Mighty Men of American folklore - John Henry
I'm just going to go with my heart here. I have always been fascinated with tales of the Mighty and Giant like powerful Heroes of American folk lore. John Henry the steel drivin' man was one of them. This Myth may be based on a real individual or it may not be. I'll leave you to determine this for yourselves.
Back in the olden days when Rail road crews were laying track across the land men had to carve out moutains by hand. Crews and crews of men with pick axes and sledge hammers would dig and dig out mountains and tunnels for the railroad until one day some dude come along and he got a steam engine pile driving machine and he wants to make things easier on men and leave all the smashing and crashing to his machine. But this is going to put men out of work and a lot of guys are simply none too happy with the prospect of losing their job. SO...in a challenge the DRIVERS ( That's what the men were called that did all the sledge and axe work ) put their biggest and mightiest and strongest DRIVER up to the task of banging out a tunnel in a race of MAN vs MACHINE !
With nothing but a hammer in each hand JOHN HENRY showed up to work that day ready to rip into a mountain. The race was on as the Steam driven pile driving modified locomotive and the Mighty JOHN HENRY the STEEL DRIVING MAN went toe to toe. The story goes...JOHN HENRY beat that steam engine that day but...he then expired and died collapsing while holding onto both his hammers in his blistered and bloody fists. The starin was just too much for him as he was more than likely dehydrated exhausted and probably had several broken blood vessels in his heart and brain from exerting his mighty muscles for so long a period of time while facing off against the MACHINE. Just the story alone is amazing. Can a man actually triumph is such a fashion?
It's been said that according to legend the myth was derived from an actual living breathing person. This man was a convicted criminal and put to work on the railroad as part of his penalty. But his hard work and mighty frame had people in awe as he wielded two hammers to do his work just like the legend says. So much so that a legend was built around him. The John Henry of myth was a former slave who had gotten work at the railroad because of his size and strength. There are stories and films and songs about him and you can look up all the particulars on the web if you're so inspired. But Mighty men like this....I do believe did and do exist. This legend is a truly inspired one in that it encompasses all the elements of a trail of HERCULES ~ JOHN HENRY ...a MIGHTY SON OF HERCULES!