Trails in Indiana

New Harmony Indiana - A bike ride through history & dreams.



New Harmony - A bike ride through history and dreams, covering trails around the community.

Time Length: 
7.36 minutes
New Harmony, Posey County - Indiana.

2010 / 07

Uncut script - J. Conrad
We’re in southwest Indiana , Posey County . The Wabash River . This part of Indiana is a Lower elevation. About 350 feet lower than the Region east of here. It’s a shallow glacial till Over shale and siltstone. Lots of large farms. Even recent experiments for C-0-2 storage in the rock layers. The Indiana Territory was established in 1800 From the Northwest Territory , which was part Of the region ceded to the United States after the Revolutionary War. Indiana was given statehood In 1816.
New Harmony has been a healthy, small-town Community with some 1000 residents. It has Restaurants, shops, artist studios, historic buildings, Gardens, labyrinths, a visitor center, and the Wabash River in the western edge. It was home for author Ross Lockridge, who wrote Raintree County. We’re going east away from the river. New Harmony Has two-and-two-thirds miles of gravel, natural Surface, and some paved trails. But they lead much Further than that, when you think about the town’s History of attraction. It was first a communal site.
Since then, it has drawn Scientists, artists, spiritual seekers, and writers. People Searching for quiet, for explanations . . . The trails in and around this town seem to reflect its Past—there’s a slower pace, a contemplative pace. Two years before Indiana became a state, the New Harmonists arrived out of Pennsylvania . Before that they separated from the German Lutheran Church. They came to Indiana Territory in 1814, seeking more land. They were a highly industrious, and highly religious Group, and they were mostly self-sustaining. They Successfully sold agricultural goods and other Items they made to cities in the U-S and also Overseas. The New Harmonists were at this location until About 1825. Eventually, they decided to move Back to Pennsylvania.

They sold their town and property to a Welsh Idealist named Robert Owen. Owen’s group Wanted to create a more just society. They Provided, for example, free education. And They tried to remove class from society by Having equal income distribution. They also tinkered with various governing Organizations. But there was a lot of Disagreement, no matter what philosophical Arrangement they tried. The experiment folded In less than five years. The people who stayed, however, have influenced Education, as well as the disciplines of archaeology and geology.
Despite fairly short-lived experiments, the New Harmony area continues to attract people, for its Past lessons to humanity, maybe to experience for A time what was and what could be. This small community has two outdoor labyrinths. The New Harmonists’ settlement built the first one With living plants for the borders. It was rebuilt Near its original location. A second labyrinth Was constructed only recently, made with etched Granite surfaces. Labyrinths are a tradition going back thousands Of years. They are found in many cultures and Locations all over the world. They’re a form of Walking meditation, where you let go of your Everyday thoughts and emotions.
Beginning at Main Street , we go to the river and Turn south or left. You can’t really come to New Harmony without experiencing the Wabash River. The Wabash starts in Ohio . There’s a dam at Huntington, Indiana on Roush Lake . But after That, it’s over 400 miles of just river—the longest Free-flowing river east of the Mississippi . Its name derives from Miami Indian language And refers to the white floor under the water. Further north, the river’s bottom is limestone, or It was. Today, however, erosion and siltation have Obscured this Wabash River character. At the end of this trail is a cul-de-sac. There you Turn around and head back the other way.
The New Harmonists built a maze for meditation, but the trails here mimic that idea. If you want an overview of what New Harmony is About or what to see, try the Athenaeum—it’s the Visitor Center. You can find exhibits, books, events. Also, restrooms. The building was meant to be Distinguishable from the other, historic New Harmony Structures, and it fulfills that purpose.
Going further south, under a toll bridge, the trail Circles around to the visitor center parking lot. The Wabash is a short walk away. Before New Harmony was ever conceived of, this waterway Was quite important in prehistoric times. There were a number of sites along it in the Southwest Indiana region. Archaeologists From Owen’s group studied here back in the 1800s.
The Roofless Church was a project of Jane Owen. The Idea here was that the sky was the only real roof for All of the world’s seekers. It was completed by Architect Philip Johnson in 1960. It’s currently Under the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, but is Non-denominational. The sculpture inside is of an inverted rosebud. Its shadow falls below it and resembles a blooming Rose. The rose was a symbol of the original Harmonists who came to settle here in 1814.

So, it’s a small town. It’s pretty isolated. But it’s Always attracted people. The prehistory and Historic Native American cultures, the pioneer Settlers, society’s reformers. And all along, a Surprising mix of science, philosophies, Spiritual seekers, and artists. It’s a place to allow a person to sit and think. Or maybe to let go. I guess it’s a place you have To experience.