The Chautauqua Institution in Western New York hosts over 100,000 people per year in ecumenical pursuit of learning and the arts. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Chautauqua Circuit took famous lecturers beyond New York throughout North America. But Chautauqua was founded in 1874 as the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, a Protestant training camp for Sunday School teachers.
In the 1800s, there was no state of Israel, it was the Palestine territory of the Ottoman Empire. The lack of airplanes made travel to the Land of the Bible expensive and very time-consuming. Rev. W.W. Wythe built the original “Palestine Park” as an instructional tool to teach Bible geography. ‘Pilgrims’ would arrive by ferryboat, landing in the Park, and would ‘ascend’ to Jerusalem.
Over the years the model of the Holy Land was expanded to its present size (longer than a football field). According to Jesse Hurlbut’s “Guide Book to Palestine Park” the scale is 1.75 feet to the mile (3000:1), with an exaggerated elevation scale of 13 feet to the mile (400:1).
Among the many early visitors to Palestine Park was the hymnist P.P. Bliss & his wife before they perished in 1876.