Photo: JP Moore 1999


When Red Canyon Range Camp closed in August 1959, everything was supposed to be torn down and removed. Everything, that is, except the chapel, concrete foundation pads for buildings and down range underground bunkers. The chapel could not be dismantled because of the way it was built. Everybody left the camp and the chapel sat in solitude overlooking the desert.

In 1961, the chapel was discovered to be missing! Only the concrete pad and the stone steps remained. The chapel had vanished. No one knew what had happened to it and rumors circulated ranging from "it was stolen" to "aliens from Roswell, NM had beamed it up" to "God came down and took it back." In the June 1972 issue of Soldiers Magazine there was a full-page story on the disappearance and an appeal for information. Again, the little chapel at Red Canyon was in the national headlines as newspapers picked up the story and gave it full coverage. The Army had no records of what had happened to it. It was a genuine mystery.

Then, in the December 1972 issue of Soldiers Magazine, the answer appeared. Captain William Sidell, USA Retired, (the same MSgt Sidell who had supervised the building of the chapel) had supervised the dismantling of the camp. He told the magazine that the chapel was sold through regular property disposal channels to a man in Los Alamos, NM. Soldier Magazine researched it and wrote this: "The chapel was sold to Mr. R.E.Waterman of Los Alamos, NM. He wanted to move it in one piece but due to the type construction (ammo crates, rails, rocket boosters, et al) was forced to disassemble it. It was never put together again. The chapel was sold piece by piece and a spokesman for Mr. Waterman states: 'All in all we lost $10,000 on the deal. We decided God was against us and that our company would never buy another church or chapel again."

This 1999 photo was taken standing on the chapel pad facing east. The round holes used to hold those beautiful columns. The concrete foundation farther out was the supply (S-4) building.

RIP, little chapel.

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