Home of Truth isn’t your run-of-the-mill ghost town. These remains in the southeastern Utah desert once comprised a religious colony that set out to be a post-apocalyptic utopia, formed in 1933 by a wealthy widow from New Jersey.
Marie Ogden’s interest in the occult started when her husband passed away. Grief-stricken, she turned to religion for answers and had a spiritual revelation.
She opened the “Truth Center” in New Jersey and began claiming that God was speaking through her via divine manipulation, dictating messages through her typewriter. One of these messages was to go build God’s kingdom, and spiritual signs pointed to a plot of land called Dry Valley, near Church Rock in San Juan County, Utah.
Ogden and her handful of followers believed the world was coming to an end and all would be destroyed except for this barren place, which would be the site of Christ’s second coming. Ogden envisioned a peaceful community of religious settlers that would survive the apocalypse and start anew.
The commune consisted of about 20 buildings broken into three so-called portals. The Inner Portal was the heart of the settlement, where Ogden lived. She maintained a newspaper to spread the message that God was sending through her typewriter. The religious settlers, in addition to pledging to do whatever God dictated through Ogden, lived without personal belongings and adhered to strict rules forbidding alcohol, tobacco, meat and other comforts.
The community grew from a couple dozen to about 100 followers in 1935, but within two years only seven diehards were left. The decline started as word of the cult’s strange rituals began to spread, and the breaking point came when a woman who was promised a cure for cancer died, and Ogden refused to bury her, insisting she would come back alive. Instead cult members kept the body preserved and even fed it milk and and eggs for two months after the woman’s death.
This unsurprisingly created a huge backlash among the neighboring communities which, compounded with more of Ogden’s prophecies failing to come true, led people to abandoned the cult. The commune was all but dissolved by the end of the 1930s.
The land became private property after Ogden’s death in 1975, but the remains of the Home of Truth can still be found there today. The property owner made a point of preserving the Inner Portal, and plans to restore the site and open it to the public. Visitors can glimpse the abandoned buildings from the road, and the gate to the entrance of the Inner Portal, where for years, over the gate hung a sign that read “Marie’s Place.”
Know Before You Go
Can be seen on the way to Newspaper Rock or the Needles District of Canyonlands State Park, Utah State Route 211, from Moab.