John Henry / The lengend?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by lester perry, May 3, 2007.

  1. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    A while back someone asked about the lengend of John Henry. There were many responces on this topic. it supposidly took place in Alalbama, North Carolina, West Virginia. But no one seemed to know for sure.
    My wife and I were taking a short vacation in Hungry Mother state park in South Western Virginia. In our travels around the area we ended up in Hinton WV for some reason. Could be C&O related I don't know, we just ended up there by chance. Any way I found out about Talcott WV. Here are some pics I took there. You can come to your own conclusions




    Can you see a light at the end of the tunnel?
    Also found this at Hinton
  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Neat pictures, Les, I particularily like that burly-looking little fireless cooker.:thumb:

  3. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Neat pictures Les! Wow that light is just a little dot way back there!
  4. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    Thanks for posting the photos, Lester - very interesting, and some great shots!
  5. Straycat

    Straycat Member

    Here's a version of the song:

    Well, John Henry was a little baby
    Sittin' on his daddy's knee
    He pick up a hammer and a little piece of steel,
    And cried, "Hammer's gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord
    Hammer's gonna be the death of me"

    Now the captain he said to John Henry,
    "I'm gonna bring that steam drill 'round
    I'm gonna bring that steam drill out on these tracks
    I'm gonna knock that steel on down, God, God
    Gonna knock that steel on down"

    John Henry told his captain,
    "Lord, man ain't nothin' but a man
    Before I let that steam drill beat me down
    I'm gonna die with a hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord
    Die with a hammer in my hand"

    John Henry driving on the right side
    That steam drill driving on the left
    Says, "Before I'll let your steam drill beat me down
    I'm gonna hammer myself to death, Lord, Lord
    I'll hammer my fool self to death"

    Well, captain said to John Henry,
    "What is that storm I hear?"
    John Henry said, "That ain't no storm
    Captain, that's just my hammer in the air, Lord, Lord
    That's just my hammer in the air"

    John Henry said to his shaker
    "Shaker, why don't you sing?
    'Cause I'm swingin' thirty pounds from my hips on down
    Yeah, listen to my cold steel ring, Lord, Lord
    Listen to my cold steel ring"

    Now John Henry, he hammered in the mountains
    His hammer was striking fire
    But he worked so hard, he broke his heart
    John Henry laid his hammer and died, Lord, Lord
    John Henry laid down his hammer and died

    Well, now John Henry, he had him a woman
    Her name was Polly Ann
    She walked down to those tracks, picked up John Henry's hammer
    Polly drove steel like a man, Lord, Lord
    Polly drove that steel like a man

    Well, every Monday morning
    When the bluebird he begin to sing
    You can hear John Henry from a mile or more
    You can hear John Henry's hammer ring, Lord, Lord
    You can hear John Henry's hammer ring
    say it again!

    So you can hear John Henry's hammer ring, Lord, Lord
    You can hear John Henry's hammer ring
  6. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Well, you got me curious so I started digging to see what I could find. Using a combination of topo maps and aerial pictures, I finally figured out that the actual tunnels are just west of Talcott, WV. Did you photograph the east or the west end? As far as the legend goes, it seems there is some controversy as to whether the man even existed. I found lots of articles that supported the legend and others that did not. Regardless, he raced a steam drill, supposedly beat it and then died on the spot. Hope it was worth it. Beautiful pictures and from the topos and aerials, it looks like beautiful country. I'm always up for twisty, curvy roads (my favorite is between Kahului and Hana, Hawaii) and hope to visit this area someday... unlikely but hey, who cares. Thanks for the link. I love exploring and learning about little things like this.
  7. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    I have been there also.

    The monument stands on a mountain above the tunnle portal out side of Hinton, a big railroad town on the C&O main line.

    The C&O had shops there. It is still a wonderfull place to visit on the Greenbrier River and with Pipestem State Park and Blue Stone Damn near by.

  8. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    I had also researched that awhile back, quite by accident. The tunnels that he worked on (IMO) are in Alabama, as his "former owner" was contracted to the railroad in that area. The explanataion behind this can be found here:
    Intriguing tale:)
  9. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I've been through WV once. Pretty country but between the road construction and the toll booths, I'm not sure how anybody gets anywhere in that state. And Pax, WV is just a creepy creepy place....... (Hums Dueling Banjos from Deliverance)
  10. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Pax is a very nice place with a great little dinner. That exit takes you to a lake and a reclaimed trout stream that I fish often thanks to the Upper Paint Creek Asc.

    Yes, the tolls suck but much is being done to keep the toll road authurity and replace the hacks that get fat from it.

  11. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Yeah..... We stopped at that little diner/gas station/convenience store about 8:30 at night. Everyone in there just stared at us. We were going to eat there but I just paid for the gas and we left. They freaked us out that badly.
  12. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    West Virginia the state where sisters marry brothers and every lady has only one front tooth. Now as a Pennsylvanian we often associate Fayette County as a past of West Virginia.

    However the truth is that West Virginia is one of the best states in the Union. At least they were smart enough to separate from Virginia. The flat truth is that I love West Virginia and to under stand West Virginia you have to get off the four lanes. In addition they have some of the most beautiful women and yes they have all their teeth.

    Most of my time was spent fishing and canoeing on the Capon River. One of my favorite sites is Caudy’s Castle. At places there is even an old roadbed of the Winchester and Western Railroad. We use to camp on some land own buy a gentleman by the name of Sonny. Sonny was a strange man but as long as you fed him enough beer he made sure that you had enough firewood. Sonny was always one to sit up late spitting out stories until everyone went to bed.

    [FONT=&quot]It was only a few years after we stopped our canoe trips that I found out Sonny was in jail for murder. I never did find out any more details but if you know the area it is as about as remote as you can get.

    However in all of my years I have never found any more helpful people than those that live in the Great State of WV.[/FONT]
  13. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Thanks for postng the lyrics of that song. I also like the classic, "Nine Pound Hamer".

    Ralph (self-taught, fat fingered, mandolin player) :)
  14. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I went to the site you suggest and heard the same stories about WV. Supposedly a man found a short hammer and drill buried at the tunnel and has it in his possesion somewhere in WV. There are supposed people who's ancestors told them about this story as being in WV and they witnessed it. In fact one of these people supposedly was the man who held the drills for him. But before this gets out of hand it is folklore.
    Oh yea Train nut it was the east end.
  15. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Was there a snaked eyed kid with a buzz cut and a banjo??

    What were you DRESSED like?:mrgreen:
  16. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    No kid with a banjo..... Although I did hear that song in my head.

    Yeah, OK.
    I probably shouldn't have been wearing the mascara and black leather outfit. Especially with my mohawk being dyed blue that day....... :twisted:

    Seriously, we were dressed normal.
    Not that much different than them except they were all staring at us like, "We don't like strangers around these parts....*SPIT*"
  17. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Country folks are all like that, they gawk and talk. Good fishing around there. You sure about the kid & banjo?

    Maybe they were just in awe of you...couldn't figure out why a mule skinner was comeing home without a hot rod trailered behind his car.
  18. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Concidering where you live, I wouldn't be throwing stones at hillbillies:mrgreen:

    Maybe they were waiting on you to "show them " green backs.
  19. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I was born and raised in an Iowa cornfield before I moved to Missouri and about as redneck as they come, I got no hate for the Hillbillies. Not unless they're looking at me like, "You shore do got a pretty mouth, boy!" ;)
  20. Straycat

    Straycat Member

    There's several different versions. Folk songs get changed over the years.
    Good luck with the mandolin, my husband has one and he needs to practise. :rolleyes:

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