Revitalizing a Ghost Town

Just after the turn of the century, the state of Utah was completing the Piute Canal project and looking for settlers to homestead along its banks. Water shares and irrigation held promise for successful farming, so in 1911, in an effort to help relocate Jewish settlers who were struggling in the slums of large East Coast cities, the Jewish Agricultural Society organized an effort to bring 90 families to settle 40-acre parcels of land along the Piute Canal in central Utah.

The old school house in Clarion, UT

The old school house in Clarion, UT

In a little town called Clarion, these families sought a better life in rural America; however with little farming background and challenging soil conditions, many of the families made it just 3 or 4 years before abandoning their efforts in the west. Today, Clarion is no longer an incorporated city, rather a ghost town with crumbling foundations of what used to be the towns’ homes and a school room. These foundations as well a cemetery with two headstones is all the evidence that remains of the Jewish colony’s stay in Clarion.

Today, Barex Dairy, the Otten family and their 4,000 cows calls the ghost town of Clarion home. They have been able to turn the challenging farm ground along the Piute canal into a successful hay crop and a successful family-run dairy. The natural slope of the land is ideal for drainage and keeping the cows dry and comfortable.

Photo Dec 13, 4 49 18 PM

The Otten’s farm has not only revitalized ground that was once deemed too difficult to farm, but they have created a sustainable dairy operation that focuses on energy efficiency and sustaining natural resources. Even the calves’ grain buckets are recycled army helmets!

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