The Chapel Cars of America


Cathedral Car of North Dakota

Chapel Cars of America
The book - This Train Is Bound For Glory - talks about thirteen churches-on-rails that followed the railroads west from 1890 to the 1940s and brought the gospel and the sacraments to the people living along the tracks. This is a story of America's history, a story of the railroads, a story of amazing grace and faith.
This book is now out of print, but you can read it online by CLICKING HERE.

There were three Episcopal cars: The Cathedral Car of North Dakota, and the two chapel cars of Upper Michigan; seven American Baptist Publication Society cars: Evangel, Emmanuel, Glad Tidings, Good Will, Messenger of Peace, Herald of Hope, and Grace; and three Catholic Extension Society cars: St. Anthony, St. Peter, and St. Paul.

The Cathedral Car of North Dakota Church of the Advent
The stained-glass miniature rose window in the cupola-style transept of the Cathedral Car may have been copied from a similar design on the exterior of the Russian Orthodox cars. Here the Cathedral Car is parked at the Chicago Pullman shops in November 1890, ready for delivery to Bishop Walker.

1890-1901 -- North Dakota

American Baptist Publication Society, Evangel
Evangel The first Baptist chapel car, at its dedication at Grand Central Depot in Cincinnati. Paid for with donations from a syndicate of wealthy Baptist businessmen, the car was built by the Barney & Smith Car Company of Dayton, Ohio.

1891-1924 -- MN, ND, MT, OR, WA, CA, AZ, NM, AR, KS, MS, LA, OK, IN, CO, NE, WY

Episcopal Diocese Car #1 of Northern Michigan
Innovative ways were needed to bring the gospel to those who lived off the beaten track. The first Upper Peninsula Episcopal chapel car was probably a loaned railroad car, most likely from the Chicago & North Western Railroad, which was outfitted as a chapel.

1891?-1894? -- Michigan Upper Peninsula

American Baptist Publication Society, Emmanuel
Emmanuel It was a miracle that chapel car Emmanuel,dedicated in Denver May 24, 1893, was completed. Times had changed since 1891. Because of the financial panic of 1893, Barney & Smith Car Works, like most of the nation's businesses, found itself in deep trouble. In 1893 immigrants by the thousands were pouring into Ellis Island, those who were privileged to stay headed west, wherever the rails would take them. The chapel cars were in much demand by state conventions. Emmanuelis listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is being restored at Praire Village, SD.

1893-1942 -- AZ, CA, OR, WA, NV, ID, MT, MO, CO, SD

American Baptist Publication Society, Glad Tidings
Glad Tidings The Third Baptist car built by the Barney & Smith Car Company was a gift of William Hills, a member of the chapel car syndicate from the Mt. Morris Baptist Church of New York City and the head of the Hills Brothers Company. Glad Tidingstraveled many miles on the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy route. From 1880 to 1905, the CB&Q colonization plan brought hundreds of people from England, Scotland, Sweden, and Germany to Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. Glad Tidingsended its long service in Flagstaff, Arizona.

1894-1926 -- MN, ND, SD, IA, WI, NE, MS, CO, WY, AZ

Episcopal Diocese Car #2 of Northern Michigan
This sketch of the second Chapel car of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan was used in a promotional brochure. The car perhaps was purchased from the North Western Railroad, where it may have been used as a business car, chair car, or caboose.

1894?-1905? -- Michigan Upper Peninsula

American Baptist Publication Society, Good Will
Good Will When Good Will first visited Texas, the state was a wild and diverse land of opportunities and extremes. In the land west of the Pecos River, Judge Roy Bean was the law of the land. With the completion of the Southern Pacific railroad line to Marshfield in 1916, it was possible to bring Good Will to Marshfield, Coquille, Myrtle Point, Powers, and many other Oregon towns.

1896-1938 -- TX, MO, CO, ID, UT, OR, WA, CA

American Baptist Publication Society, Messenger of Peace
Messenger of Peace Because Baptist women across the country raised the funds for its construction, Messenger of Peace would be called the Ladies' Car. Viewed by thousands at the 1904 World's Fair, it traveled across the United States and Canada under the auspices of the Railroad YMCA, and delivered the gospel from the Ozark Hills to the Olympic Mountains. Summer's heat, which sent temperatures soaring inside the chapel car, would cause the missionaries to put up the awnings.

1898-1948 -- KS, MO, CO, IL, WV, MT, NV, CA, OR, WA

American Baptist Publication Society, Herald of Hope
Herald of Hope A remarkable incident occurred during the Herald of Hope chapel car's dedication in Detroit, Michigan, on May 27, 1900. While Dr. Wayland Hoyt was offering the prayer of dedication, a dove was seen flying toward the car. As it reached a point directly over where Hoyt stood on the platform, the dove made several circles in its flight. The few who saw it said it was a thrilling sight. Called the Young Men's Car, this sixth and last wooden car was a project of the young men of the Woodward Avenue Church in Detroit. To provide the finishing touches, the women of the Detroit Woodward Avenue Church furnished the car with linens, bedding, dishes, and other household items, and the men of the First Baptist Church of Galveston, Texas, purchased a handsome brass lectern.

1900-1935 -- MI, IL, OH, IA, WV

Catholic Church Extension Society, St. Anthony
St. Anthony The dedication of the first Catholic Church Extension Society chapel car, St. Anthony, occurred on June 16, 1907. It was a wooden 1886 Wagner car, reconditioned by Pullman Company vice president Richmond Dean. St. Anthony's work in Oregon resulted in forty-three missions in the Archdiocese of Portland and forty-one in the Diocese of Baker. It had seen the completion of eleven churches in the archdiocese and nine in the Baker diocese, with several others under construction.

1907-1919 -- OR, KS, WA, SD, ID, UT, TN, MS, LA, WI

Catholic Church Extension Society, St. Peter
St. Peter At the time St. Peter was built, it was considered to be one of the longest railroad cars in the world. The chapel of St. Peter was finished in St. Jago mahogany with a Gothic design. Although the car was steel, the wood interior trim still reflected the craftsmanship of the Barney & Smith builders.

1912-1930s -- IL, OH, KS, MN, MT, OR, NC, ID, UT

Catholic Church Extension Society, St. Paul
St. Paul St. Paul, the last Catholic Church Extension Society chapel car was dedicated in New Orleans on March 14, 1915. It was donated by Peter Kuntz of Dayton, Ohio. This last 86-foot steel ark would travel the rails of Louisiana from 1915 to 1918, under the direction of Archbishop Nlenk, devoting its work to the mixture of people located there, as well as serving in Texas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

1915-1954 -- LA, NC, OK, MT, ID, IA, IN, TX

American Baptist Publication Society, Grace
Grace The designers at Barney & Smith Car Company were asked by the American Baptist Publication Society officials to make Grace, the last of the fleet of American chapel cars, more "churchy." This was done by using Gothic arches instead of the inset block feature that had been a part of the design of earlier Baptist cars. One of Grace's first stops was at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Graceis on display at the American Baptist Assembly at Green Lake, WI.

1915-1946 -- NV, CA, CO, WY, UT



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