TALCOTT - Man or myth? Could the legend in fact be history? Did a freed North Carolina slave work faster than a steam drill in 1870 while constructing the Great Bend Tunnel for the C&O Railroad?
“He drove two seven-foot holes back into that mountain,” John William Dillon told WOAY. “That steam drill drove one nine-foot hole. Proof that the machine got beat that day by John Henry.”
Dillon learned of the legend when he was a child. As the story goes, the steel driver died of an aneurism after hammering into the mountain. His statue now stands in the John Henry Park between the Great Bend and the Big Bend, a second tunnel built for CSX.
To honor the man, myth and legend, hundreds with gather for a party this weekend.
“Oh, my gosh, why not hold this kind of festival, you know?” Dillon said. “Johnny Cash has sung the song, and a whole lot of people have sung the song in entertainment.”
On Friday at 7 p.m., The Appaloosa's will perform Country, Western and Bluegrass for the crowd. On Saturday, The Esquires, like the excited guests, will return to the park for another annual show.
“They always come back,” Dillon said. “It grows, grows, grows, and last year we really had big growth.”
The park is a perfect mix of history and entertainment. There's a picnic area available for rent, miles of trails and a train exhibit. But the Talcott park will have live bands Friday and Saturday.
“Just a festive time to get out, have a good time and listen to some music and honor Johnny,” Dillon said.