Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register


John Henry: The Steel Drivin’ Man

Drivin’ Steel


John Henry was a steel driver whose job was to make holes for the explosives used to blast away rock at the heading of the tunnel. To do this he used a heavy, long-handled hammer to drive a steel drill into the rock face. When the drill reached the proper depth it was removed, the hole packed with explosives and the rock blasted free. The process then started over again. Every driver had a partner called a turner or shaker who held the drill and turned it after each blow of the hammer. These two-man teams were highly coordinated.

Related Articles

Other Exhibits

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2024 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.