Monday, March 10, 2014

Could the Great Lakes be the Narrow Neck? Part III

Continuing from the last post regarding the proposal that the narrow neck of land crossed the ancient Lake Tonawanda between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. This ancient lake was 25 miles long and 2 to 7 miles in breadth, but only about four feet deep. Today it is basically a marshland and referred to as the Tonawanda State Wildlife Management Area, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Orchard State Wildlife Management Area, and the 2,000-acre Bergen-Byron Swamp—an area considered to be millions of years old—obviously, it would have existed during the time of the Jaredites though we hear nothing of it when the armies of Coriantumr and Shiz supposedly fought there (Ether 15:8).
A moraine is an area pushed up by glacial action, which forms lateral and terminal moraines of a valley. Top: Here a glacier formed a massive sharp-crested lateral moraine (yellow arrows) at the maximum of its expansion during the Little Ice Age. Such a moraine is the area of the proposed narrow neck of land across Lake Tonawanda; however, (bottom right) shows the width of these moraines (in comparison to the man standing on the top)
    Byron, New York, is about 7 miles northeast of Batavia, and Bergen is about five miles east of Byron, placing both directly in the area east of this proposed narrow neck of land, and exactly halfway between that and the Genesee River—according to geologists an area that was a swamp four million years ago, making it a swamp during the time Lake Tonawanda was supposed to have existed in that area. This swamp mire complex in western New York, is a mosaic of hardwood conifer forest, white cedar swamp, and open non-forested fens dominated by sedges, other herbs, and shrubs.
Various views of the Byron-Bergen Swamp that has existed for 4-million years—certainly far longer than 1,000 years ago when W. Vincent Coon claims his narrow neck of land existed across a lake that was dried up long before these fens came into being
    According to one Great Lakes theorist, his website claims: “Ancient Lake Tonawanda does exist. It is well documented and its perimeter can be identified. At the Wilson-Tuscarora State Park is an image with a description of what ancient Lake Tanowanda looked like in its earliest stages, before the Jaredites arrived.” The problem with such thinking is that we do not know when Lake Tonawanda existed, when it dried up and when it became the land it is today. Geologists claim the lake was formed between 10,000 and 12,500 years ago, while the Byron-Bergen swamp formed four million years ago, which is conflicting data since if the Byron-Bergen area did form so much earlier than Tonawanda, then the narrow neck of land Coons claims was simply not a factor since to the east there was no sea causing a confining narrow neck.
Various shots of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and the Tonawanda Wildlife Area, both to the west of the Batavia moraine where the waters of Lake Tonawanda remained long after the east side was reduced to a small pool. Note the difference in the amount of water still covering this vast area
    Now since these theorists claim a narrow land bridge ran north and south toward the eastern portion of the lake, which they call the narrow neck of land, it would be interesting to see how that might have appeared, since they claim it was the result of the Batavia moraine left after the glacier receded. First of all, and as pointed out above and in an earlier post in this series, a moraine is the residue left by a retreating glacier of boulders, rocks, sand and clay. It is typically pointed, or crested, and forms a triangular frontal view.
Left: A moraine left over from the retreating glacier 10,000 years ago as it appears today; Right: A moraine left from a retreating glacier overgrown with forest; however, note how both retain a pointed ridge which would be difficult to walk along
    What is absolutely amazing about all this is that the moraine as depicted in drawings by Coons (or Olive) show a very narrow path across the Tonawanda area that is, at best, fifty feet across. Somewhere they didn’t seem to get the “memo” from Mormon in the form of a simple statement “And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32—emphasis mine).
    A day and a half journey! You could walk across their narrow neck in one minute, or the length of it in 15 minutes. In addition, you could easily bypass this narrow neck by canoe, or since the water was only four feet deep, by walking across and island hopping. Sometimes someone’s idea is so blatantly opposed to both the simple statements of Mormon and common sense, that it is beyond comment. Take a look at this narrow neck across the Batavia moraine.
These drawings b Coons/Olive show their narrow neck of land. In the right image, there are small white lines across the width in the center of the picture—these are Nephite soldiers guarding the neck of land, which show this width to be about 50-60 feet across
    They also claim that the Narrow Neck of Land and the Narrow Passage are the same thing, stating “From such illustrated views one has to wonder what better word the ancients could have used to describe this feature of their landscape other than narrow neck of land, small neck of land, narrow pass or passageway, all of which refer to the same narrow passageway which led from the lands to the south of the lake into New York’s northern frontier. Nothing could fit better.”
    However, it is inaccurate to claim that the small or narrow neck was the same thing as the narrow pass or passasge. That they were in the same location is not being contested, but when saying they are the same, we lose the meaning Mormon conveyed. First of all, a neck of land is like an isthmus, that is a small piece of land between two larger pieces of land (a neck). On the other hand, a pass provides ingress/egress or passage through or across that land. While their Batavia morane provides passage across the shallow lake, it is not a pass, which is defined as having walls or mountain or cliffs, etc., on either side, creating a corridor through which one could travel—that is, one travels over a neck of land, but to do so in scriptural record case, one must travel through a narrower pass.
In addition, there are other problems with this map. As an example, they have the Land of Desolation to the south of the narrow neck; however, Mormon tells us: “the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful” (Alma 22:31); they also have the land of Cumorah to the east, but south of the narrow neck—and the same is true with the Land of Many Waters, yet both these lands (Mormon 6:4) were north of the narrow neck in the Jaredite lands (Helaman 8:8), which was far to the north (Alma 22:30).
    Nor can it be claimed that a river is the same thing as a sea. The word “sea” is defined as being the same as an ocean, that is it is a synonymous term. While in some cases a large lake might be called a sea, such is seldom the case. As an example, the world has 307 million lakes, not counting man-made lakes, such as reservoirs. Of those, only a handful are called seas, such as the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Aral Sea, Dead Sea, etc. The Sea of Galilee is more appropriately referred to as Lake Tiberias or Lake of Gennesaret (or Gennesar). Lakes are surrounded by land and seas are not connected by land, but are open in one way or another to the ocean. 
    The problem occurs when lakes are called seas, and occurs when they are so big you cannot distinguish it as a lake because you will not see the land surrounding the lake and you cannot see the land across it, you will only see the horizon. Such, of course, is not the case with Lake Tonawanda, or with the Genesee River, the Finger Lakes, etc. These are lakes, not seas. It might also be considered that the other large lakes in this region, also carved out of the Wisconsin ice sheet, though so large one cannot see across any of them, are all called Lakes and have always been so called except for Lake Superior—the third largest lake in the world at nearly 50,000 square miles and running 160 miles by 350 miles—which the Anishinaabe (also called Ojibwe or Chippewa) called Anishnaabe Gichgamiing, meaning “The Ojibwe’s Ocean."
(See the next post, "Could the Great Lakes be the Narrow Neck of Land?--Part IV," for more on this claim regarding the narrow neck of land being a very narrow path across ancient Lake Tonawaneda)

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