Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pathway to the Heartland and Great Lakes Landing Sites – the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers– Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the shallowness of the Mississippi before the Corps of Engineers began work on the inland waterways to deepen, widen, add channels and locks. 
   As a matter of fact, today, to accommodate deep-ocean shipping, there are 29 locks and dams located on the Upper Mississippi River, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains a nine-foot channel on the Mississippi from St. Paul, Minnesota, to St. Louis, Missouri, which allows for deep water vessels and other shipping to move up and down the Mississippi River, that otherwise would be too shallow for such navigation, as well as having rapids that were deterrents to any such shipping before the locks were built.
    A series of locks enable river vessels to "step" up or down a river or canal from one water level to another. When, the upstream gate is opened, the boat moves out on the higher water level and can continue up the Mississippi (or heading down, when the downstream gate is opened, the boat moves out onto the lower water level and continues downstream). The boats continue into the next lock, and so on, until they reach the end of the dam and lock system.
From St. Louis along the Mississippi to Zarahemla and Nauvoo, the Corps of Engineers had to build seven locks and dams in the mid 1800s in order to move any kind of deep water vessel along that 186 mile stretch

Along the Mississippi from St. Louis, Missouri to Dubuque, Iowa, a total of 14 navigation locks and dams had to be built in order to accommodate ships moving up the river. The dams created a series of reservoirs or “pools” that range from 10 to 47 miles in length and from 3,725 to 33,500 acres in size. In all, some 200,000 acres of water was added to the depth of the Mississippi to raise the water level above its normal shallow depth, and the many sand bars and snags that kept shipping from moving northward along this portion of the river.
    Along the river south of St. Louis, there are no locks and dams, which the Corps of Engineers characterized as open river, where they built wing dams, side channels, main channel, main channel border and extensive rip rap along the channel banks for protection to allow ships to move along the river. Before all of this was built in the mid-1850s, only flat-bottomed-boats could move along the river, and those were early craft that flowed downriver with the current, requiring constant steering with poles and long rudders to keep the boat in the middle of the river and to avoid sand bars and snags.
Side view of a paddle-wheeler. Note the shallow draft (black area), meaning all that is underwater, and the birds eye view of the Captain, providing him with an overall view of the rivers breadth before him so he can see any changes in sandbar locations or floating obstacles

These American riverboats were designed to draw very little water, and in fact it was commonly said that they could "navigate on a heavy dew" (Lester Gary French, Boating on the Ohio," Machinery, Industrial Press, vol. 6, July 1900, p334). Yet, despite the extremely shallow draft, these riverboat captains had to constantly be vigilant and know and be able to read the river from their high perch above the water, for fear of running aground on moving sandbars, snags, “sawyers,” and other obstacles.
    How could Nephi have sailed his deep-sea ship that crossed the oceans up to where the Nephites were claimed to have landed, somewhere around present-day Nauvoo (and the small area that was once called Zarahemla, Iowa, across the river from Nauvoo)? In the days of the flat-bottomed, shallow-draft paddle wheelers (after the river was dredged and deepened), it took an extremely experienced river captain in specially built river boats to make the journeys, and even many of those met with disasters. Today, it takes seven dams and locks in order to get flat-bottomed scows (cargo flatboats) up that river past the area theorists claimed Lehi landed.
Not all of the flat-bottomed, shallow-draft paddle wheelers, with all their experience, made the voyage safely. Sailing the Mississippi River was difficult and treacherous even for the specially built vessels designed to make the triptree snags, ever-changing and therefore unchartered shoals, and other obstructions made navigation treacherous and the average lifespan of a steam ship on the Mississippi River in the 1800s was only 18 months

During an age when America moved mostly by water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began removing snags and other obstructions on navigable rivers in 1824. Since this was a major problem and extremely difficult achievement, the snagboats were designed and built—the first truly practicable snagboat was conceived by veteran riverman Henry Miller Shreve. Christened the Heliopolis, it was a twin-hulled craft with an iron-sheathed beam, called a butting beam, connecting the hulls. To remove a snag, the vessel rammed it with the butting beam, dislodging the snag and allowing the crew to lift it onto the boat with a windlass. There it was cut up, the pieces to be used as fuel or thrown into the water to float harmlessly downstream.
    To those theorists who do not consider the difficulty of sailing or moving on the inland waterways of early America and a serious  deterrent to Lehi sailing up the Mississippi or the Ohio, perhaps portions of a letter written on March 31, 1805, by Meriwether Lewis, of the famed Lewis and Clarke expedition, wrote a long letter to his mother, Lucy Marks, from Fort Mandan detailing the daunting dangers he had faced on the Missouri River, and hinting at the anxiety that, even as a natural risk-taker, he was feeling in anticipation of rivers to come. 
    “So far, we have experienced more difficulty from the navigation of the Missouri, than danger from the Savages. The difficulties which oppose themselves to the navigation of this immense river, arise from the rapidity of its current, it's falling banks, sandbars, and timber which remains wholly, or partially concealed in its bed, usually called by the navigators of the Missouri and Mississippi, Sawyers or planters. One of those difficulties, the navigator never ceases to contend with, from the entrance of the Missouri to this place; [is] the turbid quality of the water, which renders it impracticable to discover any obstruction even to the depth of a single inch. Such is the velocity of the current at all seasons of the year…that it is impossible to resist it's force by means of oars or poles in the main channel of the river; the eddies therefore which generally exist one side or the other of the river, are sought by the navigator; but these are almost universally incumbered with concealed timber, or within the reach of the falling banks, but notwithstanding are usually preferable to that of passing along the edges of the sand bars, over which, the water, though shallow, runs with such violence, that if your vessel happens to touch the sand, or is by any accident turned sidewise to the current it is driven on the bar, and overset in an instant, generally destroyed, and always attended with the loss of the cargo.”
    The point is, early boating on these inland waterways was dangerous, and extremely difficult, even for experienced seamen and explorers who traveled such rivers most of their lives. The additional point is, such waterways required vast expenditures of money and manpower in order to make them both navigable and safe for any kind of boating up or down the rivers. This time, cost and energy built side channels, locks, and dams throughout the early inland waterway system to make such simple travel possible.
Roller dams can be either fixed (non-moving) or active. The largest of the active dams in the world is Locks and Dam 15, which spans the Mississippi River between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa

Today there re roller dams, which is a type of hydro-control device specially designed to mitigate erosion, a constant problem along the Mississippi. They are most often used to divert water for irrigation but the largest and most notable examples are used to ease river navigation, such as those along the Mississippi. The world's first roller dam (walzenwehr) was constructed in Schweinfurt, Germany, in 1902 to divert irrigation water south of the Main River.
    The Corps of Engineers first used submersible roller gates on the Upper Mississippi River at Dam No. 4, located in the St. Paul District. The Corps began constructing Dam No. 4 in November 1933. The submersible roller gates of Dam No. 4 submerge to a depth of 3 feet.
Top: Aerial view of Lock and Dam No. 15 on the Mississippi River between Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa. View is from the Illinois side of the river looking northwest to Iowa. The Government Bridge, a combined auto and railroad bridge, spans the river right over the locks, necessitating a turntable drawbridge to clear the locks; Red areas: the large rollers that allow spillover water to flow through along the river

Lock and Dam 15 is the largest roller dam in the world, its dam is 1,203 feet long and consists of nine 109 feet non-submersible, non-overflow roller gates and two 109 feet non-submersible overflow roller gates. It is unusual among the upper Mississippi River dams in that it has only roller gates, has different sizes and types of roller gates, it is not perpendicular to the flow of the river and is one of the few facilities that has a completed auxiliary lock. The main lock is 110 feet wide by 600 feet long and its auxiliary lock is 110 feet wide by 360 feet long.
    All of this of course, was mainly to create a depth along the river that would allow shipping to move safely up and down the river. A side benefit was to regulate the water flow to safeguard the banks, keep timber from entering the river, and provide for agriculture.
(See the next post, “Pathway to the Heartland and Great Lakes Landing Sites – the Ohio and St Lawrence Rivers– Part III,” for more on what it took to make the Mississippi and inland waterways navigable for anything other than flat-bottomed, shallow-draft boats)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Pathway to the Heartland and Great Lakes Landing Sites – the Mississippi, Ohio and St Lawrence Rivers– Part I


More and more we receive inquiries on the Mississippi and St. Lawrence approaches to the Heartland and Great Lakes areas by those who feel inundated in recent years with these theories. Unfortunately, those who promote North America and the Heartland and Great Lakes theories fail to research the inland water system of southern Canada and the United States--if they did, they would see their ideas of Lehi sailing up these rivers is ill-founded and would have been impossible. The reasons are clearly stated in the histories of these rivers and man's long endeavor to conquer them by the early settlers and then the Corps of Engineers and the Canadian engineers.
     As an example, prior to the time of the Corp of Engineers and the Congressional Act for them to take control of U.S. inland waterways in 1824, movement down the Mississippi River for anything but flat-bottomed river boats was next to impossible—and any movement up the Mississippi was not even considered. The Mississippi could not be sailed further north than Baton Rouge, Louisiana (90 miles inland from the Gulf), and there were no riverboats capable of moving up the Mississippi, only drifting downriver.
Typical early flatboat floating with the current downstream on the Mississippi in the early 19th century with a three-boatman crew (rudderman, poleman and lookout)

In fact, it wasn’t until May, 1782, when a Pennsylvania farmer named, Jacob Yoder became the first person to successfully navigate a flatboat down to New Orleans, delivering flour, and effectively showing how the waterways could be used to reach distant markets and to settle the West. Soon, these boats were coming from the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee and numerous smaller tributaries, laden with the products of the vast region contiguous, to be floated down to New Orleans and thence distributed around the seaboard by sailing vessels, and having served its purpose, the flatboat was then broken up and sold for lumber and fuel, while the owner pocketed his cash and wended his way home, generally on foot up along the Mississippi—a dangerous stretch of travel in that day.
    The crew of these flatboats consisted of three men, whose principal duty was to look out for uprooted trees floating in the river but held fast at one end, called "sawyers," and to keep clear of eddies, for a boat once drawn into the whirlpool would go floating around indefinitely, in danger of colliding with the ever-accumulating drift and being sunk.
    In 1809 a New York man, named Nicholas J. Roosevelt, set out from Pittsburg in a flatboat of the usual type on the Ohio River, to make the voyage to the Mississippi and then down to New Orleans. He was the partner of Fulton and Livingston in their new steamboat enterprise, having himself suggested the vertical paddle-wheel, which for more than a half a century was the favorite means of utilizing steam power for the propulsion of boats. His quest was to study the channel and the current of the rivers, with the view to putting a steamer on them.
    Wise men assured him that on the upper river his scheme was destined to failure. Could a boat laden with a heavy engine be made of so light a draught as to pass over the shallows of the Ohio and Mississippi? Could it run the falls at Louisville, or be dragged overland around them as the flatboats often were? Clearly not.
The main danger to waterborne travel was snags—trees that had fallen into the rivers as a result of bank erosion that the current carried to the center of the river, and the heavier, rooted end became lodged in the riverbed with the other end pointed downstream at an anglesuch a snag could punch a hole in a boat’s hull, often causing it to sink, and was particularly dangerous where the fallen trees that lay hidden beneath the river’s surface. Such snags caused enormous losses of vessels, cargoes, and lives

Because the river was so shallow, with sand bars, hidden snags just below the surface from trees caught in the riverbed, rocks and other obstacles, none believed that it would be possible for any kind of ship, no matter how constructed or powered, could possibly sail the Mississippi. The highly imbedded belief at the time among all riverboat men of any kind, was that the only really serviceable type of river craft was the flatboat, for it would go where there was only water enough “for a muskrat to swim in,” would glide unscathed over the concealed snag or, thrusting its corner into the soft mud of some protruding bank, swing around and go on as well stern first as before.
Flat-bottomed river boat carrying cargo and animals down the Mississippi in the late 1700s

The flatboat was the sum of human ingenuity applied to river navigation. Even (keeled) barges were proving failures and passing into disuse, as the cost of poling them upstream was greater than any profit to be reaped from the voyage.
    It is amazing that despite all the knowledge acquired in the initial stages of man’s use of the Mississippi River, and other inland waterways of what is now the United States, that modern theorists consider themselves wiser and more knowledgeable and claim that Lehi just sailed across the deep ocean in his ship he built and then sailed up the Mississippi River without any problem. It is unbelievable that theorists cling to this idea when not a single vessel with any noticeable draft would move along the Mississippi in the 1700s and earlier, and well into the 1800s before the river was dredged and new channels built by the Corps of Engineers.
    In fact, the first boats of any size and capability to move on the Mississippi River even after the work done to make the inland rivers more navigable, was the flat-bottomed, shallow-draft Mississippi Riverboats, known as the paddlewheelers.
The steam-driven paddlewheelers were both small and large, with the average boat about 75-feet long and 16-feet wide and about 50-ton and a 22-inch draft. Note that the stern wheel is raised high so only the paddles or buckets strike the water, eliminating the possibility of debris ramming the wheel and damaging it

In 1824 Congress passed the first “Roads and Canals” legislation as part of the “Rivers and Harbors Act,” authorizing the Corps of Engineers to survey waterways to designate those “capable of sloop navigation.” They appropriated $75,000 to improve navigation on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers by removing sandbars, snags and other obstacles, including overslaughs, planers, sawyers, and snaps, especially on the Mississippi, under the direction of the Chief Engineer and the Secretary of War (Secretary of the Army). Two years later, Congress passed legislation authorizing river surveys for the purpose of cleaning out and deepening selected waterways and to make various other river and harbor improvements. The first locks were approved in 1838, and for many years, the entire emphasis of river legislation was chiefly meant to prevent or remove obstructions to navigation; however, this soon changed to the construction of dams and locks for greater navigation improvement.
It might be noted, that the sloop navigation legislation was intended to provide access along the Mississippi for sloops, one of the smallest of ocean going vessels, and at the time, was not believed to have been deep ocean capable for any lengthy voyage. As an example, in November 1770, the sloop Olive Branch commanded by Captain Abraham Bloodgood made the first voyage from Albany to the West indies, loaded with merchandise. In 1785, the sloop voyaged to China with 80 ton of merchandise and back, returning loaded with tea, China-ware and silk, much to the surprise of all familiar with the venture, since the voyage was considered extremely hazardous for a ship of that small size. By 1791, scores of sloops were traveling the world, to China and Europe. The point is, even such small ship capable of deep ocean travel, could not sail on the Mississippi River until the Corps of Engineers made it possible after 1824.
    How on Earth can anyone consider that Nephi sailed his deep-ocean ship the Mississippi River in 600 B.C. not only against a strong current, but on a river that has always been so shallow, nothing but a few inches of draft in a flat-bottomed-boat could move upon it? And not even those flat-bottomed-boats could move up the Mississippi River, either under sail, oar, or poling until the steam-driven paddlewheels came into being.
(See the next post, “Pathway to the Heartland and Great Lakes Landing Sites – the Ohio and St Lawrence Rivers– Part II,” for more on what it took to make the Mississippi and inland waterways navigable for anything other than flat-bottomed, shallow-draft boats)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Finding the Land of Promise – Another Look at Cumorah – Part III

Continuing with the Hill Cumorah discussion, we need to take a look at the specific information we know about the Hill Cumorah and what has been said about it by those in a position to know. 
    First of all, while we call the drumlin in New York "Hill Cumorah" based on a usage initiated early in Church history (probably by Oliver Cowdery or W. W. Phelps), that does not necessarily make the two hills the same (the scriptural Hill Cumorah, and the western New York hill Cumorah). In fact, most LDS scholars do not think they are the same, because they believe the New York drumlin does not meet the textual requirements for the geographic placement of the hill in relation to the narrow neck of land, which it most certainly does not as has been pointed out here in this blog over the years.
    Another problem is the distance. According to Sidney B. Sperry in "Were There Two Cumorahs?," (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 4/1, 1995, pp260–268), the view of many scholars is that the text requires a relatively short distance between Cumorah and the narrow neck of land. David A. Palmer's (In Search of Cumorah, Horizon Publishers & Distributors, February 2005) criteria for the Ancient Cumorah have historically supplied some of the basis for the way most scholars understand the Book of Mormon description of Cumorah. Scholars in support of those same ideas have built upon his work, and have added their ideas to the mix over the years. People like John L. Sorenson in his landmark book places the land of Cumorah and the hill Cumorah just beyond his narrow neck of land along the Gulf of Mexico in the area of present-day Veracruz; however, this is nowhere near his Land of Many Waters.
Yelow Arrow: Land of Many Waters; White Arrow: Land of Cumorah/hill Cumorah; Blue Arrow: Land Northward; Blue Arrow: Distance in between

As can be seen, the distance between the hill Cumorah and the Land of Many Waters is approximately 325 miles. Yet, in the scriptural record, Mormon, who knew these areas very well, states these two areas were in the same vicinity, “We did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in the land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4).
    Obviously then, Sorenson’s placement of one or the other is over 300 miles off. So which one is wrong? Well, the Land of Desolation, which was north of the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:31), was so far to the north that it “came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed” (Alma 22:30). The land of many waters was where the Jaredite bones and ruins of buildings of every kind were located (Mosiah 8:8), thus we might conclude that the last battle the Nephites fought, at the hill Cumorah, in the land of many waters (Mormon 6:4), was located some distance from the narrow neck of land and both the hill Cumorah and the land of many waters were in the same location.
    All of this, however, does not deter John Clark from saying, in contrast to other distances in the Book of Mormon, "The relative location of the hill Cumorah is most tenuous, since travel time from Bountiful, or the narrow neck, to Cumorah is nowhere specified." And yet, others have argued to the contrary that a significant distance between those landmarks is unambiguously specified. Clark continues, “That idea should not necessarily be conflated with the Hemispherical model, and it doesn't mean that the urban Nephite domain under the neck of land was not a limited area. For example, Andrew H. Hedges (of the Joseph Smith Papers Project, who was a professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University) has documented his views. (Matt Roper provided a response to Hedges' article). Another author has also documented his opinions.”
    This only goes to show that scholars have their own views and are not bashful about stating them—too bad they do not include the scriptural information as well; however, most of them, especially those at BYU have basically all bought into the Mesoamerican location and as such, must show a limited area for the Land of Promise and judge all things based on that. Consequently, if a statement in the scriptural record suggests a longer distance than they can justify in Mesoamerica, they tend to discredit the scriptural reference one way or another.
    And the debate goes on between scholars, who state: “The critical question of distance between Cumorah and the narrow neck of land determines archaeological, cultural and environmental considerations for the ancient Cumorah. If, as Hedges argues, a more rural ‘northern hinterland’ of the Nephite nation existed far north, and Cumorah is within that northern domain, then the expectations for what should be found in that area are not necessarily the same as those for the urban centers in the south. If Palmer and others in favor of the limited view are correct, then there is no such northern area. All sides of the issue regarding the Ancient Cumorah should be evaluated carefully. Any position that claims to be the definitive answer on this particular point, to the exclusion other points of view, when the Book of Mormon text is so ambiguous on it should be viewed with extreme caution.”
    Notice how the scriptural record is marginalized as a “text,” and often without meaning or specifics, yet when Mormon states” “We did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in the land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4), that seems quite specific and unambiguous. Especially, when the guru of Mesoamerica geography for the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, Sorenson, places the Land of Many Waters in or around the area of Morelia (formerly Valladolid, and originally Nueva Ciudad de Mechuacan), Mexico, which is today a city and municipality in the north central part of the state of Michoacan in central Mexico.
    The city is in the Guayangareo Valley and is the capital and largest city of the state. This area is believed first settled around 800 A.D. (7th century), with artifacts from the Teotihuacán culture. Just to the north of the city is Lake Cuitzeo with three rivers, Viejo de Morelia, Grande de Morelia, and Querendaro rivers feeding the area. Nearby is a considerable natural system of waterways, including parts of two of the country’s largest rivers, the Lerma and the Balsas. Clearly it is a land of many waters and rivers, which mostly drain into the Pacific.
    However, this area is 412 miles from Veracruz, the area of their hill Cumorah, and 547 to 656 miles (depending on where along the neck one measures) from their narrow neck of land in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and flies against the theorists small territory area of the Land Northward and their belief that the hill Cumorah was a short distance from the narrow neck.
    Over the years there has been much written about the two Cumorahs and the distance involved from either Central or South America to the hill in upstate or western New York where Joseph was led to the hidden plates. Either distance is thousands of miles and critics have claimed that it would have been too far of a distance for Moroni to have traveled just to move and deposit the plates, and what makes anyone think Moroni moved those records like that, anyway?
Joseph Smith, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery traveling from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Fayette, New York in 1829

However, there is at least one recorded incident of Moroni doing just that, though not any great distance by comparison. This comes from an incident stated by David Whitmer who told Elder Joseph F. Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve about his wagon trip to Fayette with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, as they traveled across a section of prairie, they came upon a man walking along the road, carrying something that was obviously heavy in a knapsack on his back.
    As David stated in the interview:When I was returning to Fayette, with Joseph and Oliver, all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old fashioned, wooden spring seat and Joseph behind us, while traveling along in a clear open place, a very pleasant, nice-looking old man in a clear open place, who saluted us with "Good morning, it is very warm," at the same instant wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation, and by a sign from Joseph I invited him to ride if he was going our way, but he said very pleasantly, "No I am going to Cumorah." This was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant.”
    Puzzled, David looked around inquiringly, but when he turned again, the man was gone. David demanded of Joseph: “‘What does it mean?’ Joseph informed him that the man was Moroni, and that the bundle on his back contained plates which Joseph had delivered to him before they departed from Harmony, Susquehanna County, and that he was taking them for safety, and would return them when he (Joseph) reached father Whitmer’s home.” (recorded in Joseph F. Smith, Diary, 7-8 September 1878, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah; reproduced in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 5:41–49;.Andrew Jenson, ed., The Historical Record, vol. 6, May 1887, pp. 207–9).
    This, evidently, is the first time the term “Cumorah” had been used, and it was a surprise to David Whitmer, who had no idea what it meant. Nor can we say that Moroni was telling the group that he was heading to the hill Cumorah, for Palmyra in Wayne County, was beyond Fayette in Seneca County, and though in the same general direction, not along a straight travel route from Harmony to Fayette. Moroni would not have gone to Cumorah, 36 miles beyond Fayette (more than a day’s ride, perhaps two days on foot) in order to deliver the plates, which he carried, in order to deliver them to Joseph in Fayette when the party reach there.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Finding the Land of Promise – Landing – Part II

Continuing with finding the Land of Promise from Book of Mormon statements or descriptions, if you try to identify a single object to start, then let us suggest you are approaching the Book of Mormon geography backward. As discussed in the previous article, Nephi clearly tells us that he was “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9), and in following those winds and currents they lead to only one basic area where Nephi could have landed, and Jacob describes that landing area in general terms (2 Nephi 20:20). 
   To verify that one specific area of landing, you can look at what Nephi tells you he found exactly where he landed—not some distance away, not where he later founded the City of Nephi (and Land of Nephi), but where he landed. And that info is clearly set forth at the end of Chapter 18 of 1 Nephi, where he states:
1. (1 Nephi 18:24) He planted his seeds, therefore, you would need to find a climate (which would include temperature, soil, precipitation, etc.) where "seeds from Jerusalem" grew exceedingly and provided an abundant crop. Now Jerusalem is a Mediterranean Climate as any climate index will show you from ancient atlas to the internet. So where, along that path that the winds and currents would have taken his ship "driven forth before the wind" would you find a Mediterranean climate where his seeds would grow? Keep in mind that in 600 B.C. seeds did not grow just anywhere--even today, seeds have a growth area and climate requirement found on the back of every seed packet.
2. (1Nephi 18:25) He states he found a forest, which included all types of animals; however, the animals are movable and are only secondary to this. This forest was within walking distance of the landing site, i.e., where they landed and pitched their tents.
3. (1Nephi 18:25) He states that they landed in a location where gold, silver and copper were so plentiful that Nephi remarked about finding it where he landed, while walking about, making it within walking distance of their landing, such as a distance you would walk in a hunting or exploring journey around your base of operations—the tents you pitched and where you have your base camp. We are not talking about this ore being deep in the ground, or not visible sufficiently that it would not immediately be seen as Nephi walked around. In addition, these ores are mentioned in a single occurrence, so the gold, silver and copper needs to be in single ore (that is, a single rock formation—not found just anywhere, but not that rare, either).
4. (1Nephi 18:25) The forest location was large enough where both domesticated type animals (though running wild at the time) as well as wild beasts (carnivores), would have been found. What is found today among animals is immaterial, since animal habitats can change with seasons over the centuries.
    Having gone this far, you would now be ready to take the next step in finding the location of the Land of Promise. In fact, there are few places where a Mediterranean Climate can be found, then add the ore and forest, this limits areas to a single location along that ocean current path where the winds blow and currents move.
    So now you have these three types of things to look for in the area where Nephi’s ship would have sailed.
1. A location where winds and currents would have taken a sailing ship "driven forth before the wind" which means fixed sails—not tacking and maneuvering all over the place—much like everyone sailed before the later Age of Sail when mariners learned to use more than winds and currents to reach destinations;
Mediterranean Climates of the World

The above map is adapted from: Ecosystems of the World, Vol. II, Mediterranean-Type Shrublands (F. DiCastri, D.W. Goodall and R.L. Specht, Eds.), Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1981.
2) Climate conducive to planting seeds from Jerusalem (Mediterranean);
3) Permanent location items (ore, forest, etc.)
    Frankly, after more than 30 years of doing this, reading thousands of books (long before the internet), journals of travelers, ancient histories, etc., as well as naval journals, wind and current studies, reading about the men who discovered these winds and currents etc., and studying plants, seeds, climate, etc., this location became obvious. That is, in such a study, a single location in the Western Hemisphere should be rearing its head in your research since there is only one place in all the Western Hemisphere that would match these three points that Nephi describes.
    Once you have arrived at this point, the next step is to find a place where Nephi would have moved to in order to escape the death threats of his brothers, and the sons of Ishmael, that was far enough away so no immediate discovery would be likely, where a defensive city and civilization could be built, and where all the things described in the scriptural record could be found—including gold, silver, copper, other precious metals, including iron, and wood for serious construction efforts (like framing Solomon's Temple), where buildings of every kind had been built north of there (Jaredites), where several cities had been built by Nephi and his descendants over the next 400 years before Mosiah left that area.
    Next, you  look within that area for:
1. Signs of an ancient civilization around 600 to 200 B.C. that more or less begins with buildings matching the achievements in the ancient city of Jerusalem;
2. For stone construction where masons cut and dressed stones somewhat like Israel’s building of Jerusalem;
3. For ancient signs of advanced metallurgy, with masons capable of making both decorative and construction type metal products;
4. For ancient signs of advanced textiles, of fine-twined linen, silk, etc.
5. For roads and highways that went from place to place, city to city and land to land, and connected the ancient kingdom where the Nephites are thought to have occupied;
6. For similarities in Egyptian and Mesopotamia cultures;
    After this, you can start looking for perishable but solid evidence of items that at least existed in the Nephite era (including Jaredites), such as:
1. Two interesting animals that would have been unknown in the U.S. in 1830s, but more valuable to man than horses and asses, and on a par with elephants, that are indigenous to the area;
2. Two valuable grains that would not have been known to Joseph Smith, a farmer, in 1830 U.S., but nutritious on a par with wheat and barley;
3. You look for an herb or plant that is a cure for killing fevers, like malaria, and keep people from dying from it (Alma 46:40);
    Then there is the unchangeable things you can look for that match the scriptural record, such as areas where significant mountains in both the Land Southward and the Land Northward rose to levels “whose height is great.”
    And for such things as signs of an ancient people that accomplished great things, built great cities, and worked with their hands, which Nephi tells us he caused his people to do.
    Now, by this time, if you have really done your homework, been open-minded, followed exactly the wordage of the scriptural record without reading into it other than what it means, you likely will be in the right area. Then, and only then, will you have a chance at finding certain described places, that time would not have altered or changed.
(See the next post, “Finding the Land of Promise – Another Look at Cumorah – Part III, to see more of the comparison between Mesoamerican claims and that of the scriptural descriptions of the Land of Promise)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Finding the Land of Promise – Hill Cumorah – Part I

We are asked from time to time where certain landmarks in the scriptural record would be in the world today in order to pinpoint a location for the Land of Promise, with the Hill Cumorah around the top of the list. However, the problem with this type of thinking is that it is working backwards from the issues at hand. 
    “So where is the hill Cumorah?” we are often asked. First of all, there are so many erroneous ideas about the Hill Cumorah located in upstate New York, that a bit of clarification is necessary. First, Joseph Smith never referred to it as “the hill Cumorah,” which was unnamed prior to 1829, where the plates were deposited and located. In fact, in his account in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith refers to the hill where the plates were buried, but never calls it by any name. In the Doctrine and Covenants the name 'Cumorah'  appears only one time, in an 1842 epistle written by Joseph Smith: 'And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah' (D&C 128:20), which obviously refers to the message of the plates found there. 
    As Rex C. Reeve, Jr., and Richard O. Cowan (“The Hill Called Cuorah,” quoted in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: New York and Pennsylvania, Church History and doctrine, 1992), No other uses of 'Cumorah' have been found in any other of Joseph Smith's personal writings. When this name does appear it has been added by later editors or is being quoted from another individual.
    Secondly, because Joseph was led by Moroni to that drumlin hill in Manchester, New York, it was the early Saints who so named it, along with several other names, such as the Golden Hill, Mormon Hill, Gold Bible Hill, and Inspiration Point. In his own words, Joseph wrote: "On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box."
    At no time did Joseph refer to it as the hill mentioned in the scriptural record. But early Saints assumed this was the original hill Cumorah mentioned prominently in the scriptural record, because the plates were deposited there that Joseph uncovered, and once understanding this, began to call it such.
Joseph went to the hill [now named Cumorah within the Church] which he had seen in a vision. There he found a big rock, and pried it up with a stick that uncovered a stone box in which were set the gold plates (Joseph Smith History 1:44-52)

The problem is that theorists, in an effort to try and located the Land of Promise, sometimes look to a specific site mentioned in the scriptural record and decide they know where that is, and then backtrack, building an entire location of the Book of Mormon based on that one idea. However, there are very few places in the scriptural record that provide enough information that would allow one to pinpoint a physical location, such as a city, particular mountain, lake, river, etc. Many of these types of things change, disappear, or are altered over time—at least some 1800 years of time or more.
    After all, the hill the plates came from in Manchester, New York, is not at issue; the question is whether this final resting place of the plates is the same hill where the ending battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites occurred. Many serious scholars have attempted to prove that the Palmyra hill was the battle hill, but to little avail, largely because they do not understand archaeology as an inexact science. They argue that the Palmyra hill and its surrounding area once had tons of convincing evidence that has long since been destroyed or carted away.
    Again, it is not the case that the Church authoritatively identifies the drumlin in western New York as the same Hill Cumorah mentioned in the text of the Book of Mormon. The Church has made it abundantly clear that it does not endorse any particular view of Book of Mormon geography. The Church has no official position on any New World location described in the Book of Mormon. There is no official revelation in the Church establishing the drumlin in New York as the Hill Cumorah of the Book of Mormon where two nations were destroyed. It is true that a number of Church leaders in the past expressed the opinion that the hill in New York was the same hill described in the Book of Mormon, but whether their opinions were based on personal revelation to those individuals is not known.
    Even if so, personal testimony on points such as this are contradictory, and are not binding on the Church, regardless of how high the position was of the person making the assertion. Only new revelation following proper procedure, and being accepted by the Church as a whole as binding can clear up this point. Statements from Joseph Smith or others on geography, such as Oliver Cowdery, are not binding on the Church, despite the claims of various theorists, historians and writers.
    Also, just because the early Saints called the hill where Joseph Smith was shown the plates Moroni and Mormon deposited, the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, that does not mean that was the hill in the scriptural record—otherwise, we might as well look to Bountiful, Utah, for the location of the Bountiful alongside the Irreantum Sea, or the Bountiful where the Lord visited the surviving Saints after the crucifixion.
    We know so little about the hill Cumorah that could be used today to pinpoint a specific hill or mount, that it seems fruitless to even try. To feel that this or that would be a good candidate for a Book of Mormon location is merely playing a game that has no value since there is no way to verify almost all suggested locations. 
    We only know the Hill Cumorah was in the Western Hemisphere, in an area far north in the Land Northward, in an area of many waters, rivers and, most importantly, “fountains.” Since there are few fountains (actual sources of water), again, the task would be beyond anyone’s capability without knowing exactly where that Land Northward was located.
    What we do know about the hill in the scriptural record is that it must have been of sufficient size and design as to provide protection for Mormon and the other 23 survivors that they could retreat to and hide away for the night and morning without detection from the blood-thirsty, half-crazed Lamanite army roaming the countryside around the hill searching for any Nephites so they could kill them. The hill would also have to be high enough to provide sufficient view to look out over a battlefield of between 300,000 and 350,000 dead, yet not be seen by their hereditary enemy, who were in such a bloodthirsty rage at the time that they would not have been deterred from wiping out the final 24 men if they could be seen and located.
    Having been to, and walked around and over the hill Cumorah in New York, it seems easy to see that it does not provide these two simple but necessary requirements. The New York hill is relatively small and quite low, with an easy incline that would not have been any effort to walk up and look around the hill by the victorious Lamanites during or after the battle at Cumorah.
The Hill Cumorah in western New York: Top: Shows the height of the hill is slight, only 110-feet; Middle: Shows a slight uphill grade, which takes less than five minutes to climb and without much effort; Bottom: Shows a slight rounded “drumlin” dome to the hill, affording little cover

Since nothing else is really known about the hill in the scriptural record except that there is or was a seashore within a short distance to the east (Ether 9:3), which was probably the East Sea but that is merely an assumption since the scriptures do not give it a name, consistent with the time and method of the Jaredite writing.
    Rather than to ask that type of question, i.e., where was the hill Cumorah, or where were the Waters of Mormon, or where was the River Sidon, it seems far more valuable and beneficial to ask the right questions, such as where did Nephi's ship take him that he built and set sail from the shores of present day Oman on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula (of course, you could go further back and take his trek form Jerusalem to Bountiful, but that has been done by several historians and well documented. The next step is to then follow Nephi's clues, of which he provided several, such as:
1. He built a sailing ship;
2. It was driven forward by the wind;
3. Winds blow currents and they work in tandem, therefore, follow the winds and currents from where he set forth and they will take you to where he could have landed.
    It really is as simple as that, though not very adventuresome—in fact, it is usually difficult work, time consuming, and not always rewarding. But it is accurate. The type of winds and currents found in the oceans of the world are consistent and based upon factors that do not change, including gravity, earth’s rotation, the Coriolis Effect, etc. Drift voyages, i.e., the winds and current that drive weather vessels at sea, are constant and follow a known and provable pattern and are easily tracked. In the case of those in the Sea of Arabia, Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and the southern or South Pacific, have always been constant as long as man has recorded them and would not have changed before then. These winds and currents are so well known and defined that mariners for centuries have used them to travel the open seas.
    The next important step is to match what would be located at the place of landing along this path and whether or not that matches what Nephi said he found upon landing in the Land of Promise.
(See the next post, “Another Look at the Hill Cumorah – Part II,” for the continuation of this search)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part III

Continuing with the inquiry of Tyrus regarding questions about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. In the previous post, we responded last to the damages of earthquakes and tsunamis regarding 3 Nephi.
     More of Tyrus’ questions:
7) “You say the wind would take Nephi south to go below Australia and the currents would eventually take him to South America, but the land Bountiful on the Arabian Peninsula is so green because of the monsoon winds that blow northeast coming off the coast of Africa.”
During the monsoon months, wet winds move toward India for six months (and out to sea the other six months), bringing heavy rainfall to the Himalaya Mountains—as the air moves inland it absorbs additional moisture and as it moves up the mountains it loses all its moisture, leaving the land dry and warm

Response: First of all, the word “monsoon” means “a major wind system that seasonally reverses its direction,” and are not connected to other monsoon areas, but limited to their own wind system. The most prominent monsoons occur in four distinct and totally separate areas: South Asia (Arabian Peninsula), Africa, Australia, and the Pacific coast of Central America. Monsoonal tendencies also are apparent along the Gulf Coast of the United States and in central Europe; however, true monsoons do not occur in those regions.
    Second, the monsoons of Africa are not the same as the monsoons of the coastal area of the northern Indian Ocean, which affect the Arabian Peninsula where Lehi embarked. It might also be noted that the monsoons of Australia have an effect on another part of the Indian Ocean, below Indonesia.
    Third, the African monsoons effect an area 9º and 20º north and characterized by winds that blow southwesterly during warmer months and northeasterly during cooler months of the year. Although areas just outside of this region also experience wind reversals, the influence of the monsoon declines with increasing distance. Thus, the African monsoon winds have no effect on the other side of the Atlantic in the Indian Ocean, which has its own monsoon systems.
    Fourth, the Indian monsoon is the most prominent of the world’s monsoon systems, which primarily affects India and its surrounding water bodies, including the southern coastal area of the Arabian Peninsula. These monsoon winds blow from the northwest during cooler months and reverses direction to blow from the southwest during the warmest months of the year.
    The greenery in the area of Salalah, and the area Lehi called Bountiful, is the result of the monsoons that blow from the southwest in the Indian Ocean and onto the land, called the Khareef Season in Arabic. It is mostly known in India, where it does enormous damage each year with floods. During the opposite season, when the winds reverse and blow out to sea is when they blow to the southwest and took Lehi’s ship on the course we have illustrated numerous times in this blog.
8) “Wouldnt this have blown them along the coast of Asia/India and eventually taken them north of Australia where they could have caught a current to someplace north of Chile/Peru?”
    Response: The other monsoon area is around Australia and just north of there—the area you target for a ship to pass through to the Pacific. Three things cause a problem with this scenario:
The cycling of a Pacific Ocean circulation pattern known as the Southern Oscillation in which a surface low pressure develops in the region of northern Australia and Indonesia and a high pressure system over the coast of Peru causing the Trade Winds over the Pacific Ocean to move strongly from east to west

1. The Malaysian-Australian Monsoon. These winds blow southeast into the land, or reverse to blow northwest into Indonesia. Neither direction could take Lehi’s ship where you suggest.
Winds blow off the Pacific from east to west through Indonesia and into the Indian Ocean

2. The western wind blow winds off the Pacific Ocean into and through Indonesia precludes any sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” from moving eastward through Indonesia.
3. This is a route that has never been established in the age of sailing due to the problems with the double monsoon winds working against that direction, and the Pacific winds blow against entering the Pacific.
     The final problem is, even if you could get to the east of Australia, which the above shows would not be possible in Lehi’s ship, you would be picked up by the South Pacific Gyre which would drop you down to the Southern Ocean and across and up the coast of Chile.
9) “This would also allow them to make stops along the way to resupply.”
    Response: Obviously, you have not been reading what has been extensively written on this subject. Island hopping presents two problems (other than the winds and currents simply would not allow that for a ship “driven forth before the wind”):
Any area within 100 miles of shore is referred to as the “Danger Zone,” because visible rocks, reefs, sand spits, and uncovered rock that can rip holes in the hull; the area closer to shore is called the “nearshore” where currents are caused by wave action, such as eddies or overfalls, tide changes, swells, sudden heavy surf, irregular bottom, and tide race and streams which are typically quite tricky for a sailing ship

1. Maneuvering a large, deep-ocean vessel through the coral reefs, sand spits, rock shelves, submerged rocks, etc., to land within a protected area of an island takes a great deal of skill with a ship whose motivation is simply wind and currents. Nephi and his family had no sailing skill and were dependent on instruction—the dangers, difficulties and problems that would arise are overwhelming.
Note the dangerous shoals and reefs surrounding each of these South Pacific Islands, which is typical of islands in the South Pacific

2. Can’t you just see the rebellious Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael seeing an opportunity to gain control of the ship with land in sight and either landing and staying on a beautiful South Seas island or trying to return to Jerusalem?
    Remember, we are not talking about a small Polynesian canoe, we are talking about a 100-ton sailing ship that goes where wind and currents take it, like a small piece of wood you put in a gutter stream as a child and watched the current take it down the street.
10) “Plus, the map of wind currents you show on the blog shows the Earth as it is today, with a fully formed South American continent. If the world looked as you suggest in 600BC, South America would have been a small, skinny island. The wind and ocean currents would have been completely different under those circumstances.”
    Response: You need to study winds and currents more. They are dependent upon gravity (rotation of the Earth), the moon and somewhat the sun, the Coriolis Effect, and the placement of land masses (not size, but land mass—a skinny island effects the winds and currents much like a continent as long as the shore line is about the same). After all, the winds and currents in the Sea of Arabia and Indian Ocean are not affected by the limitation of South America as an island; the Pacific and Southern Oceans are not affected, the latter because it movement is affected by land masses to obstruct is circumpolar route, the Pacific because the Humbolt Current would still move northward along Chile and South America. The only change would be the missing connection of Panama and that effects only the pass-through (Central American Seaway) to the Caribbean Sea by the Pacific at the area of the Pacific Ocean counter current which would then have passed on through where Panama is now connected, effecting only the current Panama Gulf and Channel and the currents around the Cocos Islands and the currents flowing past the Colombian Trench, forcing the currents around this area into a north-south flow, instead of an east-west flow, causing a change in temperature along the southern half of Central America and within the Caribbean Sea. The biggest change is found in the Gulf Stream of the mid- to northern Atlantic, which would have totally had no effect on the Pacific Currents used by Lehi’s course. It also brought about the Great American Interchange—movement of animals north and south in the Americas.
    We might also add that this change no doubt had an effect on creating or worsening the Atacama Desert, and area that may well have been verdant like most of western South America prior to the rising of the Andes. However, it would not have affected the currents as we now see them along the path Lehi would have taken.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing with the inquiry of the reader Tyrus regarding questions about the Book of Mormon Land of Promise. In the last post, we responded last to the “sinking” of the city of Moroni and others during the time of the crucifixion. 
    Continuing with Tyrus' questions:
6) “This means that they were not sunk by rain water, otherwise the water would have dissipated. They weren’t covered by a tsunami or the water would have receded back to the ocean and these cities wouldn’t have remained under water. The cities would have had to either fall into the ocean or the water of a large lake (that was big enough to be considered the sea) would have had to rise up to sink the cities (probably through some volcanic/tectonic event). Either way, the water was still there after the Crucifixion. How does this fit with your theory of the Andes rising up to displace the East Sea?”
    Response: “First of all, the Andes did not rise out of the East Sea, the Andes rose as a result of two tectonic plates slamming into one another, which is how mountains are formed, thus creating high mountains from level valleys as Samuel prophesied. In this case, very suddenly and very catastrophically as noted by all the damage.
Now, when the land or mountains rise as a result of this tectonic action, the water table is affected, both above and beneath the surface (aquifer). In this case, the surface water (sea covering the eastern continent) begins to be pushed back out of the way, but first it cascades into the deepening trenches formed by the tectonic collision as the land sinks and is covered by the water. Then the waters are pushed back away from the rapidly rising ground (mountains) toward lower ground. We see this in the remains of the elevated lands (mountains) around Lake Titicaca.
    Thus, as the Andes came up, the water then known as the East Sea receded across the rising continental shelf to the north, east and south through and into forming the present nine drainage basins of the continent. Mostly, however, the water flowed into and remained within the Amazonian area (Brazil), since that land did not rise that high and much of the water was trapped in various low areas. This is seen even today, as the Amazonian Drainage Basin floods most of this area during half of the year as more water is added from rains and snow melt in the Andes, etc.
The Amazonian Drainage Basin is barely above water, with many areas submerged year round and the entire area underwater from winter flooding for four months of the year

As the mountains rose suddenly, 35 to 40 water sources were trapped, later to run off toward the sea to the west in the Pacific Ocean, with others flowing to the east in the Amazonian River Flood Plain or south into Patagonia. Geologists have drawn maps of these eastern seas and how they were altered when the continent came up to its present form.In addition, Charles Darwin, not our favorite source of anything, wrote extensively about this happening in the time of man since he found numerous ocean shells and marine life trapped in the high Andes mountains on his way from Santiago, Chile, over the Andes to Argentina, claiming they were quite recently deposited at those heights by the sea which had receded hundreds of miles to the east.
    As mentioned in the last post, what 4 Nephi 1:9 says, is that “Many cities which had been sunk, and waters came up in the stead, thereof; therefore these cities could not be renewed,” however, it does not say that a sea, lake or river was then formed in its place—only that the cities could not be renewed. Nor does it say all the cities resulted in the same end situation. The point is, that when land (cities) are inundated with water, it is typically from a tidal wave or tsunami, both are natural results of earthquakes near water (seas). Thus, these cities (Moroni) were covered with water at one point, which means they could have been swept away, covered with mud from the sea or from collapsing land as the waters came up, inundating the land so that it became unbuildable for many years until the water recedes into the water table, sometimes leaving ground suited for building again, sometimes not; or the land could have been covered by trapped water (“in the stead thereof”) that formed a lake, etc.
    The point is, that all we know from the scriptural record is that where the city of Moroni once stood near the East Sea and near the border between Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi, it was first covered with water, and secondly that it disappeared (covered with water or swept away) and could not be renewed, and that there was water where the city once stood. In the case of the trapped or standing water (“in the stead thereof”), in the thousand to 1500 years afterward before the Spanish arrived, this water would likely have dissipated, i.e., either runoff back toward the sea or seeped down into the aquifer.
Another example of this standing water left after a tsunami that inundates the land and makes renewal impossible for some time is seen in the tsunami that hit Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, on March 14, 2011. It is of note that Miyako city, which has 33-foot sea walls, warning sirens, and routinely conducts tsunami drills, was completely destroyed as the water rose in the bay to a height far exceeding 33-feet and crashed over the anti-tsunami walls. After the tsunami receded, it left behind a devastated area inundated with standing water that had nowhere to go, hampering any attempt at cleanup or renewal for a lengthy period. This was the largest mega-temblor in the nation’s history and fourth-largest in recorded history, the 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off the northeastern coast of Honshu, on mainland Japan Miyagi, Japan 2011.
    It should be kept in mind that the damages of these and all other earthquake-tsunami events happen in a matter of seconds to a few minutes—the earthquake damage that hit in 3 Nephi lasted 3 hours. One can hardly even imagine the damage involved in three hours.
(See the next post, “Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part III,” for more on this and the rest of the questions from Tyrus.