NEW HARMONY ADVENTURES
Though New Harmony , Indiana seems a remote destination to many of the state’s trail users, its history and attraction to art, science, spiritual quests, writers, and those seeking small-town solitude have kept it a major landmark in its own peaceful way.
There are several trail groupings in this area: in the town of New Harmony, the trails of New Harmonie State Park, and the incomplete Posey Rail Trail. In addition, there are also trails to be found at Evansville , some 25 miles southeast of New Harmony (see separate listing for Evansville Trails).
When you visit historic New Harmony, expect a walk or ride through history in this Wabash River community. There are some 2 2/3 miles of trail in New Harmony itself. These are of various surface types: stone or paved, natural surfaces, and some on existing roads. Trails here are open to walking, bicycling, and non-motorized transport; golf carts may be used as well. Keep in mind some trails may flood, as this area is located in the Wabash River flood plain. Some trails go past log buildings and town highlights, others follow the river as mentioned; there are also wooded tracts along the way. A public boat launch and separate canoe launch ramp are available.
Trails in and around the town reflect its history and culture. New Harmony had two incarnations as a communal living experiment. The first was the most successful: the industrious Harmonists who first broke from the German Lutheran Church and settled in Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. Seeking a larger tract of land, they moved to the Indiana territory, founding the village of Harmony , where they lived from 1814 to about 1825. A good number of historic buildings still exist. The community was able to prosper, selling agricultural and other goods to U. S. cities and abroad.
When the Harmonists decided to move back to Pennsylvania , they sold their town and lands to Welsh idealist Robert Owen. It was Owen’s goal to create a more equal and just society, through free education and removing social barriers, such as class and unequal income distribution. The town’s organizers—rechristening it as New Harmony —in this period tried and experimented with various government and philosophical tinkering. They did succeed in influencing education and scientific progress in some regards, especially in geology and archaeology; however, disagreement among participants led to a demise after just a few years. Their New Harmony experiment dissolved less than five years later, though the interests and research of some of the residents continued on.
For trail users and travelers who have never visited New Harmony before, a trip to the Athenaeum visitors’ center is worth it in order to find maps, tours available, events, and other items of interest, and get familiar with what and where you wish to explore. There are not only historic buildings, but labyrinths, art studios, museum((s)), and a number of events throughout the year.
NEW HARMONIE STATE PARK AND POSEY TRAIL
The park is located just four miles south of New Harmony . There are eight miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to moderate, and covering grassy areas, forest, streams, and the Wabash River area. The park also includes some 3½ miles of horse trails, as well as three miles of bike trails through woods areas and adjacent to a park road. Guided hikes are available mid-May through August, and there are Junior Naturalist and Hoosier Ecologist programs available.
The Posey Trail will eventually cover some eleven miles, when completed. So far, though, it stretches a little over one-half mile on the Illinois side at Grayville.