For decades the town of Matewan was repeatedly drowned by floods from the nearby river the Tug River; it had an unwelcome reputation as the most frequently flooded town in America. The flooding peaked in 1977 and 1984,. That is when the Army Corps of Engineers were brought in to build a giant flood wall. The flood wall was commissioned. At 30 feet tall, that included massive steel doors that could slam across local roads, protecting the town. It was completed in 1997.
The flood wall follows the river for 2,350 feet, and it was credited for saving Matewan from a particularly nasty bout of weather during 2003.
The west-facing side of the flood wall has been outfitted with a walking path along the river. The wall itself was built with many stylized graphics cast into the wall itself. These graphics outline the history of the town, including the “Matewan Massacre” and the local Hatfield and McCoy clans.