‘Abdu’l-Bahá Crosses the Continental Divide 1
‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ, AS WAS HIS usual practice, arose from his bed before dawn at the Shirley Hotel, Broadway and 17th Street, Denver, on Friday, September 27, 1912. He said goodbye to a number of early visitors and then took an automobile — perhaps a carriage — fourteen blocks northwest to the train station.
A wall of rock still separated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from the Golden State. In 1912 the advanced technologies of the century of motion had not yet fully subdued the Rocky Mountains; the cliffs due west of Denver were still too steep for the railway to climb. The train that departed Union Station at 9 a.m. that morning, therefore, headed due south, skirted the treed foothills of the eastern edge of the Front Range, and completed the first leg of its long and winding route to Salt Lake City when it reached Colorado Springs, seventy miles from Denver.
The snow-capped summit of Pikes Peak receded into the distance as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s train continued south across the desert toward Pueblo. The town of Pueblo, Colorado, which produced both steel and saddles, bridged not only the Arkansas River, but also the changing transportation technologies of the era. From there the railroad jackknifed right, pulled west around the southern tip of the Front Range, and began to make a slow, 640-foot ascent to Canon City, nestled among the low mountains.
The route of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway snaked northwest along the Arkansas River, threaded the needle of Royal Gorge, and then climbed a full mile straight upward toward Leadville, Colorado, the highest incorporated city in the United States, at 10,152 feet. …
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Glenwood Springs on the train about midnight and arrived in Salt Lake City the next afternoon, September 28, where an agricultural convention was in progress. Newspaper reporters, learning that He was unexpectedly in the city, sought Him out the following morning and interviewed Him. Then He visited the agricultural exposition, looking at the equipment for ploughing and irrigation, asking about their uses and prices, and surveying the displays of vegetables, grains, and fruits. He bought some seeds to send to the Holy Land.
Saturday, September 28, 1912 3
The train passed through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Some of these rose precipitously like walls from the railway bed, formidable and immense. Gazing at their summits one felt as if the mountains would fall down. There were some special roofless observation cars on the train so that passengers might have a full view of the majestic mountains. In these observation cars the passengers could see the mountains on the right and the serene river on the left. As the train passed through these beautiful scenes, the Master said:
“Dear friends, the waves of the bounties of the Blessed Beauty are surging. As I look I see the ocean of His favor swelling and saying, ‘I am with you.’ Truly, were it not for these glad tidings and His assistance, what could I have done? Just one person alone in the east and west of America, in the mountains and wilderness –it is no light matter. It is easy to say these things but it was unimaginable that they would let us into these churches. See how His aid and favor descend upon us. This trip fills us with wonder! Offer thanks to the Blessed Beauty that He has bestowed such confirmations upon us.”
Later, the Master told stories about the time of Muhammad, the Messenger of God, and mentioned the cave and His words, ‘God is indeed with us’.
The train reached Salt Lake City in the afternoon. The Master decided to stay in the city for one night. By chance, even as the city was being blessed by His footsteps, a large national agricultural convention was being held and the entire city was festively decorated.
24 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mrs. Sidney E. Roberts , Denver, Colorado 4
This evening we were speaking of the fellowship and unity of the Persian Bahá’ís. They can truly be called lovers. For example, if one of the friends of God arrived in their city, all the friends would rejoice and assemble together in a meeting with him. If he were ill, they would care for him; if sad, they would comfort him. They would care for him in every way and give unmistakable evidence that there is a spiritual relationship amongst them.
Strangers and outsiders are astonished at this love and radiant affection existing among the Bahá’ís. They inquire about it. They observe the unity and agreement manifest among them. They say, “What a beautiful spirit shines in their faces!” All envy it and wish that such a bond of love might be witnessed everywhere. Therefore, to you my first admonition is this: Associate most kindly with all; be as one family; pursue this same pathway. Let your intentions be one that your love may permeate and affect the hearts of others so that they may grow to love each other and all attain to this condition of oneness.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
“This trip fills us with wonder! Offer thanks to the Blessed Beauty …”
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Crosses the Continental Divide.” 239 Days in America, 28 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/28/abdul-baha-crosses-the-continental-divide/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 158-159. ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=7#section188 ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 336-337. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#961584862 ↩