National Geographic : 1990 May
NAT AL GEGAPI MAGAZINE GEGAPICA C6te d'Ivoire Church: World's Largest? For centuries, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome (GEOGRAPHIC, December 1971), consecrated in 1626, has ranked as the largest Christian church in the world. Now it has a rival for that distinction: the new basilica of Notre Dame de la Paix-Our Lady of Peace-in the city of Yamoussoukro in the West African nation of C6te d'Ivoire. It rises 525 feet to the tip of the cross atop its dome, higher than the 452-foot dome of St. Peter's. Built in only three years, it has what may be the largest stained-glass window ensemble in the world and can seat 7,000 worshipers, with room for another 11,000 standees inside. St. Peter's, on the other hand, can accom modate 50,000 people. Yamoussoukro is a city with about 100,000 residents that has been Cote d'Ivoire's designated capital since the early 1980s. Not coincidentally, it is the birthplace of the country's president, F6lix Houphouet-Boigny, who has led the nation since it achieved indepen dence from France in 1960. Like some 12 percent of C6te d'Ivoire residents, the president, who ordered the basilica built and personally paid for its con struction, is a Roman Catholic. More than half of the population practices animism (GEOGRAPHIC, July 1982). Finding Another Victim on the Little Bighorn e was about five feet eight and between 30 and 40 years old when he was killed on the Little Bighorn River in June 1876. He had been struck in the face, perhaps by a lance or a gun barrel, probably while trying to retreat with Maj. Marcus Reno after a failed attack on an Indian village. A few miles away a larger PATRICKROBERT,SYGMA group of Seventh U. S. Cavalry troops under Lt. Col. George Armstrong Cus ter was about to be wiped out by a large Sioux-Cheyenne force (GEOGRAPHIC, December 1986). But who was he? The soldier's remains were found just outside Custer Battlefield Nation al Monument in Montana last sum mer by volunteers on a day off from their main task: excavating what was thought to be a major equipment dump from the Battle of the Little Bighorn, one of the most famous battles ever fought on American soil. The dump site yielded little of consequence, but the remains of the trooper produced yet another mystery. Douglas C. McChristian, the monu ment historian, says that, after a search of military records, the newly found soldier could be one of two members of Major Reno's battalion: Pvt. William Moodie or Sgt. Edward Botzer. But there are no known photographs of either man to compare with the recon- JIM RICHARDSON,WESTLIGHT struction of the soldier's face to help identify him. "There's always a chance we can find a photograph in a dusty attic somewhere," McChristian says. "You never know." A Chinese Locomotive Steams into Iowa Leaders of a tourist railroad in Boone, SIowa, were eager to find a steam Locomotive to carry passengers on an 11-mile excursion through the Des Moines River Valley. Then the March 1988 GEOGRAPHIC arrived at the home of Aaron Keller, one of the railroad's founders. In it he saw Bruce Dale's photographs and read Paul Theroux's description of a Chinese factory, the Datong Locomotive Works. Keller called a Chinese trade official DAVIDC. PETERSON and told him the Boone & Scenic Val ley Railroad wanted to buy a locomo tive. And so, last December, a group of Chinese engineers arrived in Boone to fire up a JF-model Chinese-built steam locomotive for the first time and show Iowans how to operate it. The locomo tive's cost? Says Keller: "$355,000, delivered." The railroad raised funds by selling unlimited travel on the line to major donors and first-day rides to other contributors. It also obtained a grant, funded by the state lottery, designed to support local economic development. Chinese officials said this was the last steam locomotive to be made at the Datong works. They're switching over to diesel locomotives, leaving only one firm regularly making steam locomo tives in China and, as Theroux wrote, the Chinese "are definitely the last people on earth still making steam locomotives."