‘Railroading Religion,’ with David Walker [MIPodcast #108]

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When railroads started making their way across the western frontier of the United States in the 1800s, many Americans thought it would destroy the religion known as “Mormonism.” Brigham Young, then-president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, disagreed, declaring, “It must be a damned poor religion if it can’t stand one railroad!” Young turned out to be right. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not only survived, but flourished in its mountain home. But it didn’t emerge from its railroad battles unchanged.

In this episode, Dr. David Walker joins us to talk about his latest book Railroading Religion: Mormons, Tourists, and the Corporate Spirit of the West. It’s a more fascinating and more humorous story than you might expect, so stay with us.

About the Guest

David Walker is associate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His work focuses on intersections of religion, settlement policy, technology, and popular culture in the long nineteenth century (c. 1780-1920). His latest book is Railroading Religion: Mormons, Tourists, and the Corporate Spirit of the West.

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