour in form of GeoArt?
I honestly have no words for how much time went into this one. It was my first “without spongebob” adventure and I was scared. What if I couldn’t make it everything it needed to be !? I enlisted the mathematical help of my geocacher friend f0t0m0m from California and I made changes and drug pins around on Google earth and we kept spreadsheets and sent back and forth with all the information and once we knew where the caches had to be I had the task of building 150 fun and creative hides. It took four months to get them all out there and I am still a month in doing daily maintenance to fix ones that didn’t hold up in the four foot of snow that fell on publish. It is a huge labor of love.
5. From what we have seen and read, the passport for your GeoTour is impressive – and like nothing else around the world. Can you tell us a little bit more about the passport?
I am in the second printing of the passport because I sold tons of them and packaged them in different ways and now I need a new printing. Those should come in by the end of March and will include more sponsors for the tour locally who came to realize that if you build it…cachers will come.The passport is a beautiful collectible for you to keep when you finish the Geotour and has the puzzle for number HMHG 149 in it and will have a couple pages in the new version for you to complete the original history trail as well.
6. The Hatfield McCoy House GeoTour has some really awesome looking commemorative products. Tell us a bit more about the different rewards for completing this tour, and also the exclusive items for cachers who stay at your B&B, the Hatfield McCoy House Historic Inn.
If a person just wants the coins and passport they can order those from the website without staying with us. I hope most will choose to stay and be supportive of future geocache placements in Hatfield McCoy country.So we came up with the official Geotour coin and Pathtag that Chris Mackey designed and they are truly beautiful coins. His work is just unbelievable and anything you get a chance to own that he has designed is typically awesome.We also have the official house coin that has me standing with the Hatfields and mccoys and on the back is the actual line drawing of the house image that the geoart was pulled from.And of course the passport.I also offer for sale many other Hatfield McCoy GeoTrail coins and items that I have left from previous events that are amazing coins. Then of course if you come and do the 20 original caches you can still get the history coin that started it all free. If a person books a one night stay at the house they get the official coins and Pathtag with their stay. If they stay two nights they get the house coins added in and if they stay three nights all of the coins and pathtags and passport items are free with their room purchase.It’s a easy three day adventure. There are probably five hundred caches place on the Hatfield McCoy accounts and with the pig, River of blood, the history trail and now the house, you can spend a lot of time in the area for a geovacation.
7. In the end, what is it that you want cachers from all over the country (and the world) to walk away with after doing this GeoTour?
If I had to say one thing I’d like people to go away thinking I’d like them to say…Hey….SpongeBob was right…that’s not bad for a girl !! Lol
8. Lastly, we love that you saw the connection between Geocaching and tourism in your town. You are the perfect example of how Geocaching Tourism can make an impact on the community. Can you give a quick recap of some of the ways Geocaching has benefitted your community?
I took an initial investment of 1000.00 and the West Virginia university did an economic impact statement and that first thousand dollars turned into $1,269,000.00 in less than two years. Still going strong and now with the addition of the river of blood caches for kayakers we put on the tug River this past fall for the coming kayak season and the publish of the Geotour I really think that number will double over the next year and a half. Bills job is tourism. That’s what he does. And with a business completely dependent on visitors it has become my life to build tourism and showcase our rich history in a small country town centered in the hills of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
9. As the creator of both the original GeoTrail and this new GeoTour, what do you enjoy the most about being the owner, and hosting cachers (and regular guests) at the the Hatfield McCoy House Inn?
For me as a Cacher I find the stories they tell at the end of the day so fulfilling. I love to listen to them talk about climbing or falling or laughing while doing the tour and I especially love when they say, wow!The pig geoart is people’s favorites so far. That thing just looks so cute on your map and people come from all over to do the pig.I’d close by saying that building a destination for geocachers has been my life for four years. I have 14221 finds at the moment and a trip to California next week…yay…I support hotels that support geocaching when I travel and I try to leave logs behind for cache owners to thank them for their work. I love this game. I love how it changed my life. All my friends are cachers. My best friend is the man who started me and challenged me in the game.People like f0t0m0m, show me the cache, spongebob and so so so many others that are not just names to me now but my friends and family.SpongeBob says all the time when I get hurt that people come to the area to do the caches and stay in a neighboring town in a hotel and not with me at the inn then show up the next day wanting their free coin that I can’t get them all. And I always say…why can’t I !? Forever my goal was that every coin given I or sponge would personally hand it to them. That’s what gives me joy. So I hate it when people stay someplace else and I don’t get to chat with them about the caches. It’s like getting a TFTC on a cache that has taken four years of my life to create. Lol