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First Baptist Church train-car chapel in Rawlins now 85 years old

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RAWLINS, Wyo. (AP) — An unusual church built from an old train chapel car in Rawlins is celebrating 85 years off the tracks.

The First Baptist Church in Rawlins was founded in 1925. The rounded-top doors came from the car, which was built in 1891 and served as a chapel for 34 years. The majority of the building's wainscoting came from the chapel car's original wood. From the basement, the bottom of the frame of the Evangel is still visible, replete with scorch marks from a 1950s fire.

Church members have also assembled a room matching the chapel car's original dimensions and put photos and letters on display.

"There's all kinds of history here," church member Jenita Calton said. "Ten years ago, it wasn't even organized. At least now we have it all in one room."

The church started with just 29 members. It has been featured in the book "This Train is Bound for Glory: The Story of America's Chapel Cars."

Congregants say the church's membership has declined in recent years, and they're hoping the anniversary celebration rekindles interest. The church's 27th pastor, the Rev. Harvey Hansen, said the church attracted about 100 congregants a week in the early 1990s, but only about a third of that today.