The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 160

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Southwestern Historical Quarterly

faculty, and various categories of students. The inclusion of a map would
have been helpful considering the many detailed geographic references
which have little meaning to someone not intimately acquainted with Bay-
lor or Independence.
Mary Hardin-Baylor College STEWART D. SMITH
The Main Trail. By Ralph J. Hall. (San Antonio: Naylor Company, 1972.
Pp. xiii+ 193. Illustrations. $7.95.)
Ralph J. Hall touched the soul of the twentieth-century West as few
other preachers before him. The Main Trail, which highlights his experi-
ences in the Southwest, is his personal, human memoir of the life of a Pres-
byterian Sunday School missionary.
During his almost fifty-year ministry, which began in New Mexico in
191 o, Hall traveled two million miles, often journeying to the ends of trails
where few preachers had ever been. In these remote places, he held several
services in a few days' time, comforted those in despair, organized new
churches, made a hand at roundups, and helped construct buildings and
roads. This twentieth-century counterpart of the circuit rider was just as
versatile as his legendary predecessor.
In 1927 Hall inaugurated the youth-camp conference when, during the
summer, he traveled through much of the West holding camp meetings to
bring the children from the isolated ranches and farms together for fellow-
ship. This experience blossomed into the traveling camp seminar, where
easterners observed mission work first hand, and into the Nogal Mesa (New
Mexico) camp conference for cowboys and ranch families. Hall succeeded
so well in bringing the Gospel to the remote and vast Southwest that, in
1940, he became director of the Presbyterian Church's Sunday School mis-
sionary work west of the Mississippi River, a position he held for the re-
maining fifteen years of his ministry. Hall now lives in retirement in Santa
Fe.
Because the author's papers have been lost, The Main Trail, a highly
entertaining reminiscence written with verve and humor, must serve as the
principal record of Ralph Hall's interesting career. But, excepting that
Hall's story begins with his youth and ends with his retirement, it proceeds
in neither chronological nor topical order. Furthermore, the book contains
no index. Consequently, the work may frustrate all but the casual reader.

160o

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974, periodical, 1973/1974; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/m1/178/ocr/: accessed September 30, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.