Hopes for John Henry Park

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Hopes for John Henry Park

by John Douglas
Southern Cultures, Vol. 10, No. 2: Summer 2004

Today, the community of Talcott, West Virginia, bases its fledgling tourism industry on John Henry.

Today, the community of Talcott, West Virginia, bases its fledgling tourism industry on John Henry. “We really believe the contest with the steam drill happened here,” says John “Bill” Dillon, a retired Talcott postmaster and local historian.

In 1972 the Hilldale-Talcott Ruritan Club placed a statue of John Henry along State Routes 3 and 12 on Big Bend Mountain. Now, the Summers County Commissioners hope to move the statue to a thirty-acre parcel they are negotiating to buy from the railroad with grant funds. The site includes the Great Bend Tunnel, which has not been used by the railroad since 1974. The community hopes to turn the Big Bend site into a park that will spur economic development for a struggling area. Donations for the project have come from, among others, Johnny Cash and the descendant of a foreman who oversaw tunnel construction.