Friday, December 22, 2017

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

Continued from the last post, regarding the rivers that theorists claim Lehi sailed up, to land either in the Nauvoo-Zarahemla area of the Heartland, or along Lake Erie (West Sea) of the Great Lakes, including the use of flat-bottomed boats that because of their extreme shallow draft, were the only boats that could move along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers prior to the dredging and deepening of the inner waterway system in North America and the building of numerous interconnecting canals, locks and dams. All of this showed that there was no possibility of any vessel sailing up the Mississippi River in 600 B.C., or along the country’s inland waterway system.
Top: The Erie Canal was dug straight across level ground until it reached (Bottom) the Appalachian Mountains, a series of hills that rivers and waterways did not flow over. A deep trench canal was dug thorugh one of the openings in the range

    Passengers and freight had to travel overland, a journey made more difficult by the rough condition of the roads. In 1800, it typically took 2 ½ weeks to travel overland from New York to Cleveland, Ohio, a distance of 460 miles; and four weeks to reach Detroit, 612 miles.
To compound the problem, the principal exportable product of the Ohio Valley was grain, which was a high-volume, low-priced commodity, bolstered by supplies from the coast. 
    To ship grain overland, taking weeks to reach coastal ports, was both expensive and not cost effective due to the competitive market and nominal low prices of grain, that could also be produced in the coastal lands.
Obviously, it was not often worth the cost for inland farmers transporting their grain to far-away population centers. This was a factor leading to farmers in the west turning their grains into whiskey for easier transport and higher sales.
    In the 18th and early 19th centuries, it became clear to coastal residents that the city or state that succeeded in developing a cheap, reliable route to the West would enjoy economic success, and the port at the seaward end of such a route would see business greatly increase.
    This led to the devising of projects, especially in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania that led to the digging of canals and dredging and deepening inland waterways to allow for boats to move on the rivers with bulk cargo.
    The Mohawk and Hudson valleys, which form the only cut across the Appalachians north of Alabama, provided an almost complete water route from New York City and points further south to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie in the west. Along its course and from these lakes, other Great Lakes, and to a lesser degree, related rivers, a large part of the continent's interior (and many settlements) would be made well connected to the Eastern seaboard.
    The problem was that the land rises about 600 feet from the Hudson to Lake Erie. Locks at the time could handle up to 12 feet of vertical lift, so even with the heftiest cutting and viaducts, fifty locks would be required along an anticipated 365-mile canal from the coast to the Great Lakes. Such a canal would be expensive to build even today with modern technology; in 1800, the expense was barely imaginable.
    Beginning in the 1780s, various plans were proposed to improve navigation on the Mohawk River, and in 1792, the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company was incorporated by the state of New York and given the rights to improve navigation on rivers and lakes west of Albany. Under the leadership of Philip Schuyler, a major in the provincial army and Major General in the Continental Army, political leader and member of the Continental Congress, the company focused most of its activity on the Mohawk River, clearing the riverbed and digging several short canals to bypass river rapids. Although the company achieved some success in making improvements to the river, it never had the financial resources to tackle the larger navigation obstacles in the river.
    In 1805, Jesse Hawley, a flour merchant in Geneva, New York, became an early and major proponent of building the Erie Canal. At the time, Hawley collected wheat in Geneva and had it milled in Seneca Falls. His investments were based on the hopes that the General Schuyler’s Western Inland lock Navigation Company would continue its river improvements to Seneca Falls, which would reduce Hawley's costs of shipping the flour to the cities on the Atlantic and make it possible for him to make a profit.
    Unfortunately for Hawley, the Western Company halted progress on continued improvements to the rivers after Schuyler's death in 1804. Struggling to receive shipments and make deliveries over the wretched roadways of the era, Hawley saw the need for a Canal from the coastal area to Lake Erie. However, his difficulties in securing reasonably priced transportation drove him in 1806 to debtor’s prison for twenty months. While in prison, writing under the name "Hercules," he published fourteen essays on the idea of the canal from the Hudson River to Lake Erie, which appeared in the Genesee Messenger.
    In January of 1809, Joshua Forman and William Kirkpatrick visited Thomas Jefferson in Washington to discuss the Erie Canal project with him. However, Jefferson called the project "a little short of madness" and rejected it. At this time, Hawley interested New York Governor DeWitt Clinton in the project of digging such a canal. There was much political opposition, and the project was ridiculed as "Clinton's folly" and "Clinton's ditch," but in 1817, Clinton received approval from the New York Legislature for $7 million for construction of the canal.
    The original canal was 363 miles long, from Albany on the Hudson to Buffalo on Lake Erie. The channel was cut 40 feet wide and 4 deep, with removed soil piled on the downhill side to form a walkway known as a towpath (along which mules and horses would move, pulling boats along the canal).
    The construction of the canal through limestone and mountains, proved a daunting task, but in 1823 construction reached the Niagara Escarpment, necessitating the building of five locks along a three-mile corridor to carry the canal over the escarpment. To move earth, animals pulled a "slip scraper" (similar to a bulldozer). The sides of the canal were lined with stone set in clay, and the bottom was also lined with clay. The stonework required hundreds of German masons, who later built many of New York's buildings. All labor on the canal depended upon human (and animal) power or the force of water.
    Engineering techniques developed during its construction included the building of aqueducts to redirect water; one aqueduct was 950 feet long and spanned 800 feet of river. As the canal progressed, the crews and engineers working on the project developed expertise and became a skilled labor force.
    Canal boats up to 3.5 feet in draft were pulled by horses and mules on the towpath. The canal had one towpath, generally on the north side. When canal boats met, the boat with the right of way remained on the towpath side of the canal. The other boat steered toward the berm (or heelpath) side of the canal. The driver (or "hoggee," pronounced HO-gee) of the privileged boat kept his towpath team by the canalside edge of the towpath, while the hoggee of the other boat moved to the outside of the towpath and stopped his team—his towline would be unhitched from the horses, go slack, fall into the water and sink to the bottom, while his boat decelerated on with its remaining momentum. The privileged boat's team would step over the other boat's towline, with their horses pulling the boat over the sunken towline without stopping. Once clear, the other boat's team would continue on its way.
    Pulled by teams of horses, canal boats still moved slowly, but methodically, shrinking time and distance. Efficiently, the nonstop smooth method of transportation cut the travel time between Albany and Buffalo nearly in half, moving by day and by night. Venturing west, men and women boarded packets to visit relatives, or solely for a relaxing excursion. Emigrants took passage on freight boats, camping on deck, or on top of crates. Packet boats, serving passengers exclusively, reached speeds of up to five miles an hour, and ran at much more frequent intervals than the cramped, bumpy stages.
    Packet boats, measuring up to seventy-eight feet in length and fourteen and a half feet across, made ingenious use of space, in order to accommodate up to forty passengers at night and up to three times as many in the daytime. The best and most advances boats were furnished with carpeted floors, stuffed chairs, and mahogany tables stocked with current newspapers and books, which served as sitting rooms during the days. At mealtimes, crews transformed the cabin into dining rooms. Drawing a curtain across the width of the room divided the cabin into ladies' and gentlemen's sleeping quarters in the evening hours. Pull-down tiered beds folded from the walls, and additional cots could be hung from hooks in the ceiling. Some captains hired musicians and held dances for the entertainment of the passengers.
    Thus, the canal had brought civilization into the wilderness. However, their main purpose was to move freight, cargo and people cheaply from the coastal settlements to the interior villages and back. This brought wealth and prosperity to the inland regions and was a boon to growth away from the coastal areas.
    The point here is simply this. Before the Erie Canal was dug, there was no way to get any kind of boats, even flat-bottomed boats, from the Atlantic into the interior of America, especially to the Great Lakes as theorists continually claim in order to support and defend their theories. However, Lehi could not have sailed up any river to the Great Lakes area, nor even to the Heartland area, despite all the ill-informed claims made by such theorists.


  1. We agree totally with your concept of where the Book of Mormon took place. However, the Saint Lawrence river appears to have been navigated to lake Ontario in 1700 BC. There is very strong evidence for this.


    1. erichard, I guess I don't believe anybody sailed that river anciently particularly as far north as the St Lawrence river and Lake Ontario are. According to the ancient chronicles in Europe the ice age lasted about 1,000 years after the flood. That is when British isles opened up. That would mean if it holds true for North America that glacial ice covered lake Ontario until about 1,300bc or 1000 years after the flood.

      Also there would have been an extreme amount of melt water flowing in that river in the early days. It would have been completely un-navigable. There might have been trading in those early days but I don't think it could have been by boat commerce on those rivers.

  2. This site says that the Great Lakes were in the past large bays of the Atlantic ocean.

    History of the Great Lakes

  3. erichard: Regarding your first comment, see the final article on this subject tomorrow.

  4. The articles I linked to show that great lakes were once lower and connected to the Atlantic. But if the lachine falls were there at the time Woden-lithi made the petroglyphs at Petersborough Ontario his ship may have been at the Montreal area.

    Others interpret these petroglyphs somewhat different than Barry Fell, but still agree that they were drawn by Norsemen.

    Petroglyphs Left in Canada by Scandinavians 3,000 Years Ago?

    1. Interesting. I suppose for skilled seamen it might have been possible to make it to Montreal area. But for unskilled seamen using a fixed sail and nothing more would have been an impossibility.

      Some goes for 8 barges that were blown with wind. No sails at all. Would have been impossible for either one of these to make it anywhere near Montreal, let alone Lake Ontario.