Thursday, June 5, 2014

When is a theory not a theory? – Part IV

Continuing with the Theory that the Great Lakes area is the Land of Promise and the question, “If Lehi landed in that area, how did he get there?” To which Great Lakes Theorists glibly answer that he went up a river from the ocean and into the Eastern waterway system toward the Great Lakes and finally walked the final short distance.
    In the previous posts, we showed once again that the St. Lawrence and Mississippi rivers were not the avenue Lehi could have taken with his deep-sea vessel that Nephi built as these Theorists claim. We have also shown that he could not have sailed up the largest eastern river, the Susquehanna, nor another eastern major river the Potomac. In this post, we will look at other possibilities of sailing along the inland waterway system of the Eastern U.S. to show there is no possibility that Lehi sailed from the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes
The Santee River Watershed in the Carolinas, far from Lake Erie, even at its headwaters 
    1. Santee River is the second largest river on the eastern coast, is 143 miles long, with its tributaries providing the principal drainage for the coastal areas of southeastern South Carolina and navigation for the central coastal plain. The river empties into the Atlantic Ocean approximately 440 miles from its farthest headwater on the Catawba River in North Carolina—a point 437 miles from Lake Erie.
    It was originally called the Jordan River by the Spaniards, who discovered it in 1526. In 1793, the 22-mile long Santee Canal was dug to link the river to the Cooper, a tidal river in South Carolina, to allow for transportation upcountry from the coast. The Santee’s depth “varies from a few inches deep to a bout 9 feet deep,” and much of the Old Santee River is only “accessible to serious paddlers.”
2. The Delaware River is the longest non-dammed river in the United States east of the Mississippi. Descending from the Catskill Mountains, it extends 388 miles in a north to south direction from the confluence of its East and West branches at Hancock, New York—345 miles from Lake Erie—to the mouth at the Delaware Bay, when it meets the Atlantic Ocean 31 miles further near Cape May. Where it passes East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, the river is 328 miles from Lake Erie. With no dams or impediments on the river's main stem, the Delaware is one of the few remaining large free-flowing rivers in the United States. 
    However, as early as 1771, the Delaware River needed to be deeper to allow shipping to reach Philadelphia on the upper river. In the "project of 1885," a 26-foot deep channel, 600 feet wide, was dug along the shallow Delaware River from Philadelphia to deep water in the Delaware Bay, and the River and Harbor Act of 1899 provided for the channel to be 30-foot deep. In addition, canals were also dug at Trenton and Bulls Island, as well as the Morris Canal to the Hudson River and later the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal was completed. All of this opened up the Delaware River to handle ocean-going vessels that earlier it was unable to do. 
Top and Bottom: The Delaware River above Trenton. Note how shallow and clogged with rock, sand bars, and shoals it is, making any ship passing impossible
Above: Top: Skinners Falls; Bottom: The Shallow Trenton Falls. Note again how impossible for shipping to pass upriver through these areas
Above: Staircase Rapids on the Upper Delaware River. No sailing ship could pass through here
    According to Delaware River officials, one rapids area used by tubers, a 5 to 6 mile stretch of the Delaware River, has a depth between 2 and 4 feet, in a few places it can be 6 to 8 feet—certainly too shallow for any sailing vessel.
    It should be kept in mind that from the mouth of the river to a distance of 134 miles, the river is navigable, but there to Wells Falls is another matter, and these falls are “the most severe rapids on the Delaware.” In fact, in 1834, New Jersey commissioned E.A. Douglas, an engineer, to investigate the Wells Falls and, in part, his report stated: “..the most dangerous part of the falls” where “rocks crowd the channel.”
    Besides the Trenton Falls and Wells Falls, along the Delaware, there are numerous other rapids, such as the Skinners Rapids, Falls of the Delaware, along with rifts and rapids including Ten Mile, Shohola, and Mongaup, with the entire Upper Delaware known as Whitewater Haven.
Top: The shallow Delaware River at Hawk’s Nest, New York, 343 Miles from Lake Erie; Bottom: The “Falls of the Delaware” passing near Trenton, New Jersey
    In addition, some might consider that the Lehigh River (branch of the Delaware) would extend the length of the Delaware, since it rises from its mouth at Easton, Pennsylvania, to a point at Bear Creek, and is 304 miles from Lake Erie. However, a 46 ½-mile long canal was dug in 1819 from Easton upriver to Mauch Chunk (Jim Thorpe), which included eight dams and guardlocks, to make navigation and shipping of coal possible, which opened up the Lehigh River.
3. Hudson River (North River/Muhheakantuck) is 325-miles long (275 miles beyond the East River), flowing southward from Henderson Lake—392 miles from Lake Erie—in the Adirondack Mountains, through eastern New York to emptying into Upper New York Bay and later the Atlantic Ocean. The Lower Hudson is actually a tidal estuary, which extends as far as Troy, New York (north of Albany and 152 miles from the river mouth), with strong tides that make it difficult and dangerous even today to navigate.
    The Mohawk, a tributary of the Hudson, is a southern branch near Albany and moves westerly for 149 miles. At its mouth at Cohoes, New York, it is 392 miles from Lake Erie and 229 miles from Lake Ontario (a ship on Lake Ontario would have to sail up the Niagara River and get up and over Niagara Falls to reach Lake Erie—a climb in elevation of 325 feet in 35 miles, more than nine feet per mile. Stated differently, that would be sailing against a current dropping nine feet per mile).
    The Mohawk today is connected to the Great Lakes via the Erie Canal at its upper length, with numerous barge locks that connect the Hudson to the lakes. At its lower length, five permanent dams and nine others are needed to provide sufficient depth for boats.
Cohoes Falls near the eastern end of the Mohawk River in Cohoes New York. To sail up the Mohawk from the Hudson, a ship would have to climb over these Falls 
    There are 19 islands in the Hudson River through the New York and New Jersey length, with the depth today of 43 feet in the lower channel and a Federally mandated depth of 32 feet to Albany. However, it is important to keep in mind that Troy Lock and Dam, 134 miles above the Battery, permits vessels to pass from tidewater to the upper river and the New York State Canal System. Before that time, a sailing ship would have found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to progress past this point. The river to Troy flows both upriver and downriver, according to the tides, but at Troy, the tidewater runs into the southward (downriver) flow of the river. Where the river has not been channeled, deepened, dredged and a depth maintained, depths as low as 7 feet are reported, with the depth at Nyack, New York Federally mandated at 10 to 12 feet, and at Mile 24, mandated for depths of 12 feet, though in places it is only 10 feet, suggesting that without such intervention, the upper river between Manhattan and Albany was originally much shallower.
    Colonel John G.D. Knight, of the Corps of in Engineers, specified in 1907-8 report found in the U.S. Congressional [Record] Serial Set, that a channel in this area of upper Hudson had to be deep enough to accommodate schooners and barges, and to maintain a depth of 12 feet (for commercial traffic), as much as five feet would have to be dredged (a minimum depth at the time showed 8.6 feet (7 feet in places), which was considered acceptable at the time because the river steamboats drew only five to six feet). He also noted that the river was as low as five feet in some areas. In another 1908 report in the Congressional Record of the Engineers, it is stated that the low water level of the Hudson in the area of Nyack is at 8.6 feet, but also mentioned that depths at Piermont were shallow and to maintain the required depth would take “frequent operations at considerable expense.”
    Once again, if you are going to postulate a theory, it has to agree with all of the facts involved. Nothing less should be acceptable when postulating about the Book of Mormon. And for the Great Lakes and Heartland theorists, you simply cannot sail up a river that is not navigable to reach an area you claim to be the Land of Promise.
    And this brings as back to the point about theories.
    A theory is no longer a theory when it can be shown that there is no way for the theory to have happened. Wishful thinking does not equate to a legitimate theory, nor does ignoring the facts involved. Nephi told us how he got to the Land of Promise and what he found on it—at the location he landed. Mormon gave us numerous descriptions of the Land of Promise and told us much about it, as well as the place of Lehi's landing, which he called "their land of First Inheritance." Ether, through Moroni, supported Mormon’s descriptions and added more.
    Taken as a whole, the scriptural record cannot be used as the basis of a theory, when that theory flies in the face of the record, and is unsupportable by the facts involved in the theory itself. You simply cannot pick the Lehi Colony up along the Arabian Peninsula and place them down wherever you want. Nor can you claim they sailed here or there when the facts of sailing—winds and currents—do not support that and, in fact, make it impossible.

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