Deb Copenhaver is a legendary rodeo rider. Born and raised in Wilbur, Wash., his riding career took him to famous rodeos in Cheyenne, Calgary, Fort Worth and many other places during rodeo’s golden age of the 1950s.
In 1999, his lifelong achievement won him a spot in the Ellensburg Rodeo Hall of Fame.
But Copenhaver’s faith is as important to him as his rodeo accolades, and it was to celebrate the former that he built a tiny roadside chapel on his ranch property just off U.S. Route 2 Highway 2 near Creston, Wash.
“God gave me a vision, gee, it’s been 10 years ago,” said Copenhaver, 83. “I always had that in the back of my mind. Then piece by piece God started putting it together.”
Copenhaver used cedar poles from a Bonneville Power Administration transmission line, obtained when BPA replaced them with steel towers.
The small log structure is reminiscent of a one-room schoolhouse, with its plank floors and rows of handmade benches – look carefully and you can still find a little sawdust in the corners.
A beautiful mosaic captures the light in a tall window over the rustic wooden cross on the back wall.
Where the altar would be sits a bookstand with a guestbook. Travelers from as far away as Whitefish, Mont., have signed their names.
He dedicated it in September during an annual Christian cowboy camp at his place.
“It’s just there for people to stop by,” Copenhaver said. “Everyone is welcome to come and lay your burdens at the altar and be refreshed.”