"John Henry" mural painted by Artist-in-Residence, Littleton Alston, with the students of Dr. Eugene Skinner Magnet Center (1994)
"Like a shooting star, John Henry was born to move like a blaze of light."
"John Henry was swinging his sledgehammer and breaking boulders for roads as smooth as ribbon."
"Nothing could stop John Henry - no boulder, no mountain, no steam drill."
There is official history and there is oral history. It happened, people remembered it and passed it down. Between 1870-1873, the Big Bend Tunnel on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad was built in the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia. One day a man brought an experimental steam drill to the site. John Henry raced the steam drill to prove that a man could dig faster. He won the race but died from exhaustion at the moment of his victory. John Henry symbolized the workers' struggle of humanity over machine.
"Dying ain't important. Everybody does that. What matters is how well you do your living." ~Julius Lester, Author "John Henry"
Sponsored by the Nebraska ARTS COUNCIL