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Celebrating Founder's Day

NEW HARMONY, Utah — New Harmony, a small but growing community located in southern Utah between Cedar City and St. George, held its first Founder's Day Celebration on Sept. 3, at the town park with a musical production titled, "I See Our Zion."

Written and directed by Joan Ford, a local resident, the musical celebrated the 150th anniversary of the completion of Fort Harmony by early settlers in 1855.

New Harmony is among the oldest settlements in Utah. Parley P. Pratt and a company of 50 men explored the area in 1847, saying, "This is as far south as we will go. For now, this will be the southernmost settlement. We will leave that country," he said, pointing southward, "to the rattlesnakes and tarantulas."

A fort was being built on Ash Creek in 1852, according to a Dec. 8, Deseret News article. Two years later, in 1854, Orson Pratt recommended to Brigham Young that a fort be built four miles to the north, which was completed in 1855. The fort was weakened by an earthquake on Jan. 15, 1860. Almost two years later, after heavy rains fell for about 40 days, Fort Harmony began to wash away and finally collapsed, killing two children of prominent settler and leader John D. Lee.

The town of New Harmony, as it is today, was then built west of the fort against Pine Mountain after residents of the fort drew lots sending half of them to establish the town of Kanarraville to the east.

"New Harmony is a magical place," said Sister Ford. "I felt from the moment that we moved here that its spectacular scenery was musical."