Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In Search of the Sidon River – Part VII

There are few geographic locations in the Land of Promise mentioned as often as the Sidon River, and few that elicit such controversial opinions. However, perhaps the most ridiculous claim by a Theorist is that of Phyllis Carol Olive who writes about the River Sidon in her Welcome to Book of Mormon Lands of Western New York, “The Near Cumorah Setting,” and claims that the Buffalo Creek is the river Sidon. 
Strahler stream order, based on a hierarchy of tributaries, shows #1 (blue) the first level (headwaters) then a second level #2 (green) follows, which may also flow into #3 (yellow) and even #4 (red). The Buffalo Creek is a #1, as are both the Cayuga and Cazenovia creeks further downstream, and the Buffalo River is a #2
    Returning to the waterways from the previous post about Phyllis Carol Olive’s river Sidon and comparing her Buffalo Creek, there is also another category of waterways listed by the geographers, geologists, and hydrologists in their nomenclature. The smallest waterway is referred to as a brook or creek. The order, as it appeared in the Geological Society of America Bulletin in 1952, states: “Based on stream order and local languages, the smallest of these waterways are also sometimes called brooks and/or creeks. Large waterways (at the highest level of the stream order) are called rivers and exist as a combination of many tributary streams. When using stream order to classify a stream, the sizes range from a first order stream all the way to the largest, a 12th order stream. A first order stream is the smallest of the world's streams and consists of small tributaries. These are the streams that flow into and "feed" larger streams but do not normally have any water flowing into them. In addition, first and second order streams generally form on steep slopes and flow quickly until they slow down and meet the next order waterway.”
Even when the Buffalo Creek becomes a River with the inflow of the Cayuga and the Cazenovia creeks, it is still a shallow waterway where local kids fish in less than knee deep water
    When Olive claims her small Buffalo Creek would be called a River, it is important to understand these classifications, which go on to read: “First through third order streams are also called headwater streams and constitute any waterways in the upper reaches of the watershed. It is estimated that over 80% of the world’s waterways are these first through third order, or headwater streams (Buffalo Creek and River and first and second order).
    Going up in size and strength, streams that are classified as fourth through sixth order are medium streams while anything larger (up to 12th order) is considered a river.
    Thus, despite Olive’s attempt to make her Buffalo Creek into a river from its headwaters 16 miles northwest to Elma, her Buffalo Creek (that part that flows north to match the scriptural record) is merely that—a creek, the smallest of the streams. That is, it is “a first order stream…the smallest of the world's streams and consists of small tributaries [and are the] streams that flow into and "feed" larger streams but do not normally have any water flowing into them.”
    Buffalo Creek, which has a limited depth until it becomes the Buffalo River, is hardly the river Sidon Mormon describes and Joseph Smith translated as “River.”
    Nor does it meet the needs for length. Olive’s Buffalo Creek is only about 40 miles from headwaters to mouth.
Phyllis Carol Olive’s map of her Land of Promise. Red line: her river Sidon; Light Green Arrow: Sea East; Dark Green Arrow: Sea West; Dark Blue Arrow: Hill Cumorah (to the east of her Sea East); Yellow Arrow: Narrow Strip of Wilderness, which does not run from sea to sea, and is divided by (Orange Arrow) the Cataraugus Creek; Light Blue Arrow: City of Nephi, which is nearly twice as far from the headwaters of the river Sidon as the Sidon is long in running to the Sea West—none of which matches Mormon’s descriptions
    As shown in the map above, her entire Land of Promise is only about 75 miles from north to south, with much of the area she calls the Land Northward under water in her ancient Lake Tonawanda, yet an area of several million Jaradites according to the scriptural record. It is simply impossible to place the entire Book of Mormon lands in an area about 100 miles square as Olive attempts to do.
    Another example of Olive’s (like most Theorists’) tendency to make things up to agree with their ideas is her statement: “Because the river was called Sidon by the Mulekites, who were the first to occupy Zarahemla and settle along Buffalo Creek, we might wonder if they named it after the port of Sidon along the ancient Mediterranean Sea where they may have secured passage to the New world.”
    The problem is, in the scriptural record, there is no mention of who named the river Sidon, or from where the word originated. To speculate upon the name seems fruitless, since the name could have been given it by the Nephites, since it ran to the east of the land of Zarahemla, i.e., perhaps along the borders of the Land of Gideon, which was to the east of the river and the land of Zarahemla.
    Mosiah left the city of Nephi around 205 B.C., encountered the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites), interpreted Coriantumr’s stone engraving, and was elected king over the combined Mulekite and Nephite people. In all of this, we learn only about the existence of the Land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:13), and the people of Zarahemla (Omni 1:14), and that Zarahemla was the leader of this people (Omni 1:18). In all of this, and throughout this event, all of the Book of Mosiah following, and not until Alma 2:15, do we hear of the river Sidon. And there it is stated: “came upon the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla.”
    Note that the river Sidon ran by the land of Zarahemla—not by the city of Zarahemla, not through the land of Zarahemla, but “by the land,” which word “by” is interpreted as “near” the land (not the city).
    The city of Zarahemla is first mentioned as being beyond the valley of Gideon, which was to the east of the river Sidon, which was to the east of the city of Zarahemla (Alma 6:7). Thus, the river Sidon ran near the land of Zarahemla and on the west of the land of Gideon—perhaps it was the physical boundary between these two lands. At this time, the Nephites were in the valley of Gideon, and a combined Amlicite and Lamanite army was in the land of Minon, above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of the land of Nephi,” that is, on a direct line between the city of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, were the Amlicite/Lamanite armies (Alma 2:26)
Buffalo Creek as seen past the boy fishing, where it passes near the town of West Seneca, and the adjacent wetlands. Note the minimal depth of the creek in the background. No bodies would be floating down this creek to the river and Lake Erie beyond
    There is simply no question that Olive’s Buffalo Creek throughout its distance from the headwaters to where it turns westward, a 16 mile northward flow, as well as thereafter in its next 10 miles to the confluence of Cayuga Creek, is simply far too shallow to allow for it to match any of Mormon’s descriptions of the river Sidon. Obviously, from the pictures, there is no possibility of floating thousands of bodies down this shallow creek to the sea (Lake Erie).
Buffalo Creek about six miles west of Elma where it passes the Burchfield Nature and Art Center about seven miles east of Lake Erie, and two miles east of where the Cayuga Creek enters the stream, and about four miles east of where the Cazenovia Creek enters. At this point the extremely shallow creek is flowing westward and "a favorite of kids that can submerge themselves in the occasional holes, and flip over rocks looking for crawfish"

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