New additions coming to the John Henry Historical Park

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TALCOTT WV (WVNS) — The Summers County Commission received grants from two different organizations in 2019 for the development of the John Henry Historical Park (JHHP). The grants are aimed to improve the development of the park and to add road markers.

The first grant, from the National Coal Heritage Area Authority (NCHAA), will be used provide long-term funding for the park’s development. While the second grant, from the Pomeroy Foundation’s Legend & Lore Marker Grant Program, aims to provide the funding for roadside markers to honor the legend of John Henry “The Steel-Driving Man.”

There was a portion of the grant from NCHAA used to cover the site development for a new railroad exhibit. The originally exhibit was located at Aubrey Keaton’s home. The railroad artifacts have been in storage at the park while planners figure out the best location in the park to permanently display them.

The Pomeroy Foundation Grant Program is a private grant-making foundation that helps communities celebrate their local folklore and legends with roadside markers.

“The grants (the National Coal Heritage Area Authority) have provided have funded a significant portion of John Henry Historical Park’s development over the years.” JHHP director Rick Moorefield stated in a release.

John Henry was a former slave hired as a steel driver to contractors that built a tunnel for the Chesapeake and Ohio railway in 1870. Henry’s job was to drive long steel chisels with a big hammer that was held by his assistant through the Big Bend Mountain. This created large holes in the mountain which was then filled with explosives to blast a tunnel. According to the legend John Henry drove steel 14-feet deep compared to the steam drill which only drilled nine. This saved his job and the jobs of hundreds of people who worked with him. For more information about John Henry you can click on the link.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil both the Keaton Exhibit and the Legends & Lore Marker will be held on Thursday Nov. 14th, 2019 at 1 p.m. It will be held at the John Henry Historical Park Entrance off State Route 3/12 in Talcott.

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