Many of you may know the legend of John Henry was based on a real person.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about him:
"John Henry is an African American folk hero. He is said to have worked as a "steel-driving man"—a man tasked with hammering a steel drill into rock to make holes for explosives to blast the rock in constructing a railroad tunnel. According to legend, John Henry's prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam-powered hammer, a race he won, only to die in victory with his hammer in his hand as his heart gave out from stress. The story of John Henry is told in a classic folk song, which exists in many versions, and has been the subject of numerous stories, plays, books, and novels. Various locations, including Big Bend Tunnel in West Virginia, Lewis Tunnel in Virginia, and Coosa Mountain Tunnel in Alabama, have been suggested as the site of the contest."
However, only Summers County, West Virginia, where Big Bend Tunnel is located, can boast of a man named John Henry, in their Census Records for the time period of the Great Steam Engine Race, making the 'folklore' a more plausible legend. Especially since the John Henry of the Census worked for the railroad engineers.
You weigh it out. Fact? Or fiction?
If you ever get the chance, you can visit the John Henry Memorial Park located just above Talcott, WV on Route 12, There is a lovely picnic area, portable toilets, and a playground for the children.
Oh, and why my interest in John Henry?