It was man versus machine. When John Henry, the tall Virginian, picked up his hammer, crowds gathered to watch. Most of the people had never seen a man so tall and so strong. As a steel driver, John Henry could outwork three men, maybe more, on his crew at the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. The tale of John Henry was a bright light after the dark days of slavery. Songs about him have been sung for more than 100 years.