Clarion

Name:

Clarion

County:

Sanpete

Zip Code:

 

Latitude / Longitude:

39°07’20″N 111°53’11″W

Elevation:

 

Time Zone:

Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)

Comments:

Clarion is a ghost town in Sanpete County, Utah, United States. Lying about 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Gunnison, Clarion was the site of a brief, early-twentieth century experiment in Jewish rural living. The Clarion site was 6,085 acres (24.63 km2; 9.508 sq mi), extending 5 miles (8.0 km) north and south along the Sevier River, and approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) wide.

Remains:

For several decades, many Jewish reformers and Zionist nationalists had argued that Jews needed to become “a normal nation” and urged the abandonment of both urban living and occupations traditionally associated with Jews. This back-to-the-land movement urged Jews to find a purer life and to renounce sedentary jobs in favor of those based on manual labor. The project was funded by the Jewish Agricultural and Colonial Association of which Benjamin Brown was president and Isaac Herbst secretary. Brown organized the JACA in January 1910 and listed its primary office in Philadelphia’s West Parkside neighborhood, with 250 members, branches in New York and Baltimore, and with the express purpose of, “Settling on farms and mutual aid”.

Established:

1911

Disestablished:

1915

Current Status:

By 2008 fences had been constructed to surround the Jewish graves. There are a scattering of foundations, as well as the broken walls of the water cistern that burst and fell apart the first day colonists used it. At the time of the centenary in 2011, Brown Rex Dairy abutted the Clarion site and local residents continued to refer to the area as “Clarion” although it is in the Centerfield postal district.

Remarks:

After the demise of the Jewish colony, others moved into the area. Japanese families settled in the Clarion area in 1921, as did Mormons of Scandinavian descent. Brown and a few of the other Jewish colonists stayed and farmed in the area until the 1920s. There were enough persons residing in Clarion in 1925 to establish the Clarion LDS Ward. Friedland observed the Japanese families when he returned to the Clarion site in 1926. In 1932, the Clarion LDS Ward had 166 members. The Ward met in the social hall which the Jewish settlers had constructed. The LDS Ward was dissolved on April 1, 1934, “on account of the shortage of water.” World War II disrupted the Japanese settlement and the land reverted to the local citizens. By 1959 the Clarion community center had been turned into a granary. The fence surrounding the small Jewish cemetery had been torn down and cows had knocked down the headstones which marked the two graves.