Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pathway to the Heartland and Great Lakes Landing Sites – the St Lawrence River – Part V

Continued from the last post, regarding the flat-bottomed boats that were all the boats that could move along the Mississippi prior to the dredging and deepening of the inner waterway system in North America.    Thus, since we have eliminated the possibility of Lehi reaching the inland areas of the Heartland and Great Lakes, as so many North American theorists claim he did, let’s turn our attention now to the St. Lawrence River, the only other possible approach to the Great Lakes area.
The St. Lawrence River, now called the St. Lawrence Seaway since the building of the canal around Montreal and the locks and dams leading up to Lake Ontario; Red Line: theorists claim of Lehis course from Arabia to North America; Green Line: St. Lawrence River

First of all, the enormous effort to stabilize the Mississippi River, and later the Ohio River, both having to be controlled and regulated by dams and other river engineering structures, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, building these structures to aid in navigation, flood control, hydropower, bank stabilization, and recreation. The Mississippi River and its tributaries served as major transportation routes, and the natural channel, where the St. Lawrence River (Fleuve Saint-Laurent), from the Mohawk word Kaniatarowanenneh, meaning "big waterway," had an entirely different problem that kept any kind of shipping from travelling upriver past Montreal.
    The river, flowing northeast from the Lake Ontario, which connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean, forms the primary drainage outflow of the Great Lakes Basin. The river itself moves from the Gulf of St. Lawrence along the North Atlantic where it flows past Nova Scotia to the south and Newfoundland to the north, moving southwest down to Québec City and then past Montreal and around the city to Lake St. Louis and down around north side of Grand Island and finally to Lake Ontario, a total distance of 1900 miles.
    Initially, the river from the Gulf to Montreal was called Rivière du Canada, and as a separate river beyond Montreal, because of its impassability there, was named the Ottawa River as it moved upriver toward the Great Lakes. In between were the impassable Lachine Rapids—a series of rapids three miles long, containing large standing waves (result of two waves traveling in opposite directions), indicating a turbulent current interaction.
Until the construction of the three-mile-long Lachine Canal through the southwestern part of the island of Montreal, upstream from the city, from the Old Port of Montreal to Lake Saint-Louis, through the boroughs of Lachine, Lasalle and Sud-Ouest, a distance of 8 or 9 miles had to be portaged. Even with the canal, the difficulty was such that it was usually more convenient to ship goods by rail to Montreal, where they could be loaded at the city's port.
    The original canal was begun in 1821 and was almost 9 miles long, had seven locks, each 98-feet long, 20 feet wide, and 5 feet deep, and officially opened in 1825. Soon after, the canal was deepened to allow bigger boats to pass through. In the 1840s, the Lachine Canal was again deepened to allow even heavier ships to pass through and hydraulic power was introduced to the industries located on its banks.
    At its zenith from 1880 to 1940, the industrial and manufacturing area adjacent to the canal was once the largest in Canada in terms of both the number of firms and diversity of its output. At one time, over 20% of the workforce of the Island of Montreal was employed in its factories. Given its historic importance, the "Lachine Canal Manufacturing Complex" was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1996, an addition to the designation already enjoyed by the canal itself.
    However, by 1950, the canal had become obsolete and was replaced by the St. Lawrence Seaway, which opened in 1959, but by 1970, the Lachine Canal fell victim to deindustrialization. Many of the factories that lined the Canal were torn down and replaced by houses and apartments with the entire canal abandoned due to the decline of shipping, and eventually the entire lower canal was filled in.
    It might be important to realize the significance of the difference in the Mississippi River problems and those of the St. Lawrence. First of all, hydrology, or the movement of water, did not provide the stable, uniform, consistently deeper channel that was needed for efficient navigation of the river. Channelizing and stabilizing the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers was a monumental task, requiring extensive modifications to stabilize the freely meandering river channel and banks and to create a self-scouring channel for navigation by reducing channel width and complexity. The Mississippi required a complex combination of levees to confine and separate the river channel from the flood plain, engineered floodways to reduce flood stages near critical infrastructure, channel straightening to increase the conveyance capacity of the channel, and the construction of dams on the tributaries to attenuate flood peaks and store irrigation water.
    The first major modifications consisted of widespread clearing of snags and obstructions to increase the ease and safety of river navigation. Downed trees and rocks snagged and sank keelboats and steamboats, whereas sandbars and rapids slowed or prevented the upstream movement of boats. The river was known to be particularly treacherous for steamboat navigation because of the numerous snags caused by fallen trees and branches, and a serious effort was begun removing snags and dredging the main channel of the Mississippi River in the early 1800s.
    A report stated “The snag boat O.G. Wagner removed 834 river snags and 380 shoreline snags from the river in one week” (U.S. War Department, 1882). The result of the clearing of snags and obstructions made navigation easier and safer; however, the modifications were only temporary because annual channel migration caused substantial bank erosion, and continuously fed the channel with additional trees from the banks. Thus, snag clearing often was repeated after each high-water event. River engineering projects such as channel straightening, dike construction, and revetments reduced the number of snags and obstructions, but channel dredging continues even today.
Mississippi River in 1890 and in 1990. Note the clear flow today from the many sandbar obstacles of the past

Early nineteenth century travel on the Mississippi, Ohio and Illinois Rivers was fraught with danger. There were moving sandbars, rapids, rocks, and snags throughout the rivers that could easily wreck a boat. Snags were the most significant threat to travel because they were often undetectable. River pilots described three kinds of snags:
1. “Rafts" or "wooden islands" composed of an accumulation of logs and tree debris that became grounded on a sandbar or other outcropping from the shore.
2. "Planters" were whole trees that had fallen into the river and become embedded on the bottom, over time becoming reinforced by the buildup of silt.
3. Similar to planters were "sawyers", groups of trees embedded in the river bottom at a less than perpendicular angle and subject to the pressure of the current, appearing and disappearing at intervals mimicking the motion of a saw at a saw mill.
    Often groups of planters would have only a foot or two showing above the water, and contrary to their flimsy appearance, planters could quickly ground a boat and tear into its hull. Trees were constantly falling into the rivers as the banks eroded or during high water, making every river trip dangerous.
    In the heyday of the riverboat, pilots were the heroes and celebrities of river commerce. They faced shipboard explosions and fires as well as snags, ice, shifting channels, and all the other obstacles of a changing river. A journey’s success, the ship owners’ fortunes, and the lives of the passengers rested on how well pilots read the river. Steamboat pilots learned from experience, and the nation’s western rivers were strict, fickle teachers. Knowing the channel wasn’t nearly enough. The required learning included the locations of snags, rocks, sandbars, and landmarks, the depth of the water, and the strength of the current.
    As soon as they learned these vital facts, some changed. From the feel of the boat, the color of the water, and ripples and swirls, they had to deduce new information about what lay ahead. They put this knowledge to use day and night, in all kinds of weather, and in all seasons. Obviously, this was not a river to be sailed by inexperienced novices, who knew nothing about the river or its many intricacies, even after it was dredged and deepened.
   On the other hand, the St. Lawrence had different problems. It was filled with tiny islands, with four major archipelagos within the river itself. No one ever considered the river a pathway from the Atlantic clear to the Great Lakes before the Lachine Rapids were circumvented with a canal around them, and even then, no ship could reach Lake Ontario until a series of two U.S.(Wiley-Dondero Canal, and 5 Canadian locks (South Shore Canal, Beauharnois Canal, Iroquois Canal) were built, to raise a ship 265 feet (equivalent of a 26 story building) from the river to Lake Ontario; then, to move from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, a series of eight locks were built to raise a vessel 326 feet more (equivalent of a 32 story building). Together, these 15 locks make up the world’s most spectacular lift system, which lifts ships 591 feet, as high as a 59-story building.
    For anyone, especially one who claims to be writing about the Book of Mormon, to make a claim that Lehi’s ship could have made its way up the equivalent of the height of a 59-story building, from river to lake and from lake to lake, in order to arrive at Lake Erie, is ludicrous and beyond any believability. 
(See the next post, “Pathway to the Heartland and Great Lakes Landing Sites – the Ohio and St Lawrence Rivers– Part VI,” for more on what it took to make the Mississippi and inland waterways navigable for anything other than flat-bottomed, shallow-draft boats)


  1. A the time the Jaredites left the old world the entire stretch of the St Lawrence river would have been block by mile high glaciers during the ice age. Hard to argue with anybody about this since few believe in Noah's flood and a young earth. Particularly those who were taught the propaganda at BYU and other state schools.

  2. That is sadly true. Once something gets into the public conscience, it is hard to root it out. Early missionaries found that out in places like Denmark that was 99.9% catholic and extremely defensive about it, etc.

  3. Have you two ever considered the arguments that place the flood around 3000 BC?

    Masoretic Text vs. Original Hebrew

    Denmark is only 1% Catholic today. Did you not mean it was 99% Lutheran? Their version of the Lutheran faith is the largest faith there today.

  4. erichard, interesting video. I had not heard this argument before but it makes sense. However there are some problems that need to be resolved. The Joseph Smith translation of Genesis 14:25-40 says that Melchizedek was ordained an high priest...and he blessed Abram. The only way to resolve it if the video is accurate is Melchizedek does not equal Shem. Joseph Smith said Shem=Melchizedek. So did Joseph Smith simply assume they were the same? I always like to look for confirmation in actual scripture and it isn't anywhere that I can find definitively that Shem=Melchizedek.

    The video makes a good argument however and even provides a motive for why the text would have been altered. Something to consider. I don't think the issue can be resolved for me anyway.

    Very interesting - thanks.

  5. erichard: Yes. Lutheran. I had some friends who spent their missions there and their stories of the resistance to variant ideas was remarkable.

  6. erichard. Arguments about dating of earth's building blocks, or ancient man-made items upon those building blocks, such as the pyramids, are still man's thinking based upon how dating of rocks and living things are calculated by scientific methods. We have spent a great deal of time and effort in numerous articles to show why those dates are inaccurate, based upon erroneous measurement techniques or evaluation of those findings. We even wrote a book about all these fallacious findings. That is why the biblical dating dictated to Moses by the Lord has far more validity. And despite all the effort put out by rabbinical scholars, few such schools of thought agree with one another, often arguing with each other's findings. Man is still incapable of being completely accurate on dates of events where no biblical support is found, and even biblical dating in the rabbinical schools are at odds with one another. It is going to be an interesting time when we see what really happened and when in that final cineramic movie in the sky....

    1. There is one scientific dating method capable of revealing very precise dates, sometimes to the exact year. Dendrochronology or tree ring dating hasn't received much attention from the "old Earth" scientists since it currently only reaches back about 10,000 years. But Dendroclimatology has produced some very precise dates for several major historical catastophes that previously were thought only to be myths.

      In light of the very interesting and persuasive video above suggesting the possibility of Noah's flood occuring around 3,000 BC, I took a second look at the Dendrochronology evidence presented in Dean Session's Universal Model Volume II. There is clear Dendroclimatology evidence placing Noah's flood at 2345 BC, but no hint of a flood around 3,000 BC.

      Del, I know you have previously dismissed anything Sessions writes based on his assumption of a comet triggering Noah's flood. But truth is truth no matter where you find it or who presents it. I personally have found more scientific truth in Sessions Universal Model Volume I and Volume II than in all 11 years of my college career. I am excitedly awaiting his Volume III about the Universe, which is more in line with my Physics background.

  7. DeVon: You might want to go back in time and see our writings and evaluation of Dendrochronology or tree ring dating. And yes, truth is truth no matter where you find it, such as in the numerous old testament writings called the apocryphal books. The problem is, in many areas where truth is found, it is often mixed with untruths, or pure assumptions, or even creations as the Lord said of the apocryphal books--in trying to separate the two often leads people astray, which is why we do not have the apocryphal writings in our standard works. For me, personally, the time it takes to weed out the untruth from the truth is often not worth the effort and risk.