Near Madison in Lake County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Chapel Car Emmanuel
As communities were born and grew quickly with the westward expansion of the railroads, they were often wild and lawless places, commonly void of churches to serve their burgeoning populations. These cars provided a much-needed venue for worship, Sunday school, weddings, funerals, baptisms, and counseling. Emmanuel was attended by people of all denominations and is credited with starting 51 congregations and the baptism of more than 4000 people.
The car's chapel area seated 80-100 people, with as many as 150 children sometimes crowded in for Sunday school. The missionaries who traveled with Emmanuel lived in the cramped 9' x 18' front quarters with few amenities: an upper and lower berth for sleeping, a desk, a fold-down table, a closet-sized kitchen with overhead water tank, and a toilet opening to the tracks below.
The second of the Baptist cars built at a cost of $7500.00, Emmanuel traveled
After its final church service in 1942, Emmanuel's ownership changed several times, with the car utilized as a storage shed, a meeting site, and briefly in youth ministry. Emmanuel was moved to Prairie Village in 1972 and was subsequently restored. One of only a few chapel cars remaining in existence, her very survival is quite remarkable. Emmanuel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and represents an important and uncommon chapter of the settling of the American West.
May 1893 Emmanuel is dedicated at the annual Baptist convention in Denver, Colorado. It then sets out immediately for California, commencing a 49-year missionary journey of the West.
August 1895 While Emmanuel undergoes repairs in Sacramento, California, its first pastor, Rev. E.G. Wheeler, is killed in
August 1930 Emmanuel is struck by lightning in Colorado, resulting in a fire which seriously damages its interior and requires extensive repairs.
February 1942 Emmanuel's final church service is held in South Fork, Colorado.
July 1942 Emmanuel is moved to the South Dakota Bible Camp at Swan Lake near Viborg, South Dakota, where it eventually serves as space for meetings, services, and missionary lodging.
August 1942 Emmanuel is officially retired.
January 1943 Emmanuel is sold to the South Dakota Baptist Convention for one dollar.
October 1972 Emmanuel is moved to Prairie Village.
September 1976 Emmanuel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
May 1983 Governor William Janklow declares May 22 "Chapel Car Emmanuel Day" in South Dakota.
July 2018 Historic marker is unveiled and dedicated as Emmanuel turns 125 years old.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & Religion • Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1893.
Location. 44° 0.335′ N, 97° 10.192′ W. Marker is near Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 45205 SD-34, Madison SD 57042, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Ash Grove Seventh-Day Adventist Church (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Thormodsgaard Log Home (about 700 feet away); Historic Cabin (approx. one mile away); The 37-Star Flag (approx. one mile away); Luce Historic Cabin Restoration Project (approx. one mile away); Wm. H.H. Beadle (approx. 2.9 miles away); Madison State Normal School The Great War Honor Roll (approx. 2.9 miles away); Old Madison – First County Seat (approx. 5.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Madison.
Also see . . . Chapel Car Emmanuel – Historic Prairie Village. (Submitted on September 5, 2022.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2022. This page has been viewed 87 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 4, 2022.