- As the C&O Railway stretched westward along the Greenbrier River, The Legend of John Henry was born at Big Bend Mountain near Talcott, West Virginia. The Legend of John Henry is just that, a “legend,” and through the legend, John Henry became a symbol. He symbolized the many African Americans whose sweat and hard work built and maintained the rails across West Virginia.
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The historical accuracy of many of the aspects of the John Henry legend are subject to debate. According to researcher Scott Reynolds Nelson, the actual John Henry was born in 1848 in New Jersey and died of silicosis and not due to exhaustion of work. Several locations have been put forth for the tunnel on which John Henry died.
As the C&O Railway stretched westward along the Greenbrier River, The Legend of John Henry was born at Big Bend Mountain near Talcott, West Virginia. The Legend of John Henry is just that, a “legend,” and through the legend, John Henry became a symbol.
From what we know, John Henry was born a slave in the 1840s or 1850s in North Carolina or Virginia. He grew to stand 6 feet tall, 200 pounds - a giant in that day. He had an immense appetite, and an even greater capacity for work. He carried a beautiful baritone voice, and was a favorite banjo player to all who knew him.
Oct 26, 2011 · It is told that John Henry, a former slave, worked for the C&O railroad driving steel, a job required when blasting rock. Between 1868 and 1870, the C&O railroad was building rail lines in southern WV when it had to tunnel through Big Bend Mountain near Talcott.
Sep 03, 2010 · John Henry was perhaps the most famous worker. He was born a slave in the southern United States. He became a free man as a result of America’s Civil War. Then, he worked for the railroads.
- VOA Learning English
"John Henry was a real person who worked on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in the decade following the Civil War. While many believe Henry’s famous contest took place between 1869 and 1871 at the...
Some factual basis exists for the ballad of John Henry. When the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad drove the Big Bend Tunnel through the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, from 1870 to 1873, steel drivers hammered steel drills into the rock to make holes into which to pack explosives.
This folk song tells the story of John Henry, an enormous man who worked on the Big Bend Tunnel near Talcott, West Virginia. The tunnel was carved through the Big Bend Mountain so the railroad could go through it instead of around it. Work began on the mile-and-a-quarter tunnel in 1870, and the project was completed three years later.
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