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A Polygamous Town Built Into a Mountain

A small community of fundamentalist Mormons literally carved homes into the side of a massive sandstone rock in Utah.


In a desert in the south of Utah, about a dozen families know what it is to live between a rock and a hard place. As The Atlantic's Alan Taylor writes:

"The Rock," was founded about 35 years ago by Robert Dean Foster, who set out to create a safe, remote space for a Christian community that embraced plural marriage. Large houses were built by using dynamite to blast caves into the sandstone cliff, then finished into relatively modern homes complete with running water, electricity, internet access, and more.

Below, photos by Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart. See more at The Atlantic's In Focus blog.

Enoch Foster, a fundamentalist Mormon practicing polygamy, along with his first wife Catrina Foster and several of his 13 children from his two wives, enter the Charity House at the Rockland Ranch community outside Moab, Utah, on November 2, 2012. The "Rock" as it is referred to by the approximately 100 people living there in about 15 families, was founded about 35 years ago on a sandstone formation near Canyonlands National Park. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

An aerial view of Hatch Rock, home to Rockland Ranch in Utah, courtesy of Google Earth. A half-mile wide, the sandstone formation rises nearly 500 feet above the surrounding landscape. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
Girls play on a trampoline near a home blasted into a rock wall in Rockland Ranch, on November 2, 2012. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
Homes emerge from cliffside in the Rockland Ranch community, on November 2, 2012. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
Abel Morrison, a fundamentalist Mormon practicing polygamy, tends to a community garden with several of his children in Rockland Ranch, on November 2, 2012. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)


About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.