Fort Harmony Description

Fort Harmony
What did it look like in 1860?

When President Brigham Young visited Harmony (on Ash Creek) May 19, 1854, he wasn’t pleased with the setting of Harmony because he believed it was too near Ash Creek and would be subject to flooding. He suggested that Harmony be moved 4 miles north and west. President Young and Parley P. Pratt found the site that seemed to be the right place for Fort Harmony to be built. President Young designated the corner stone and paced the Fort perimeter off from corner to corner making it 200 feet square.

He gave directions at the time as to how the Fort was to be built Thomas D. Brown recorded in his diary the following:

Let the length of each side of the square be 200 feet. The outer wall 3 feet thick and form the back wall or outside of your building 10 feet high. Let your inner wall be 18 inches, and your partition walls one foot thick, rooms 15 feet square, the under rooms will form your kitchen and cellars, etc. Let your windows be inside and none on the outside of this story. Build another story above this 9 to 12 foot high - your inner walls as before. Have windows in this both sides in the outer wall. Let the window sills be so high that shots from the outside would pass over the heads of the residents–the inside of the windows to be the usual height. Adobe to be in size 12 by 6 by 4 inches. The upper rooms to be your lodging rooms, etc. And you can throw two or three together into one for meeting and school rooms. Water to be brought through an arched culvert of rock work. Your foundations to be of rock and have a covered pool in the center of your square built around it of rock, and build a well, angular points of which you can draw water for your potties or water closets which should be on the sides of your gates, two or four rooms each side. Let your gateway be on the lower, say the south side of the square. Have a portico or porch on the inner side all around, say 6 feet from your wall supported on pillars and from this let your stairs run up to your lodging rooms. Have your firewood outside and carry it in, cut proper lengths for the day or work. Your corral of picket, to be outside also on the lower side and near the gate. You may build your corral first or after, just as you have a mind to. At present all is peace and when this is built I shall then say we have a good fort in this territory.

When President Young returned to Salt Lake, he instructed Truman O. Angel, the Church’s architect, to draw up plans for the Fort and 2 drawings. President Young sent the plans to John D. Lee. Following is a copy of the plans but we have not been able to locate any drawings of the Fort or pictures.

Church Historian’s Archive: Microfilm CR 1,2,3,4,1 reel 86. (Box 74, folder 36)

A memorandum of directions for the erection of a fort according to a plan given orally at Harmony by President Brigham Young. Now drawn on paper by L. O. Angell (known as the plan of a fort at Harmony).

The student will take the plan before him. Let the south end come to his breast and he turn his face to the north. Now look on the drawing and you have the position of the fort. You see a square embracing 200 feet each way and rooms all around within the wall . The lower story outside wall, 3 feet thick. Inside wall 18 inches thick. Upper story outside wall, 2 feet thick. Inside wall 18 inches thick. partition wall 12 inches thick. See transverse side section. This wall shows the student the height of the rooms below and also above as connected with the timbers windows, porch etc. The transverse section shows like a plane cut through either side of said fort so as to mark the walls, timbers, frames etc. appear to the eye; the size of the rooms of the basement may be read by referring to the figuring of the ground plan. The fireplaces are arranged in their proper stations; they may be made common size say 3 feet 4 inches long, 2 feet 8 or 10 inches high, 15 or 18 inches deep and on either side you have a first rate place cupboards. The places for the doors are marked D and in the places for windows marked W...(9 words unreadable on bottom line).

(Page 2) the doors. The windows on the inside of fort are 12 lighted 3 panes wide 4 high also the same in the upper story. Doors in the upper story are to be placed directly over those in the lower and in the outer wall put one six lighted window in each room opposite to the inside window.

N. K. (?) The north west corner is tinted with lead. This is reserved for a school or meeting room. It is to be on the second floor. There should be added several 6 lighted windows in this room say 5 in the outside walls the height as they show in the traverse section. The doors and windows should range in the same line of height on the inside of fort. On the upper left corner of plan is a drawing section of ceiling joist and roofing timbers on the angles on said fort. The stick and the corner lying diagonally marked fix to is a truss (see figure 1). Set the ceiling joist be secure to the main stick and all small rafters secure to the principle rafters. All the joists over the lower and upper rooms should be about 16 inches from center and bridged well.

The sleepers in lower room should be about 2 feet from center to center or as near this as practicable. Secure them by a good bearing under the center of each or they will allow the floor to tremble. The porch sleepers are represented as resting on a stone (simple stone). These stones should be made secure in the earth. The height of porch floor should be 8 inches below top of door seal. Let the porch floor.

(Page 3) fall 12 inches from the building to the outer edge: place posts at the dark spots marked 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. making 4 in number. They are about 13 feet 61/2 inches from center to center. The traverse section shows how to arrange the framing and many other things. Notice that drawing often.

Over the meeting or school room [in the northwest corner] put a small tower or look out place for a watchman which may be entered from the top of the porch by a ladder. The stone wall to bear the adobe wall should be let into the earth deep as the walls will check or crack. You will let the stone work be made about 16 inches above the earth outside.

In the center of said fort if a pool supplied from without the wall and should be brought under ground in logs of 2inch planks well ground and fitted to each other; this should be well fitted in a reservoir without the fort and passed through under the wall to the center of the fort there rise in a fence stalk to the top of the mound (the mound should be 2 ½ or 3 feet high) and sink a vat in the center. All the earth is to be removed from the inside of the fort to a level or nearly so except the mound but again there should be a little descent in the fort to take away falling water etc. The outlets of said pool maybe arranged to admit of all such waters as they pass through under the water closets. The water closets may be arranged for both stories and divided to suit conveniences etc.

(Page 4)Place lentils. With the line of second floor timbers set the wall continue making a room over said gate or guard house for other purpose. N. K. (?) There are eight flight of stairs. They are entered as shown by the arrows on the plan.


Fort Harmony Historical Society has made considerable effort to locate the original drawings of the Fort contacting all historical holdings which might have the drawings. We have been unable to locate the drawings. As an alternative we have conceptually drawn what we believe the Fort looked like and had our drawing duplicated by an artist, Louise Crosby. Roger Simister, put together a computer drawing of the Fort using similar forts during that time period.

Also, since FHHS has the instructions from the Church’s architect Angel, Jane White completed an engineer’s drawing of the Fort using a CAD program. These two drawings are the closest likeness available of the Fort. When the archeological dig is completed, more information will be available so eventually we will have a very good idea what the Fort looked like and some idea of the surrounding area such as the farms, gardens, corrals, out buildings.