There is just something about utopian communities that pings my heart. The dream of living in total harmony with your neighbors and community is a noble cause indeed. Two of those attempts are recorded a little more than an hour from my homestead. New Harmony Indiana was first settled by George Rapp in 1814, a full two years before the founding of the State. It was a religious settlement and as was typical of the time they were escaping the Lutheran church in Germany.
The Indiana settlement only lasted for eleven years and in 1824 they sold the community to Robert Owen of Scotland who went about creating a “New Moral World” settlement and invited anyone who shared his dream to join him. His plan was to achieve perfection through education and communal living. Owen’s idea only lasted two years before disbanding. It is said that the failure was due to the makeup of the community. There were many worthy people with the highest ideals but there were simply too many who were adventurers, rascals, and lazy theorists.
Although Robert Owen’s vision of New Harmony as an advance in social reform was not realized, the town did become a scientific center of national significance, especially in the natural sciences, most notably geology. More than 30 structures from the Harmonist and Owenite utopian communities remain as part of the New Harmony Historic District, which is a National Historic Landmark
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