HILLDALE - TALCOTT RURITAN CLUB
The Ruritans are an organization dedicated to community service in rural areas. The Hilldale-Talcott Ruritan Club was formed in 1968 with the express purposes of establishing the John Henry Historical Park and to promote and foster community development in Hilldale, Talcott, and Summers County.
The Ruritans, many of whom were retired C&O Railway employees, local businessmen, and area citizens, coordinated with local historical groups, schoolchildren, media outlets, West Virginia political officials, and national celebrities to collect hundreds of small donations for the commissioning of the John Henry statue and the establishment of the original roadside park on the mountain above the Great Bend Tunnel.
The park was opened in 1972 on the one-hundredth anniversary of the opening of the tunnel and the birth of the John Henry legend. The opening ceremony included the grand entrance of the John Henry statue through the Great Bend Tunnel on a special train.