John Henry's Sledge Hammer


John Henry


Sledge Hammer


The hammer increases the strength of the user to cause concussive force and destructive blows


The longer the user uses the hammer the more they will suffer extreme exhaustion until eventually they will die.


Using the sledge hammer.

Collected by

Warehouse 12







Date of Collection

September 10th, 1871



The legend of John Henry has been compared to that of other American "Big Men", such as Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill. John Henry's heroism is associated with several elements: his strength and grit as a working-class common man, his status as a hero to African American laborers, and his allegorical depiction of "the tragedy of man versus machine" and other aspects of modernization.

There are many versions of John Henry's story. In almost all versions of the story, John Henry is a black man of exceptional physical gifts, a former slave, possibly born in Tennessee. Henry becomes the greatest "steel-driver" in the mid-nineteenth-century push to expand railroads from the East Coast of the United States, across and through the mountains, to the frontier West. However, the owner of the railroad buys a steam-powered hammer to do the work of his mostly black steel-driving crew. To save his job and the jobs of his men, John Henry challenges the owner to a contest: Henry will race the steam-powered hammer. Henry won the race. However, as the result of pushing himself to beat the machine, he collapsed and died.


The incident with John was looked into by Agents from Warehouse 12 when they heard of his story. After sending a few Agents over and checking out what happened, they realized what the hammer could do, so now the hammer resides in the Warehouse.

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