We went on a very impromptu field trip this past monday...May 4th. To move to something lighthearted and simpler for the duration of the year, I had decided to study some American Legends and Tall Tales...
We had studied a few different ones such as Johnny Appleseed (which is based on the man John Chapman who not only planted apples but preached as well); Paul Bunyan (which apparently isn't based on one specific man that they can trace back, but many different legends); Casey Jones, and John Henry.
John Henry was an actual "Steel Driving Man" and it turns out that the Big Bend Tunnel in Talcott, WV was the location of his infamous challenge. I found out that it was only 2 1/2 hours from here so of course...FIELD TRIP!
We had to get lost first...because no good journey excludes this point. Here is the road that we weren't supposed to be under. It was the tiniest little road with a beautiful river next to it!
*See how tiny that road was....it was the wrong road of course!*
Then we stopped to check out a lake. It was so pretty and the view was amazing. I noticed the sign said "Army corps of Engineers" to which I said 'what, did the army make the lake?'.....
*this bridge had so many pot holes, we were afraid of falling through! I was afraid to tread....Dwayne was afraid he'd lose his tread....on his tires..I know, I'm no comedian*
*This is only half of the view of the lake, it was huge!*
...Only to discover that it was a dam, so yes, they had made the lake, lol. There were people fishing from the small overlook next to the bottom. I think this was probably the kids' favorite spot.
**You can tell we are homeschoolers...the comment "Look at that tire!" led to a discussion about water currents and forces etc**
**The poor tire...doomed to float in that same spot forever....or until someone moves it**
More driving and getting lost in a town (don't trust google maps, lol) before we got on the right road again. We almost missed it, it was only a small little spot on the side of the road. There stood the large (supposedly life size) statue of John Henry.
There was also a red caboose that was closed and a marker as well as a ball that we suppose had a purpose of some sort, and another marker that was missing it's plaque. I would love to find out what those meant.
*The red caboose*
**Isn't this the coolest statue ever!**
**Of course Zack has to pose...If I say smile he has a cheesy grin...if I say 'no seriously' then he looks mad or sad, lol
**The plaque at the foot of the statue**
**This is standing just at the foot looking up, it is a massive statue. **
**The large round rock...I have no clue what it is or supposed to be...maybe part of the rock from the tunnel...I'm just guessing here. I think I'll contact the town of Talcott and see what I can find out**
**Another mystery....what did this plaque used to say?**
There wasn't a spot at the bottom to look at the actual tunnel but signs did say that the John Henry landmark would be moving soon, however they looked as old as the location itself. I was really dissapointed with how the landmark seems to have been let go. You would think that being this tiny (20 minutes away from the interstate) town's only real attraction that it would have been better taken care of.
When we got home I did some reading and found out that the holes all of the statue are actually bullet holes, that it was once doused in white paint and that for some time they had to keep it behind a large fence for protection. It is really quite sad.
I would love to rally people together to fix up this landmark and make it portray the glory that the legend of John Henry himself portrays....overcoming adversity, perserverance and determination. I just have no idea who you'd get in touch with. I just have an idea that if the African American community would see the state of their greatest fold hero that perhaps they'd want to do something about it. I personally would love to do something about it!
But overall, the field trip was a blast and I loved being able to stand in the footsteps of one of America's greatest legends of all times! Is that thunder I hear??? No, must be John Henry striking that hammer! :D