The pre Big Bend Tunnel 1930-1932 building commonly refereed to as the engineering building, is now relocated near to its original site in the John Henry Historical Park, it will once again find meaningful existence in the near future. After four known moves and one probable move related to the author by Kyle Rudisill who is considered to be an reliable source.
The Jenny Lin style (made entirely out of one inch materials, floor joists, rafters, sub-floor, roof and exterior sheathing) was either sold or gifted to Mr Wyant of Hungards Creek date unknown. Who then moved it across the road from the present day entrance to the John Henry Historical Park, onto his property next to the hillside, prior to the relocating of Judson road (Kyle Rudisill). Moving it once again with the advent of Judson road to the east side of the same. Where it remained until the last private owner Michael E. Cales donated it to the county in January of 2006. In May of 2006 volunteers for the park Larry Moorman, Dorsey Garten, Gary Huffman and Michael Cales moved it across the road where it stayed until April of 2012. Then volunteers Larry Moorman, Dorsey Garten, Bill Dillon, Ronald Gore, Bill Sowers, Michael Cales and Rick Moorefield, West Virginia University's extension agent and project manager moved it near to its original location within the park. The last move that began on the 3rd of
February 2020, that resulted with it being set on a new permanent cinder block foundation on the 3rd of June 2020, volunteers involved in this move were Ronald Gore, Bill Dillon, Tyler Turner, Brian Gore, Michael Cales and Rick Moorefield. It would be amiss not to mention David Sprouse and Sam Crook, David without hesitation loaned us his railroad jack, that improved the efficiency of the move considerably. Sam using his extensive knowledge of the construction trade, made installing the underground electric a simple process, that and his loan of a ratchet type come along, used to bring the bowed walls into place were indispensable.
At this time extensive renovation began in earnest, 2x10 floor joists were installed next to the existing 1x8 floor joists, the exterior walls bowed out due to the many moves were brought back into place, 2x4 walls were installed inside for stability and strength, 2x6 rafters were added next to the originals of various sizes, 2x6 ceiling joists were attached to the rafters at the stranded height of 8 feet (original ceiling was 7 feet common height for many older buildings and homes) thus creating a semi cathedral ceiling.
Plans for the interior include quality laminate flooring, drywall and possibly some wood mix in with it, hardwood trim, up to date light fixtures, cameras and a private bathroom. The exterior of the building will remain basically the same making only necessary changes for the longevity of the building. Under ground electric, a commercial door and two windows have already been installed, three smaller windows two on the east and one on the west side will be added, exterior lighting, a eight foot deck on the front with a wheel chair accessible ramp leading to it on the east side and a new green metal roof and white fascia and soffit will complete the renovations.
The actual age of the building is unknown, the earliest confirmed date is a photo taken in 1930. Per the photo it is obvious that it is not a newly constructed building, that and prior to the construction of the Big Bend Tunnel and sometime after there was a sidetrack that ended in near proximity. Therefore it is the general opinion that it was either a office, maintenance building or both.
After it came into private ownership the use varied from residential, (where some of the local residents had lived and some of them born there), commissary, justice of the peace and wholesale/retail business with the primary purpose to purchase and sell Wild Ginseng, Goldenseal and other native botanical's.
The current vision for the use of the building is a Welcome Center and meeting area for local non profits. Staffing provided by volunteers on the weekends and holidays during the Summer months. A lounge area and office space will be combined in a open floor plan, photos of the parks development throughout the years will adorn the walls, brochure racks and souvenirs will be available to the visitors. Our current pro economic County Commissioners will evaluate and determined the best overall use of the building, that is beneficial to the County's residents and visitors alike.
The expected completion date is early summer prior to this years John Henry Days festival. Funding has been provided by the National Coal Heritage Area, a true friend to the John Henry Historical Park.