The advent of railroads, in a new country especially, means a revival of industry, the building of towns, the settlement of the country, and a larger opportunity for church extension.
The Union Pacific, Burlington & Missouri river, Missouri Pacific, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, and Chicago & North-Western railroads have covered the state with a network of iron rails. Their lines extend not only across the state as part of great trunk systems, but the Burlington especially has established lines all over the state with the capital city as a center, and has brought remote regions into easy communication with the great centers of trade, Omaha and Lincoln. The Missouri Pacific has developed a part of the richest portion of the state. The Rock Island railroad crosses a rich portion of the state. The North-Western extends up the Elkhorn valley and on into the northwest. These roads, built for the commercial development of the country and as money getters for the companies controlling them, stand also in close relation to the growth of the kingdom of God in the state.
What would become of the cattle industry in the sandhills and the mission churches established therein without the Burlington railroad? The beautiful Elkhorn valley and the regions beyond would not be nearly so attractive without the North-Western railroad, and two at least of our Christian schools would cease to be. The Union Pacific has made the Platte valley a rich part of the state. Whatever else they may be, these roads are the agents of the
A NEW ERA IN CHURCH DEVELOPMENT
churches in the development of new life. It meant much then to congregational Nebraska, and especially to Omaha, when in November, 1863, President Lincoln designated Omaha as the location for the entrance of the Union Pacific railroad into the state.
The announcement of this was received in Omaha by telegraph the second day of December, and the grading of the road in eastern Nebraska began in the spring of 1864.1 Towns sprang up; churches were multiplied; new fields called loudly for more attention than could possibly be given by one or several men who had pastoral charges. It was a situation very similar to the more recent one in Oklahoma. The King's business required haste; we needed missionaries to "ride on the cow-catchers," and get in a town ahead of the saloon, and there must be some man to look after the work. Who should do it? There was one man so well qualified with native endowment and by experience for this general work that no one else was thought of. This man was Reuben Gaylord.
© 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller