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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

SLI Opened at the Lake in 1873 as Camp Wesley with Notable Gateway

Photo Courtesy of Perry Public Library (Digitalised Section)
Back when most roads were dirt roads (even in some urban areas), the railroad was THE way to go. This Gateway construction served at least four significant purposes: (1) in a vast undeveloped area, it identified where the Campground was; (2) served as a railroad station during the early years before the station was built; (3) It was the place to pay the entry fee to the grounds; and (4) was the respectable "welcome center" worthy of the name Methodist.

The earliest photo of the Gateway was dated "about 1875." The above photo has been dated 1880-1890 with question marks around it. It is logical to assume that Camp Wesley was built in 1872 which is the year of the purchase from farmer Chapman. In the summer of 1872, a large volunteer crew of Methodists flooded the undeveloped campgrounds with manual labor and cut out the first roads, built the Gateway, the Pavilion (also known as the Preachers' Stand), the benches for seating, and part, if not all, of the fencing. 

Boardwalks were popular and particularly useful during rainy periods. It is also estimated that the fencing may have been constructed during this first summer, giving further significance to the Gateway. The goal of that first summer was to thoroughly prepare the grounds for public use in 1873 which was the first year for the camp meetings to begin. Some of the tent platforms may also have been put up that first "preparation summer."

Comment Received: "Best view I’ve seen of main gate near RR stop." Nancy Sellar

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