Located in Talcott, WV the John Henry Museum and Gift Shop officially opened May 2014. The early 1900’s building was donated to the John Henry Historical Society by Ellery and Donna Wykle, the operators of Dillon’s Superette. The Historical Society focused heavily on the restoration of the inside main floor and mezzanine. Although the museum opened in May most of the groups’ focus was on the gift shop part, as that was the profit center. The museum was a temporary display with plans for development after the summer season.
Community Development Agent, Stacy Ford, joined the Historical Society in February 2014 and began working to develop an inventory and sales system for volunteers. Everyone that works at the museum are volunteers that live within the community.
Once the summer season ended, Stacy helped prioritize projects for the museum. She coordinated an oral history project with Matt Browning, Director of Communications and Megan Sheets, Digital Marketing Specialist at WVSU. They filmed an interview with Bill Dillon regarding John Henry and the construction of the Big Bend Tunnel. The completed project will be featured in the John Henry Museum and can be used as an educational tool for elementary children. Bill Dillon has served as the local story teller and opening the museum has been one of his goals.
Stacy has also started sorting and prioritizing artifacts and organizing material to begin archives. She plans to create digital scans that can be preserved and allow the Museum to begin displays and creating historical timelines.
Stacy is partnering with Richard Moorefield, WVU Extension Agent, on a $15,000 Coal Heritage Grant for the John Henry Museum. Stacy will help see that this money is used to purchase professional displays and other needed materials.
There have also been talks with illustrator, Peter Thornton regarding a book, A Natural Man The True Story of John Henry. The illustrator is interested in traveling to WV and signing books during the annual John Henry Days Festival 2015.
Currently Stacy focuses on three strategies at the museum:
- Honoring the legend of John Henry
- Educating the public about the history of building the C&O Railroad
- Capture the history of the community of Talcott.
For more details, or to find out how you can help The John Henry Museum, you can contact Stacy Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org.