sawdust trail

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Probably an allusion to the sawdust which covered the floors of the tents in which religious revival meetings were often held.


sawdust trail ‎(plural sawdust trails)

  1. (idiomatic, dated) The route followed by an itinerant Christian preacher in the United States.
    • 1935, Nov. 7, "Billy Sunday Dies; Evangelist Was 71; Former Ball Player Induced Thousands To 'hit Sawdust Trail' To Conversion", New York Times:
      The Rev. William A. (Billy) Sunday, one of the most noted evangelists of the old "sawdust trail," died suddenly tonight of a heart attack in the home of his brother-in-law, William J. Thompson, a florist.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension, dated) The path to spiritual redemption or salvation, especially as involving attendance at Christian revival meetings presided over by itinerant preachers in the United States.
    • 1920, William MacLeod Raine, The Big-Town Round-Up, ch. 3:
      Mr. Bernstein explained that this was not obligatory. All he meant was that the suit was good enough to be married in, or for that matter to be buried in.
      "Or to be born anew in when Billy Sunday comes to town and I hit the sawdust trail," suggested the purchaser.


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