LYNCHBURG IS A CITY OF CHURCH STEEPLES. THIS IS THE WAY IT HAS BEEN SINCE IT RECEIVED ITS CHARTER IN 1786, and the way it has been described by travellers over the last two centuries. Churches everywhere with a God-fearing population to fill them.
There is also another Lynchburg. In the 1920’s, Lynchburg was said to have had more whorehouses, gambling joints, and booze establishments than any other city east of the Mississippi.
Billy Sunday Comes To Town
Billy Sunday came to town. He couldn’t believe what he saw. He vowed that he wouldn’t leave Lynchburg until it changed.
Putting action to his words he rented the fairgrounds near where Timberlake Road and the Airport Road meet, set up a tent, put sawdust on the ground, and started to preach – sunny days, rainy days, cold-wet-snowy-winter days, sweltering hot summer days – Billy Sunday preached under that big tent. He preached all the things the establishment churches didn’t preach. Sometimes he preached to a handful, at other times he preached to overflowing crowds.
One at a time, non-establishment Lynchburgers (and some establishment ones) walked the sawdust trail and accepted God’s Commandments to rule their lives. Gradually people stopped going to whorehouses, saloons, and gambling joints. One at a time these establishments closed up for the lack of customers. When Billy Sunday left Lynchburg, Lynchburg had changed. While “establishment Lynchburg” was the same, the rest had changed. Lynchburg was different.