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December 10, 2018


The historic town of New Harmony is located along the Wabash River in Posey County, Indiana, and served as a focal point for natural scientists, especially geologists, in the early nineteenth century. Notable geologists that lived and worked in New Harmony during this time include Edward Travers Cox, William Maclure, Fielding Bradford Meek, Joseph Granville Norwood, David Dale Owen, Richard Dale Owen, Benjamin Franklin Shumard, Gerard Troost, and Amos Henry Worthen. Other natural scientists who worked in New Harmony include Charles Alexandre Lesueur and Thomas Say, and the town was also visited by James Hall, Leo Lesquereux, Sir Charles Lyell, and Alexander Philipp Maximilian, Prince of Wied.

The purpose of this field-trip guide is to highlight the scientific and geologic enterprise that operated in nineteenth-century New Harmony, Indiana. There will be a tour of historic buildings including laboratories used by David Dale Owen, such as the Rapp-Owen Granary and his fourth laboratory, which was constructed in 1859. Furthermore, field-trip participants will visit a new geology exhibit at the Working Men’s Institute, an organization established by William Maclure in 1838. The field excursion will also visit historically significant localities, including Mississippian and Pennsylvanian exposures, the type section of the West Franklin Limestone, and a Pennsylvanian paleobotanical site that yielded extensive collections of plant fossils in the mid-nineteenth century.

Finally, this field trip will provide an opportunity to discuss the importance of art to geological studies in the early nineteenth century. Specifically, hand-colored geologic maps, cross sections, and renderings of fossils were included with many of the scientific reports of historic New Harmony, and are reflected by the superb artwork of Charles Alexandre Lesueur, David Dale Owen, and Thomas Say. Access to view their original scientific artwork is possible only through special arrangement with the Working Men’s Institute.

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GSA Special Papers

Ancient Oceans, Orogenic Uplifts, and Glacial Ice: Geologic Crossroads in America’s Heartland

Lee J. Florea
Lee J. Florea
Indiana Geological and Water Survey Indiana University 611 N. Walnut Grove Avenue Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA
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Geological Society of America
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December 10, 2018




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