Sawdust trail

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The sawdust trail or the sawdust circuit consisted of a series of temporary buildings or tents used by itinerant ministers for revival meetings.[1]

History[edit]

Tabernacle floors were covered with sawdust to dampen the noise of shuffling feet (as well as for its pleasant smell and its ability to hold down the dust of dirt floors), and coming forward during the invitation became known as "hitting the sawdust trail."[2]

Usage[edit]

  • "The Rev. William A. (Billy) Sunday, one of the most noted evangelists of the old 'sawdust trail,' died suddenly tonight of a heart attack in the home of his brother-in-law, William J. Thompson, a florist.[3]

Sunday repeatedly used the metaphor throughout his career. He told his audiences to "hit the sawdust trail" and give their lives to Jesus. At his revival meetings, "trail hitters" would walk up the center aisle strewn with sawdust and shake Sunday's hand as a public manifestation of their conversion experience.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Random House Dictionary
  2. ^ Firstenberger, 37; McLoughlin, 97; Dorsett, 91-92. The term was first used in a Sunday campaign in Bellingham, Washington, in 1910. Apparently, "hitting the sawdust trail" had first been used by loggers in the Pacific Northwest to describe following home a trail of previously dropped sawdust through an uncut forest — a metaphor for coming from, in Nell Sunday's words, "a lost condition to a saved condition."
  3. ^ "Billy Sunday Dies; Evangelist Was 71; Former Ball Player Induced Thousands To 'hit Sawdust Trail' To Conversion". New York Times. November 7, 1935. Retrieved 2010-07-09. The Rev. William A. (Billy) Sunday, one of the most noted evangelists of the old "sawdust trail," died suddenly tonight of a heart attack in the home of his brother-in-law, William J. Thompson, a florist. He had been in poor health since February, 1933, but had remained moderately active until last night when he went to bed complaining of "queer pains." 
  4. ^ Randall Balmer, Encyclopedia of evangelicalism 2002 p 506