Military & Motorcycles July 21, 2012 | Born To Ride Motorcycle Magazine - Motorcycle TV, Radio, Events, News and Motorcycle Blog

Military & Motorcycles July 21, 2012

Published on July 20, 2012 under Born To Ride

John Who?

Tucked away in the southeast corner of West Virginia a quiet little unincorporated area known as Talcott. Looking from the outside there appears to be nothing special about this wide spot on WV Route 3/12.


There is a Post Office, several stores and a few houses along the roadway as well as a railroad line which runs through the mountain. They also have a couple of churches and a cemetery called Pie Hollow (remember this name).


As a matter of fact there were two railroad tunnels which run through the mountain, the Great Bend and the Big Bend. Work on the tunnel began in 1869 and the men, who drove through the mountain, were paid the grand sum of $1.25 per day to risk life and limb to feed themselves and their families.


At this point I’m sure you’re saying to yourself ‘he’s going to spin a railroad yarn’, not so.


This short story is about a legend by the name of ‘John Henry’ referred to by the locals, scholars and singers alike as the “Steel Driving Man”.


They say he was 6’6” and weighed 245 pounds in the song, but he was closer to 6 foot and 200 pounds of raw muscle in reality.

He was pitted against a steam driven drill in a bet made between his foreman and the drill operator. Ultimately John Henry beat the steam driven drill but it cost him his life, supposedly due to a heart attack.


Each July, Talcott has what has become a really big deal in the area. They have a three day weekend called ‘John Henry Days’ where a person can go up to the tunnel for concerts, fireworks and assorted other activities or in town such as the parade, walks or runs, car shows and numerous vendors. Sue and I have been a part of the festivities almost since its inception and we always have a good time.


I mentioned Pie Hollow Cemetery earlier because that is where John Henry’s wife Polly Ann supposedly was laid to rest there in an unmarked grave. The actual location of John’s grave is uncertain; some say he was laid to rest in Pie Hollow also.

Is this story fact, myth or fiction? You will have to answer that question yourself. All I can say is if you’re nearby in July you can stop and participate in the activities and ask the locals if the stories of John Henry are true?


My adopted state of West Virginia would be proud to have you stop by and sit a while, listen to some good music and partake of their extremely good food and hospitality. It doesn’t get any better than ‘Almost Heaven’ unless you’re actually in Heaven.


If you would like to contact me please do so at and remember “It’s not about the war, it’s about the warriors.” God Bless America and those who serve in uniform.


Terry Longpre

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