Ghost Town: Clarion, Sanpete County, Utah

Skylinerider

Moderator & Supporting Member
Site: Clarion
Alternate Names: Sample or N/A
County, State: Sanpete County, Utah
Years of Occupation: 1911-1930's
Status of Site: Open
Classification: Class 2 - Neglected Town
Type: Agriculture
Remnants: Foundations and cemetery
GPS Coordinate: 39°07′20 N 111°53′11 W
NRHP Reference#: N/A
Date of Last Visit: 11/19/2013
A group of Jewish Americans from New York and Philidelphia settled at Clarion, a few miles southwest of Gunnison. The group was led by Benjamin Brown, a Jewish Socialist. His idea was to colonize vacant land in the west with Jewish immigrants. In 1911 Brown bought 6,085 acres from the state of Utah at a price of $11.20 an acre. He also purchased water rights at $35 a share. The going was difficult at Clarion almost from the start. Only one was a farmer, the others were weavers, machinists, and other various occupations, not well suited to scraping a living from the land. Rifts both in the community of Clarion and with the local Mormon population also had a hand in the abandonment of Clarion. Wealthy philanthropists paid to transport the colonists to California. Only two remained in Utah, Brown who became a wealthy poultry grower and founder of the Utah Poultry Grower's Assoc. and Maurice Warshaw who became founder of the Grand Central retail chain. Source:The Other 49ers: A topical history of Sanpete County - Sanpete County Commission

Further Reading:
Robert Alan Goldberg, Back to the Soil: The Jewish Farmers of Clarion, Utah, and Their World (1986)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarion,_Utah
http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/ut/clarion.html
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/...tlement-lives-on-in-Jewish-hearts.html?pg=all
http://thecowlocale.com/2012/12/18/revitalizing-a-ghost-town/

Directions to Get There: N/A
 
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LiveRust

Member
Ghost Town: Clarion, UT

Site: Clarion, UT
County/State: Sanpete County, 5 miles South West of Gunnison, Utah
Occupation: 1911-1935
Status: Open
Classification: Class 1 - Barren Town
Type: Agricultural
Remnants: Foundations, cistern,
Date of Last Visit: 2012

Clarion was established as an agricultural community by a group of Jewish people of Russian decent from Philadelphia and New York in 1911. There was a large movement at that time among Jewish communities throughout the world to improve the Jewish culture through "getting back to the soil". Jewish people had been increasingly settling in large cities and it was believed that if there was an effort to encourage movement towards agricultural communities that it would improve Jewish self-confidence, destroy anti-sematic stereotypes, and encourage self-sufficiency. In addition to Clarion there were some 40 other such settlements in Argentina, Canada and Israel. Jewish investors from New York as well as Jewish Businessmen in Salt Lake City helped fund the purchase of property in Sanpete. In 1911 there were 23 families in Clarion. By 1912 there were 150 families in the community. There were two difficulties faced by the Jewish settlers. They had very little experience with farming, and there was little available water. Following a period of drought and poor production the settlement was foreclosed upon in 1915. Most of the Jewish families left at that time. Some remained behind to try to make it work. There was another influx of Japanese settlers who purchased some of the vacated farms, as well as some local citizens. One such family from nearby Manti Utah sold what property they owned in Manti to buy property in Clarion in the early 1920's. They were Ed and Hannah DeMill and their children. By 1925 the population of Clarion had grown enough that the Clarion Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized. Ed and Hannah had a baby boy born to them in Clarion in 1927 who they named Donald DeMill, my father. By 1932 there were 166 members of the Clarion Ward. My aunt wrote about going to school in Clarion where they had a two room school house. Grades 1-4 in one room and grades 5-7 in the other. Students of older grades were bussed to Gunnison to school.
They attempted to build a cistern in Clarion that evidently failed. Families in Clarion had to travel to Gunnison or nearby Centerfield to get drinking water and transport it back to Clarion.
Drought continued to plaque the settlement of Clarion and following a court settlement in which Clarion lost their rights to water from the State Canal to the town of Delta, most of the residents moved on. In 1934 the Clarion Ward was dissolved. Ed and Hannah DeMill moved into their mother's home back in Manti. Don DeMill's brother hauled the DeMill home from Clarion to Gunnision. With the internment of Japanese citizens during WWII, most of the Japanese families were removed from Clarion as well. Some of these Japanese farmers returned after the war and continue farming near Clarion today.

Additional Reading about Clarion: Back To The Soil, by Robert Goldberg
 
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Taco Blonco

Member
I have heard of this ghost town before. and have been meaning to go visit it.
I had no idea you had family that lived there. That is very cool Troy.
I always wondered how your family got started down here.
 

Taco Blonco

Member
A little more info on Clarion i ran across.

Clarion was four miles west of Centerfield and five miles southwest of Gunnison on the west side of the Sevier River. In August 1911, the Jewish Agricultural and Colonial Association of Philadelphia purchased six thousand acres of land from the Utah State Land Board. The Jewish association dispatched an engineer and an advance party of twelve men (some with families) to survey the area and prepare the ground for homes and crops. Homes, a church, and a school were built, followed by a canal, then a post office in 1915. After six years of crop failures, the colony was declared bankrupt in 1917. The soil was alkaline and inappropriate for intensive cultivation, so the settlers gradually dispensed. Japanese families then moved into the area in 1921, but World War II disrupted their settlement and the land reverted to the local citizens. Most of the foreign residents of Clarion were gone by 1934.
 

LiveRust

Member
I have heard of this ghost town before. and have been meaning to go visit it.
I had no idea you had family that lived there. That is very cool Troy.
I always wondered how your family got started down here.


we usually find a few pieces of broken dishes when we visit. It's the running joke to tease my dad about catching crap when he broke it as a kid. We don't know which foundation was their home. There is a ravine that people have dumped things in there too. My guess is most of the garbage in the dump is post Clarion days.
 

Skylinerider

Moderator & Supporting Member
I have heard of this ghost town before. and have been meaning to go visit it.
I had no idea you had family that lived there. That is very cool Troy.
I always wondered how your family got started down here.

So when are we gonna head out there? I haven't used my metal detector in a while.
 

bad luck

Member
History is fascinating, I didn't know that Jewish people worldwide were trying to get back to the land in the early twentieth century. But Israel was not created back then, so did they just settle in their ancient homeland, with hostile Muslims all around? Thanks for the information, ghost towns always have an interesting history.
 

Skylinerider

Moderator & Supporting Member
Here's some photos from a recent drive out there last week. You really have to be watching for these ruins or you will drive right past them.







 
came across a few photos of early Clarion I thought I'd add
 

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