Saturday, December 29, 2018

New Harmony Indiana Visit

During this Christmas break, my father and I visited New Harmony, Indiana. It was a center for Indiana geology in the early 1800s. If you visit, I would suggest first visiting the Anthenem Visitor Center and look at their fossil display on the 2nd level. They have some quite nice fossils and plates from David Dale Owen's reports from the 1800s.

First a little history, the settlement was founded in 1814 by George Rapp (1757-1847) and his religious followers. After leaving Germany in 1804 and creating an earlier town called Harmonie in Pennsylvania, they sold it to Mennonites and used the proceeds to build Harmony, Indiana on the Wabash River. Once they built this town up, it was sold to Robert Owen for his Utopian experiment. They used the money from this transaction to create one last town called Economy, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh). They were known as the Harmony Society and one can learn more of their fascinating history on Wikipedia.

Robert Owen (1771-1858) was an industrialist from Britain that wanted to create a secular communitarian settlement in America. He enlisted the help of William Maclure (1763-1840) . They ended up failing for a lot of reasons which can be read about on Wikipedia. It did attract and produce a number of geologists for the midwestern United States. William Maclure considered the 'father of American geology' by publishing the first geological map of the country. David Dale Owen (1807-1860) first state geologist for Kentucky, Arkansas, and Indiana. Gerard Troost first state geologist for Tennessee and professor at College of Nashville. Thomas Say (1787-1834) a well published naturalist, he named the genus Pentremites of blastoid fossils.  Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778-1860), was a naturalist and artist who worked with Thomas Say. Richard Owen (1810-1890) was the second Indiana state geologist and first president of Purdue University.

We visited a number of other sites while there. A more modern structure is an open air church that is quite unique. There is also a maze not far away that has religious meaning. Its pattern can be seen on buildings and items around town.

David Dale Owen's 4th geological laboratory that is now a private residence. It is hard to get a good picture of it due to it is surrounded by walls and trees. I hope to have a later blog post about its weather vane. In the yard next to this house, is Thomas Says burial mound.

The building is also next to the Rapp Granary built in 1818, which later became another Owen geological laboratory.

David Dale Owen and his brother Roberts graves are located on the edge of town in Maple Hill Cemetery. The main stone is the center just has his name and under it the word GEOLOGIST.

The last building is the Working Men's Institute. The institution was created by Robert Maclure to allow common people to get knowledge. The building housed a library and museum. We ran out of time to visit but they have geological displays showing fossils and minerals.

Here is a video link to a 10 minute video that describes the Institute.