I finally made it to New Harmony, Indiana, after thinking I wanted to visit here for a number of years.  It is located on the Wabash River in southwest Indiana about equal distance between Evansville and Terre Haute.  It is a lovely small town, with a fascinating history.  It has gone through many permutations in its 200 year history, and has stayed a vital community because it was able to adjust to an ever-changing world.

New Harmony was founded in 1814 by a group of 800 Pietists from Wurttenburg, Germany, led by George Rapp.  They called themselves the Harmonists, hence the name of the town.  They believed the second coming of Christ was imminent, and they strove to live a life of Christian perfection, so they would be ready.  They created a highly ordered and productive community that was entirely self-sufficient.  They decided to relocate to Pennsylvania in 1824.  There are a number of their early buildings remaining

George Rapp found a buyer for his town in Robert Owen, a wealthy industrialist of Welsh descent who wanted to establish a model community where education and social equality would create an ideal society.  Unfortunately, Owen’s :Community of Equality”  only lasted until 1827, due to personal conflicts and a lack of people who could carry out the actual labor of a community.  Ideals ran up against reality and it all fell apart.  While the Utopian ideal failed, the town continued, and many famous and important people came from here:  Robert Dale was a member of Congress and helped establish the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.; David Dale was a geologist who surveyed a number of western states and helped open up the development of the midwest; Richard Owen served as the first President of Purdue University.  The town remained prosperous due to the richness of the soil, and was an important farming community during the rest of the 1800’s and into the 1900’s.  The community always maintained its sense of reverence for its utopian history, and that reverence continues even today.

Today, New Harmony has reinvented itself once more, and is a center for the Health and Wholeness movement of today.