Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chapel car's travels

{Please remember to vote for the chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace today and every day until May 12 at http://www.PartnersInPreservation.org/}

Chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace traveled the country for 50 years. Beginning in 1898 with its dedication at Rochester, New York, car 5 brought hope, enlightenment, and religion to hundreds of communities. Some visits were short and others were longer but by length of service the greatest impact was in the Pacific Northwest. From the first visit to Pasco, WA in August 1915 to retirement at south Everett in the summer of 1948, the chapel car spent nearly 33 years in Washington and Oregon. It also made brief visits to Idaho and California.

The Messenger of Peace’s early years in Washington were widespread and interesting. From research conducted by Norman and Wilma Taylor, we have learned a few colorful details about early visits to a variety of communities:

Car 5 visited Spokane in April 1916 where Pastor Thomas R. Gale described the church as “nearly dead, a hard proposition.”

A month long visit to Deer Park began on May 21, 1916 where the Reverend Gale provided evangelistic services and helped build a church building. This community on the Great Northern Railway was home to more than a dozen saw mills and was on what was Daniel Corbin's Spokane Falls and Northern Railway.

The remote logging communities of Wilburton and Mid Lakes received three weeks of attention from the Messenger of Peace in November and December 1916. These communities were on the Northern Pacific Railway’s belt line along the west shore of Lake Washington that until recently carried the Spirit of Washington dinner train, and fuselage sections for 737-900 aircraft unable to clear close clearances in Renton. Today, both settlements are a part of Bellevue and are anything but remote.

The bustling metropolis of Renton was another stop for car 5 in late 1916 where Reverend Gale described, “a mining camp [with] deplorable religious conditions.” Coal mines were the core of Renton’s economy in that era and churches were not plentiful.

In January 1917 the chapel car visited Issaquah for 6 weeks during a dreadfully difficult time for the community. The alien property custodians had also just arrived in town to seize what was left of a German-backed chemical plant. Adding to that was a layoff at the local Superior Coal mine. Messenger of Peace soldiered on to revive not only the Baptist church but the Methodists as well.

By March the car moved on to North Bend to help the First Baptist Church of North Bend, which continues today at the North Bend Community Church. Hear what Pastor Pete Battjes had to say on a recent visit to the Snoqualmie Depot:

The Messenger of Peace went on to visit hundreds of communities throughout the Northwest. It touched the lives of thousands of people yet its stories are nearly forgotten. The rehabilitation and restoration of chapel car 5 Messenger of Peace will help preserve and revive this exciting history. Please help support the effort by voting for the Messenger of Peace today and every day until May 12 at www.partnersinpreservation.org

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