Monday, March 24, 2014

A Look at Phyllis Carol Olive and Her Great Lakes Model – Part IV

Continuing from the last post with Phyllis Carol Olive’s book The Lost lands of the Book of Mormon, in which she makes several comments that obviously need a scriptural reference check, since they have a lot to do with her description of the Great Lakes as the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, and not particularly what the scriptural record actually tells us. 
    Resuming the last post’s comments, and running across perhaps Olive’s most ridiculous statement, she writes: “Hagoth’s ship may have been even larger, but may still have been light weight enough for overland portage by a strong crew…”
Portage is carrying a canoe or small boat across land from one water source (river, lake, etc.) to another. The early fur traders made this famous carrying their small canoes from river to river in order to move their fur pelts from the mountains to Rendezvous or trading posts; however, these portages were small boats, something two or three men could carry—and at times a single man, though this was rare. To portage “an exceedingly large ship” is simply out of the questions—no one could carry such a vessel across mountains, through forests, over even or in hilly country—not even by “a strong crew”
    Response: Here again Olive is conditioned to think along her pre-determined location in the Great Lakes causing her to think of Hagoth’s ship as some type of canoe or raft that could be carried or portaged across the land between the many rivers in the area. There is absolutely nothing in the scriptural record to suggest such a thing was done or needed to be done. Hagoth launched his ships into the West Sea—that is not a river or lake, but a sea—and they took their course northward.
    Hagoth’s was a business, and contrary to those who have not run their own business, was in business to make money. Consequently, to build an “exceedingly large ship” to transport people a couple of miles or so would not only be unprofitable, but clearly foolish. In addition, Joseph Smith in 1829 would have known what a canoe was, and also a raft, and no doubt a sailing ship. He chose the word ship and the Spirit allowed that word which should suggest it was a ship—the kind at least known in Joseph’s day.
Horse-drawn packet boat being hauled along the Erie Canal in 1840. These were used primarily to move freight and goods. In a few years, $15-mllion passed over the canal, twice that carried along the Mississippi River
    Olive’s Comment: “By way of comparison—in the 1800s the barges that traversed the Erie Canal were two story, snub nosed boats about 50 to 55 feet in length and carried over four dozen passengers. Today, the vessels that traverse the very same waterways can be as much as 300 feet long and 40 feet wide and can carry burdens of many tons. Such a waterway could certainly carry vessels large enough to carry many to more distant lands.”
The 1850 passenger/freight snub-nosed boats moving along the Erie Canal--this was a leisurely, social event, hardly the description of an emigrant ship as mentioned in the scriptural record
    Response: First of all, the Erie Canal (Clinton’s Big Ditch” and “Clinton’s Folly”), was a hand dug canal forty feet wide and only four feet deep, where vessels were towed with rope by horses or mules—they did not sail because of the narrowness of the way and the lowness of the many bridges spanning the canal. In fact, as one 1836 passenger wrote: “ The Bridges on the Canal are very low, particularly the old ones. Indeed they are so low as to scarcely allow the baggage to clear, and in some cases actually rubbing against it. Every Bridge makes us bend double if seated on anything, and in many cases you have to lie on your back. The Man at the helm gives the word to the passengers: 'Bridge,' 'very low Bridge,' 'the lowest in the Canal,' as the case may be. Some serious accidents have happened for want of caution. A young English Woman met with her death a short time since, she having fallen asleep with her head upon a box, had her head crushed to pieces.” Obviously, it would have been impossible to have a two-story barge as Olive claims. 
Of all the images found showing the barges pulled along the Erie Canal from 1825 onward are open cargo carriers or one level passenger boats. Though passengers would occasionally sit on the roof during open stretches, no two-story boats were ever on the Erie Canal because of the short clearance between bridges and boat
    Secondly, the Erie Canal, like all canals and small rivers, have little or no current to speak of and movement was easy and generally very slow. In the 1800s, a leisurely ride along the Erie Canal was a social delight, a pleasant experience with a striking view. Even today, it takes 8 days to travel the 338 miles of the canal at such a slow pace as to drive modern people to stress after the first couple of days. It is hard to imagine that Hagoth’s immigrants would have been satisfied to take such a leisurely ride to an unknown land where they were interested in starting a new life in a new land.
    Third, the Packet Boats of the Canal were generally 70 feet long, with a kitchen and bar, with the forward part being the ladies’ cabin and separated by a curtain, but at meal time, the curtain was removed and the table was set the whole length of the boat, and at night settees on each side unfolded into sleeping cots with the outside hung by cord.
As described by one passenger in 1836, “When unfolded, the cots look like so many shelves and I was apprehensive upon first seeing them, lest the cords should break; however, I was told such never happened.” Also, the top of the cabin, which formed a sort of deck, was nearly flat, with a six inch rail around it, and was only about four or five feet above the water line
Today, the Erie Canal can carry much larger and heavier boats under their own power, though they have to be less than 300 feet because that is the length of the locks
In the beginning, however, before the opening of the Erie Canal, Genesee Valley wheat took 20 days to reach Albany by wagon. The cost to move a ton of wheat was $100. With the completion of the canal, a ton of wheat could make the trip all the way to New York City in just 10 days for only $5 in transportation charges.  In 1825, roughly 562,000 bushels of wheat, plus 221,000 barrels of flour, 435,000 gallons of whiskey, and 32 million board feet of lumber helped make up the 185,000 tons of eastbound canal cargo. Only 32,000 tons were shipped west, consisting mainly of manufactured goods. The total amount of freight moved on the Erie
Canal increased in volume as the years went by. Although it took until 1845 for annual tonnage to surpass one million, the two-million-ton mark was topped only seven years later. By 1860, freight totals on the canal had increased to 1,896,975 tons eastbound and 379,000 tons westbound.
    In 1862, swollen by Civil War shipments, canal freight traffic exceeded three million tons. This high rate of tonnage continued after the end of the war and during much of the next three decades. In fact, in 1880 the Erie Canal experienced its greatest year, with 4,608,651 tons carried. The huge amount of trade on the canal produced considerable revenue for the state of New York. Tolls collected in 1820 totaled a mere $28,000; four years later, before the canal was officially opened, canal traffic had surged to 10,000 boats paying $300,000 in tolls.
The Erie Canal today. When we speak of very long boats, they are commercial barges under their own power. No boats pulled by horses, mules or oxen in the 1800s and 1900s were very long because of the weight involved in pulling
    However, in the 1800-1900s, the thousands of boats that plied the Erie and other canals in the 19th century fell into two categories: packet boats and freight boats. Packet boats were designed to carry people and had cabins stretching nearly from bow (front section of a vessel) to stern (rear section of a vessel); and freighters generally had two small shelters at either end of the boat. Often family-owned, the freight boat housed people in the stern cabin and stabled horses or mules in the bow cabin. Nonworking animals rested on the boat between towing shifts. The remainder of the space on a freight boat was for cargo. These boats were normally about 75-feet long, and carried agricultural products east and manufactured goods west.
    The point of all this is merely to show that when Olive, or other Theorists begin talking about history to try and substantiate their Great Lakes claim for the Land of Promise, they often talk about matters of which they are truly unfamiliar—some believe no one will check up on what they say, and some simply do not pay a great deal of attention to actual fact. The end result is the continuation of a theory that simply is not defensible according to the scriptural record.
(See the next post, “A Look at Phyllis Carol Olive and Her Great Lakes Model-Part V,” for more of Olive’s statements that are not supported by the scriptural record, and do not match the descriptions of the Land of Promise as we have them)

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