Today on our field trip, John and I visited Pine Valley, about 40 miles northeast of St. George. This valley was settled in 1856 when large stands of huge pine trees were found there in this relatively isolated valley. These tall pines provided lumber for the St. George Temple, its tabernacle and the organ pipes of the famous Salt Lake Tabernacle.
The Pine Valley Chapel was completed in 1868 and is the oldest Mormon chapel still in continuous use. Ebenezer Bryce, a Scottish shipbuilder, was the chapel’s architect. He built the chapel of local pine, setting it on a foundation of granite and limestone. The attic of this chapel was constructed as a ship’s hull turned upside down. Each of the walls was constructed flat on the ground, then hoisted up and tied with strips of green rawhide that tightened as it dried.
I loved feeling the Pioneer Spirit in this building. We were able to walk through the chapel, the upstairs meeting room, and see the attic with its exposed beams and ship-like construction. Outside to the east stood the old red brick Tithing Building, another reminder of our pioneer heritage and the sacrifices the early Saints made to love and serve one another.
One fun detail I enjoyed hearing about had to do with the pew benches in the first photo below. These benches on the main floor were not original to this chapel. They are from the same time period, but they were brought in from the chapel in Beaver, Utah. That means it’s very possible that they are the benches Theodore Turley sat on in Beaver. He lived there during that exact time period! I thought about sliding across each bench to feel for his vibes, but I decided I’d better refrain and listen to the tour guide!