Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Mississippi River – The Head of a River

Since there is so much effort by theorists to use the River Sidon as a jumping off point in defining and supporting their pre-detrmined land of promise locations, a lot of misinformation has resulted. Especially in theorists attempting to claim the head of a river, or its headwaters, means something other than it does. 
   The simple fact is, the word “head” or “headwaters” has one specific meaning and none other. It is the beginning or source of a river, typically up in the mountains. The head of a river in 1828 Webster’s is defined as “To originate; to spring; to have its source, as a river. Properly, the spring or fountain from which a stream of water proceeds, or any collection of water within the earth or upon its surface, in which a stream originates. This is called also the head of the stream” (emphasis added).
The River Source, at the beginning of a river. It may have additional tributaries from that point downstream, but every river has one source, called the “head” or “headwaters,” from which it flows downhill to its “mouth”

It is also interesting how many people have such an incorrect view of the Sidon River. As an example, those who champion the heartland, as some of our readers proclaim, erroneously want to use the Mississippi River as the Sidon River, however, the problem is that the Mississippi River, which runs for 2552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico from its source in northwest Minnesota, runs from the north to the south and actually has no descriptive part that matches the criteria of the Sidon River as Mormon describes it in the scriptural record.
    One of the important facts is that the head or headwaters of the Mississippi River is about 1000 miles north of the area of Iowa and Illinois considered by some to be in the heartland of the United States Land of Promise.
    However, before one starts to consider the Sidon River as being the Mississippi, we need to consider that the Sidon River has four specific directions from Zarahemla that cannot be overlooked and do not agree with the Mississippi:
1. The head or headwaters (beginning source) of the River Sidon was to the south of Zarahemla. According to Mormon’s description, the Sidon River began in the southern wilderness—that narrow strip of wilderness that separated the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla and ran from the Sea East to the Sea West (Alma 22:27), and ran north, through the Land of Zarahemla or along its borders with the Valley of Gideon (Alma 6:7).
2. The Valley of Gideon was to the east of the Land of Zarahemla, as seen in “he departed from them yea from the church which was in the city of Zarahemla and went over upon the east of the river Sidon into the valley of Gideon there having been a city built which was called the city of Gideon which was in the valley that was called Gideon” (Alma 6:7).
3. Manti was south of Gideon, as seen in “And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward away to the land of Manti" (Alma 17:1).
4. The headwaters of the Sidon River was in the Land of Manti in the narrow strip of wilderness to the south of Zarahemla, where the river ran “through the borders of Manti by the head of the river Sidon” (Alma 22:27). Also, “and they took their journey round about in the wilderness away by the head of the river Sidon that they might come into the land of Manti and take possession of the land” (Alma 43:22).
The source or headwaters of the Mississippi River is in Itasca state Park, Minnesota: Top: Lake Itasca in the background, the mouth of the Mississippi River in the foreground as it moves toward the lower right; Bottom: The Mississippi River one mile downstream from Lake Itasca in Minnesota

Thus, the Sidon River began (had its headwaters) in the south wilderness, south of the Land of Zarahemla, then flowed northward through the Land of Zarahemla, evidently between the Land of Zarahemla and the Valley of Gideon, toward the sea.
    In the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, we find “Head,” a verb intransitive meaning “To originate; to spring; to have its source, as a river.” This is no different from dictionary definitions today: “Head of a River: The source or headwaters of a river or stream is the furthest place in that river or stream from its estuary or confluence with another river, as measured along the course of the river.”
    We can also suggest that not only do we have a dictionary definition of head or headwaters, but it states clearly in the scriptural record that “head” of a river, means its beginning, as stated in Lehi’s dream: “And as I cast my eyes round about that perhaps I might discover my family also I beheld a river of water and it ran along and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit. And I looked to behold from whence it came and I saw the head thereof a little way off and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah and Sam and Nephi and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go” (1 Nephi 8:13-14).
    Thus, when it says, “and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added), it is referring to its source or beginning. Obviously, then the "head" of a river in the Book of Mormon meant its source, not its mouth. That is why the armies would travel to the head so they could cross on dry land to get from one side of the river to the other and into the Land of Manti (Alma 43:22).
    In addition, we need only look at a resolution topo map of the United States, which should end speculation and irresponsible comments since it shows the land fall of how it actually is and not what someone claims. In the map below, we see a central depression area down the Mississippi Valley from Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexio, a continual fall in elevation from 577’ at Lake Michigan to sea level at the Gulf of Mexico.
Top: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology Resolution Topo Map of U.S., showing the Heartland Depression of the Mississippi Waterway (between the white arrows) from Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico. The only hills or low mountains are those on either side (yellow arrows)—The closest true mountains are those in the Rocky Mountains beginning in Colorado to the West—to the east (far right yellow arrow) are the Appalachians which barely reach 6000 feet; Bottom: Mount Mitchell at 6683 feet in North Carolina, is the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi—actually east of the Rocky Mountains—not really a mountain, but a dome-topped hill

According to the Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Process, Coastal Sediments Proceedings Sixth International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science, Ports, Harbors and Rivers, Institute of ASCE, 2007, “Only barges can access the Illinois Waterway system providing access to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Larger and deeper bottomed vessels can only operate within the Great Lakes themselves and cannot access the various rivers that lead into the lakes.”
The Mississippi Draining Area, covering all or part of 22 states

This entire Mississippi Draining Area is basically a downhill drain or run, from north to south, and all rivers, streams, etc., in the area run in that direction for the majority of their length. Yet, in the scriptural record, the area to the south of Zarahemla, including most of the Land of Nephi, is at an elevated level well above that of Zarahemla, which would be to the Heartland people in the Keokuk, Iowa, to the Nauvoo, Illinois, area toward the top of the central light yellow area on the above map. Again, this is contrary to the scriptural record, and shows that the Mississippi River could not possibly be the Nephite Sidon River.
    With all the technology we have today, with NASA satellite images, maps, etc., with an understanding of reading clay and mud deposits along riverbeds, etc., there is no way people can any longer make up something that sounds good to them or they think supports their views—we live in the information age and information on everything is available to almost anyone—any claim, view, or belief can be researched and determined on its merits.
    Therefore, the Heartland Theory, the Mississippi River as the Sidon River, simply cannot be justified when one looks at the truth of the matter and not someone’s emotional pre-determined views. They can no longer say, “The river was not wide two thousand years ago,” or “Nobody knows how the Mississippi river looked 2000 years ago,” because we do know exactly how it was configured, how deep it was, where it flowed, etc.
    Consequently, it’s time that theorists stopped relying on their beliefs and personal views, and begin understanding facts surrounding their models and recognize that they do not match the scriptural record and that record cannot be altered by them to match their views.

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