Friday, March 7, 2014

Could the Great Lakes be the Narrow Neck of Land? – Part I

In the last three posts, we covered the numerous scriptures that illustrate the layout and design of the narrow neck of land as described by Mormon in the scriptural record, and shown how the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica, the Isthmus of Darien in Panama, and the Isthmus of Rivas in Nicaragua do not match the descriptions in the scriptural record. While the theorists involved in those models would naturally not agree with our comments, all that is being done here is to show how these models do not match, or even come close to matching Mormon’s descriptions.  
The narrow neck of land (yellow arrow) at the end of Lake Erie, which Miner claims is the West Sea
    So let us turn to another Theory and model, that of the Great Lakes in the western New York region. In this area there is more than one suggestion for a narrow neck. Alan C. Miner places the narrow neck of land between Lake Erie and Lake Superior at a time when an ancient called Lake Tonawanda is said to have existed as the result of the retreat of the last Wisconsin Glacier. The lake was located east of the Niagara River that covered the area between western New York and Rochester, including the present city of Tonawanda, and north of Buffalo eastward through the present Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge to Northampton Park west of Rochester—not to be confused with Tonawanda Lake, about 200-feet across by 100 just north of Duck Lake in upper Michigan about 20 miles east of Lake Michigan and about 375 miles west of the ancient location of the ice-age Lake Tonawanda.
Lake Tonawanda was a prehistoric lake that existed approximately 10,00 to 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, located on the southern (upper) side of the Niagara Escarpment
    There are several problems with this location for both the Narrow Neck of Land and the entire Land of Promise being in this location. Not the least of which is how Nephi’s ship, “driven forth before the wind,” managed to get into Lake Erie (Miner’s West Sea) to land, for Nephi tells us: “And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23). Now in plain and simple language, Nephi tells us they sailed across the Irreantum Sea from Bountiful, to where they landed in the promised land, they went forth upon the land and pitched their tents. There is no comment, suggestion, or indication that the Lehi Colony traveled anywhere away from this point to reach where they pitched their tents—a place from which it is never said anyone left until Nephi took those who would go with him and fled from his brothers who threatened to kill him (2 Nephi 5:5).
Hagoth’s shipyard (yellow arrow) is claimed to have been located in the approximate area of Niagara Falls, about 22 miles north of Lake Erie (white arrow), which is Miner’s West Sea
    One of the big problems with Miner’s map is that he has Hagoth located about 22 miles up the Niagara River from Lake Erie—his West Sea. The problem is, that this river flows northward into what is now Lake Ontario (anciently called Lake Iroquois), dropping over 325 feet in the process—half of that drop (168 feet) occurs between Erie and where Miner has placed his Hagoth shipyards. Any ship built by Hagoth and launched into the river to get to the West Sea would be against a current running about three-feet per second, carrying six-million cubic feet of water.
    First of all, a shipbuilder would never build a shipyard downriver from the river mouth where he would plan to sail his ship. Running 22 miles against such a strong current would simply make no sense when a shipyard could be located elsewhere that did not involve sailing against the current to get to the sea. While building a shipyard upriver from the sea so the vessel could sail with the current down to the sea makes perfect sense, and while on a map it may look that way with the Niagara River, the river actually flows northward from Erie into Ontario then along the St. Lawrence to the Gulf and then into the North Atlantic.
    Secondly, Hagoth’s ships could not have sailed north into Lake Ontario and then to the St. Lawrence, since that river was impassable because of the Lachine Rapids around Montreal, where a bypassing channel had to be cut in 1825 to allow shipping to move between Lake Ontario and the Atlantic. However, even if that was Miner’s intent, the problem is, Mormon tells us that Hagoth launched his ships into the West Sea (Alma 63:5)
    Thirdly, even if Hagoth could manage to sail upriver to the West Sea (Lake Erie), there would be no change for these ships to “take their course northward” from there as Mormon tells us (Alma 63:6).
    Another problem with this map is that, while Mormon tells us the narrow passage between the Land Southward and the Land Northward ran through the narrow neck with the sea on the west and on the east (Alma 50:34), Miner’s map does not show this; he places the East Sea about 100 miles to the east of the West Sea, while his narrow neck is to the north of the West Sea.
Miner’s East Sea (yellow arrow) is really only a river according to geologists, and there never was a sea or even a lake in this area
    Though they are called Finger Lakes today, they originated as a series of northward-flowing streams that were eventually dammed up by retreating glaciers in the last ice age, about 10,000 to 12,500 years ago. The two longest today, Cayuga and Seneca lakes are close to 40 miles long, but average just over one-and-a-half miles across, the widest region being only three-and-a-half miles across. Shaped like outstretched fingers, they look more like rivers than lakes and are easily mistaken for such by newcomers to the region, and never were, even in antiquity, connected into one mass.
   This is where Miner places his East Sea (see yellow arrow in above image) and is far from the description of this eastern boundary of the Land of Promise. There is nothing about these placid waters to suggest that Nephnites or Lamanites could not easily have crossed to the other side, or even bypassed them in the north or the south and certainly would not have posed any deterrent to such crossing or bypassing, yet nowhere in scripture is a land to the east of the East Sea ever mentioned or even suggested in any way.
The Finger Lakes look more like rivers than lakes. Top: the finger lakes in upstate New York; Middle/Bottom: Shots of the finger lakes that look more like rivers than lakes and originally were rivers. Note their narrow width
    There is also a problem with this map and the East Sea since Mormon tells us that the Land of Nephi stretched from the East Sea to the West Sea (Alma 22:27), but this is not possible in Miner’s placement of these areas. Neither could the Land of Nephi be nearly surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land, as Mormon describes (Alma 22:32); and there is no possibility of a narrow pass being bordered on the Sea West and the Sea East (Alma 50:34). Nor are we dealing with a land that is or was once an island (2 Nephi 10:20). Also, Miner has the hill Cumorah to the east of the East Sea—once again, nothing in the scriptural record ever suggests any land to the east of the East Sea. There is also a problem with the City of Teancum in the far south near the border of the Land of Nephi, for Mormon tells us that it was “in the borders by the seashore and it was also near the city Desolation (Mormon 4:3), at the opposite end of the Nephite lands than where Miner places it. He also has the land of Jershon to the west of Zarahemla, but Mormon tells us that Jershon was “on the east by the sea and joins the land Bountiful” (Alma 27:22), far from where Miner has placed it. Nor is there any real separation between the Land Southward and Miner’s Land Northward, as Mormon describes in Alma 22:27-34). In short, Miner’s map is far from matching any of the descriptions Mormon gave us.
(See the next post, “Could the Great Lakes be the Narrow Neck of Land? – Part II,” for other areas in the Great Lakes region that are claimed to have been the area of the narrow neck of land)

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