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Orderville, Utah is a small town of about 600 people located in western Kane County within the Long Valley, formed by the East Fork of the Virgin River. Highway 89 passes through the town, leading north 4 miles to Glendale and 45 miles to Panguitch, and south 21 miles to Kanab, the Kane County seat. The town has a total area of just over 9 square miles and includes the communities of Mount Carmel and Mount Carmel Junction. From Mount Carmel, State Route 9 leads west about 20 miles to Zion National Park.

Orderville gets its name from its unique history. The town was established in 1875 under the direction of President Brigham Young and was founded and operated under the United Order (a voluntary form of communalism defined by Joseph Smith) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Although the United Order was practiced in many Utah communities during the late 1870s, Orderville was unique in both the level of success it experienced under the communal living style and in the duration of the Order. In the course of a few years, Orderville grew into a thriving, self-sufficient community. The success and relative wealth of the community attracted more settlers, and Orderville grew to about 700 people. 

The Order continued in Orderville for approximately 10 years until eventual tension and internal disruption, as well as national legislation, led to its demise.


Orderville, UT

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A sketch of the town of Orderville during the United Order

Below is an excerpt from the Utah History Encyclopedia

"Orderville became the symbol for the most communal United Order and a model for a number of Orders, especially in the southern portions of Mormon country.

The Orderville Saints went far beyond what Joseph Smith had envisioned in the Law of Consecration and Stewardship. The members ate together in a common dining hall, wore uniform clothing made by Orderville industries, and lived in uniform apartments. The elected board supervised all activity, including entertainment, schooling, cooking, clothing manufacture, and farming. Private property did not exist, though personal possessions were assigned as a Stewardship to each individual.

Under this regimen, the order prospered, both materially and spiritually. Assets of the eighty families tripled from $21,551 to $69,562 in the first four years of operation and reached nearly $80,000 by 1883. The leaders made adjustments as time went on. In 1877 they replaced the earlier loose dependence upon willingness to contribute with an accounting system that placed uniform values on labor and commodities (the wages varying by age and sex, but not type of work). A flood in 1880 destroyed the dining facilities, ending communal meals. In 1883 Erastus Snow, a regional church official, recommended moving to an unequal wage and partial stewardship system, the latter giving each family a plot of ground to till for its own use. Evolution away from the original communal purity continued as specific enterprises were leased to their operators for a fee retained by the order.

External pressures took their toll as well. The largely polygamous leadership of the community was decimated after the U. S. Congress passed the Edmunds Act of 1882. This act stimulated a vigorous campaign to enforce federal anti-polygamy statues, leading to the imprisonment or forced exile of many local leaders. In 1885 central church leaders, eager to reduce the range of federal complaints against Mormon peculiarities (the government was hostile to Mormon economic as well as marital practices), counseled the members to disband the Order, which they agreed reluctantly to do. They retained community ownership of the tannery, woolen mill, and sheep ranch until 1889 and finally let the corporation lapse in 1904.

Although the less communal stock company system of Brigham City was at least as successful financially as was Orderville, it did not capture the imagination and live on in the collective memory of Mormons. Orderville became the symbol of the United Order for subsequent Saints, a daring and near-successful effort to build the City of God on earth. Celebrated in song and legend, Orderville is in the minds of most Mormons today a model of selflessness, devotion, and future obligation."

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