Item description for This Train Is Bound for Glory: The Story of America's Chapel Cars by Wilma Rugh Taylor & Norman Thomas Taylor...
Overview In Mission Magazine of Eastern Baptist Seminary says of This Train Is Bound for Glory, "It is not often that a railroad romance is associated with a missionary story. This is the fascinating story of the Gospel on the railroad, of Christian fortitude and commitment. The preachers and their wives who manned these chapel cars have an ecumenical legacy that still inspires. This is a book for tired Christians who would like to give in and give up. The stories told here are like a tonic, a true elixir quite different from those sold from other railroad cars of the time. The book catches the spirit of the times and is good history but it also breathes the Spirit of the ages."
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More About Wilma Rugh Taylor & Norman Thomas Taylor
Wilma Rugh Taylor, an author, historian, and former journalism teacher, is an active member of the American Baptist Historical Society and National Railroad Historical Association. With her husband, she is the co-author of a previous book on chapel cars nationally, "This Train Is Bound for Glory: The Story of ""America""'s Chapel Cars." Their research encouraged the restoration of chapel car Grace, which is currently in progress at the Green Lake Conference Center, Green Lake, Wisconsin.
Wilma Rugh Taylor currently resides in the state of Indiana.
Reviews - What do customers think about This Train Is Bound for Glory: The Story of America's Chapel Cars?
Railroad Religiosity Aug 23, 2004
The ingenuity of humans in furthering their own ends is practically boundless. Add to that ingenuity the fervor of 19th and early 20th century evangelists to proselytize and "save" all the non-believers around the country and we see why the railroad chapel car was conceived. Factor in the competitiveness of different denominations and we see why one chapel car grew into a dozen rolling churches representing three different groups, Episcopal, Baptist and Catholic. These specially-designed cars with pews, pulpits, and cramped living quarters for the missionaries (and, when applicable, their wives) saw a long run, too, lasting from the 1890's into the 1940's. THIS TRAIN IS BOUND FOR GLORY is a 382-page history of these twelve special chapel cars, plus a quick glance at two more, the monstrously ornate cars of the Russian Orthodox Church which may have inspired the first American chapel car and the private car of Mormon founder Brigham Young, said to have had angels painted on its ceiling.
So far as the book THIS TRAIN... is concerned, I find reviewing its quality to be a particularly difficult task, for it is without doubt the result of lengthy, exhaustive research, many times in primary sources which required significant travel by the authors. The extensive, meticulous research evident in this book is truly impressive and is far and away its strongest element. There is no question that, based upon the research, the end-of-chapter documentation sections, and the minute historical details that the authors extracted from the huge mounds of historical detritus through which they picked, this book fully rates the maximum of five stars-and then some.
However, the readability of the book does not fare quite so well. Many parts of it read as though the authors had before them a stack of note cards, filled with all sorts of historical facts related more or less to the car being discussed, and merely transcribed these notes into a narrative, paragraphed form, resulting in jerky and sometimes disconnected text. One must also wonder whether some of the extreme minutiae are really worthy of being discussed in even a detailed history book.
Even more troubling to the discerning reader than the uneven flow of the narrative is the apparent moral judgements of the authors that are repeatedly woven into the text. Granted, some of these may be paraphrases from the authors' sources, but the footnoting is not sufficiently clear to show this to be the case. A typical example is on page 117 where the authors proclaim that Gillette, Wyoming was "a godless place" and then proceed to equate the presence of saloons, dance halls, gambling houses and brothels to godlessness. Such moral condemnation has little place in an objective historical account.
Fortunately, every now and then, a bit of significant American history is revealed, the type of history that tells much more about the "American façade" than we shall find in our cleansed and purified public school textbooks. For instance, from page 123, we learn that a "man was forced to kiss the flag because he had criticized President Wilson, and a Union Pacific employee of Russian ancestry was stripped and painted yellow because he refused to buy a Victory bond.... [In some communities] German books were burned." Finding history such as this is more than enough reason to read books that have not been approved by school boards!
A strange index is included at the end of the book. It is more or less alphabetical but is also arranged according to the name of the chapel car to which the index entries refer. Hence, to locate, say, a town name, one must look under each car's list of entries since more than one car (or none) may have visited that town. Looking up references to Brigham Young, simply because that entry caught my eye, I noted that the reference was to a very cursory mention in one chapter while a more significant discussion of the man and his private railroad car was not listed-unless the entry was somewhere else in this confusing "index." In either case, the index is not user-friendly.
The book is formatted in an unusual horizontal format, making it awkward to hold while reading. One really needs a desk rather than a lap to support the book. Yet, it is not really a "coffee table book" because, while there are some excellent historical photographs, its raison d'être lies in the text, and it cannot be lightly browsed.
Impressive research. Uneven narrative flow. Possible intrusion of authors' moral judgements. Important historical insights here and there. Index of dubious usefulness. Awkward format. Shall we "round off" a 2.5 rating and give it three stars? With that rating, however, comes the suggestion that the reader borrow the book from a library before deciding to add it to a permanent home collection.
Connection With Chapel Car History Apr 25, 2002
I am a member of Emmanuel First Baptist Church in Sparks, Nevada. My church was one of those founded by Chapel Car Emmanuel mentioned in this book. I am, at present, researching material for a historical novel based on the chapel car ministries. This book, with its photos and descriptions, has been extremely valuable in helping me to write a story of a little known part of American history. I highly recommend this to all railroad buffs and to others who may also be members of churches founded by these cars and the dedicated men and women who made such great sacrifices in the growth of our nation. Diana Dilcher Emmanuel First Baptist Church Sparks, Nevada.
This Train Is Bound For Glory Mar 11, 2000
This is an excellent history of the railroad chapel cars used in the United States in the latter 1800's & early 1900's. It is a good review of how the gospel was brought into newly developed railroad towns that had no established churches and in many cases wild & wooly towns. There are many wonderful old historic pictures and bibilical quotations. You will find out how the Episcopalians, Catholics, and Baptists had these chapel cars built. Anyone who likes trains, actively involved with the church, or has lived in towns where the local railroad brought in chapel cars will really enjoy reading this book!
Something for everyone! Nov 25, 1999
If you are a history buff, a railroad buff, a Baptist, an Episcopalian, or a Roman Catholic, you will find interesting information in this book. From 1890 until the middle of the 20th century a unique form of ministry for several denominations brought religious services to the most out-of-the way areas in the country. Chapel cars were outfitted and dispatched to bring their message to people who otherwise would have had no access to churches. One of the chaapel cars had elegant and exquisite fittings and brought the beauty of a cathedral to the frontier; others were simpler. Both the opposition to the chapel cars, and their widespread and grateful acceptance are told, with countless letters, editorials, and other news clippings. The details and dimensions of outfitting the chapel cars willl enable railroad buffs to create accurate models. A fascinating bit of Americana is captured forever between the covers of this attractive coffee table-size book.