Thursday, June 7, 2018

How Important Was the Narrow Pass or Passage? – Part III Great Lakes

Continued from the previous post regarding the importance of the Narrow Neck of Land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward and that of the Narrow Pass or Passage that ran through Mesoamerica. Below we continued with the Narrow Pass or Passage in the North American area and specifically within the Great Lakes of what is now the United States. #1 Mesoamerica was discussed in the previous post, here we cover #2 the Great Lakes claim.
A rough outline of where the Great Lakes and Heartland models claim for the Land of Promise locations in the U.S.

2. Great Lakes as the Land of Promise: There are a growing number of members promoting the Great Lakes as the Land of Promise, such as Delbert W. Curtis, Vernal Holley, Phyllis Carol Olive, W. Vincent Coon, Duane R. Aston, Edwin G. Goble, Wayne N. May, and others, claiming the lakes region is where the Jaredite, Nephite and Lamanite cultures existed.
    Yet, when we look at the scriptural record for support of this general area, we find very little to suggest this was where Lehi landed and the region the Nephites of the Book of Mormon initially occupied. While there is much to the Great Lakes model that could be brought up, we will limit our discussion to the Narrow Neck of Land, and the Narrow Pass or Passage, that Mormon and Moroni spelled out in detail.
     As has been pointed out, Mormon’s narrow neck of land and narrow pass or passage are areas of note because of their importance to the Nephites in maintaining their protection from the Lamanitess and defecting Nephites. The narrow neck limited access into the Land Northward from the Land of Bountiful in the Land Southward. This means they had to limit an enemy’s approach into the Land Northward to a small, restricted area which the Nephites could defend and keep any one from penetrating. As stated earlier, when Moroni sent Teancum to stop Morianton and his followers from reaching the Land Northward, he was able to “head them,” that is cut the off, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the wet and on the east” (Alma 50:34, emphasis added).
    Had this area been very large, like that of the so-called “narrow pass” of the Great Lakes theory, which is about 84 miles across at its widest (entering from the southwest), and 58 miles at its narrowest (exiting in the northeast), with the entrance broken into two totally separate entrances on either side of Lake St. Clair.
Top: Overall location within the Great Lakes region, showing the theorist’s narrow pass; Bottom: The entrance to their Narrow Pass showing easy access (yellow arrows) on both sides of Lake St.Clair between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, not easily defended since it is 84 miles across at its widest and 58 miles wide at its narrowest. In addition, the entire so-called narrow pass could be circumvented by traveling along the dotted lines to the north countries

This area of the narrow pass for the Great Lakes theorists has very limited value in providing the Nephites with the means of blocking entrance beyond into the Land Northward because of its width and two separate points of defense to block as shown by the solid yellow arrows. Also, as the dotted yellow arrows show, the Great Lakes of Erie and Ontario could also be bypassed both to the south, and two routes to the north, totally negating the purpose of their narrow pass.
    It is hard to imagine that the Nephites would have considered this region as a strategic defensive area to keep the Lamanites and defectors from reaching the Land Northward of the Great Lakes theory. Also, it would hardly allow Teancum from cutting off Morianton’s march to the Land Northward since Morianton could have taken any of five routes and Teancum would have had to send five different army contingents into the area to make sure he caught Morianton before he reached the Land Northward—something not even hinted at in the scriptural record, let alone lacking any workable military strategy.
The Great Lake theorists’ (red area) “Narrow Neck of Land.” Note that it runs east and west, not north and south; and that the seas about it are north and south, not east and west. Also the southern portion of the Land Northward, is to the east and west, and also the south, of the Land Southward—nor could the non-navigatable Niagara River and escarpment be crossed by families in large numbers over hundreds of years

Also, in this Great Lakes region, there is no workable narrow neck of land. The theorists claim that such a narrow neck exists in the Niagara Peninsula, a small strip of land running between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario from the U.S. into Canada, along the Niagara Escarpment, which runs east and west and meets the Niagara River, creating the Niagara Falls. The Peninsula itself is separated by the escarpment, with the sandy and fertile soils of the Ontario Plain, a farmland belt on the north side, and a wooded, sloped, escarpment with an abrupt rise of some 30 feet making up the Erie Plain on the other, which is etched deeply by gorges with falls at their heads, quarries of limestone, and bedrock close to the surface, running through marsh areas, including peat bogs.
    While this area looks feasible on a map, the problem is, as anyone who has been in the area and looked around readily knows, the possibility of people crossing from one side to the other of this river on foot or boat in 100 B.C. are non-existent.
    Yet, the scriptural record tells us that thousands upon thousands of people migrated from the Land Southward into the Land Northward through a narrow neck, including both the entire Lamanite and Nephite armies in the final battles that began after the treaty in 350 A.D. There is no way anyone seeing this Niagara Peninsula could imagine such a single event of families crossing in such numbers, let alone continual movement through this area between Erie and Ontario.
    As an example, Lake Erie, which is primarily fed by the Detroit River from Lake Huron (which is connected to Lake Michigan by the Straits of Mackinac) and Lake St. Clair, drains via the Niagara River and Falls into Lake Ontario. In order for any boat to reach Lake Erie from Lake Ontario anciently, they would have had to portage their vessel around the Niagara Falls on foot (a direct height of 194 feet; but 325 feet difference overall between the elevations of the two lakes—Ontario 246-feet, Erie 571-feet). In the modern era, this was accomplished by a portage road between Chippawa, and Queenston, in Ontario, until 1829 when a canal bypass was built called the Welland Canal. This waterway in Canada runs between 8 and 12 miles west of the Niagara River and Falls, requires 8 locks to raise current shipping from one lake level to the other).
    In addition, these Great Lake theorists claim that the “narrow pass” described in the scriptural record might also be within the entrance to this Peninsula, just south of the Grand Island in the Niagara River, along the Onondago Escarpment across the Tonawanda Plains.
Great Lakes theorists’ narrow pass is claimed to be a passage through the (red circle) slender Onondaga Escarpment. This so-called pass does not lead into their Land Northward or into their Narrow Neck of Land as the map shows, but through the escarpment on the east side of Niagara River

To understand this escarpment pass, an escarpment is an effect of faulting or erosion and separates two relatively level areas having differing elevations. It is the steep side of a hill or ridge with a gentle slope on one side and steep slope on the other; in geology, the term specifically applies to a ridge where a harder sedimentary rock overlies a softer layer, the whole being tilted somewhat from the horizontal. This results in a long and gentle backslope called a dip slope that conforms with the dip of resistant strata, called caprock.
Where erosion has exposed the frontslope of this, a steep slope or escarpmernt occurs.
    However, the Onondaga Limestone is a group of hard limestones and dolostones of ancient age that form an important geographic feature in some areas in which it outcrops, though smaller than the much larger Niagara Escarpment to the north. It is especially lower and less significant in its southern Ontario portion, the formation is even less prominent as a local surface feature as it moves westward where the theorists’ so-called “narrow pass” is placed.
The Niagara Peninsula, a stretch of land between Lake Ontario to the north and Lake Erie to the south, which the Great Lake theorists claim is their “Narrow Neck of Land.” However, there is simply no reason to place a “Narrow Pass or Passage” through the eastern entrance to this peninsula as theorists also claim

So why is a Pass needed here?
    The interesting thing is, that just east of Buffalo around Amherst, the Onandaga Escarpment is barely noticeable and does not rise much to be seen until east of Amherst, though it is considered to separate the Huron Plain from the Erie Plain. It is poorly defined at Buffalo, and barely noticeable at Amherst 15 miles to the east—in fact, from Amherst to Lake Erie, the escarpment is nearly level, which is where the theorists have their “narrow pass,” in an area where it would not be needed. East of Amherst, the escarpment rises to 100-feet at Akron 25 miles east of Buffalo. Also, as it nears Rochester, its surface is lower, emerging gradually east of the Genesee River into the Ontario Plain, owing to the dying out of the Niagara escarpment. From Auburn eastward, the Portage escarpment merges into the Onondaga escarpment, which in turn merges into the Helderberg escarpment near the Catskill Plateau eleven miles east of wet of Albany.
    The Erie Plain, which originates near Buffalo, extends clear to Auburn where it merges into the Onondaga escarpment. In fact, Lake Erie itself is a shallow lake and its bed may be regarded as a broad depression in the surface of the plain rather than as a distinct lowland—and the Erie Plain is generally flat, lying along the south shore of Lake Erie and extending eastward to the Genesee River, beyond which it is even less distinct. Also, the Niagara escarpment through to the Niagara River is nearly level except for a few irregularities due to glacial deposit; it is even lower near Rochester and merges gradually into the Ontario Plain east of the Genesee River.
    The point is, that in reality, there is little reason to consider a “narrow pass” or pass of any kind in this area to facilitate movement from the southern area around Lake Erie through the so-called “Narrow Neck of Land” of the Niagara Peninsula into Canada and the lands to the north as several theorists claim.
(See the next post regarding “How Important Was the Narrow Pass or Passage? Part IV Heartland”)


  1. I've asked some who believe in this theory why does the BOM not mention the (Niagara) falls. Here is the greatest falls in the world and not a mention of it.

    You would think that the Nephite would have said something like: "And we did toss the dead over the falls and it was really cool watching them go over the edge." If they had said something like this I would think that they have something. To totally ignore this great wonder of the world even though the BOM is an abridgment really does beg the question.

  2. This is especially true when we consider that their narrow passage is within walking distance of the Falls (and the Falls are very noisy around there even today with all the ambient noise). Also, the idea of a city being built there at their pass almost on top of the Falls, seems like some mention might have been made, such as: "And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders BY THE FALLS AND by the narrow pass which led into the land southward"

  3. ...or something like: "And there we did place our armies BETWEEN THE NARROW PASSAGE AND THE FALLS, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force" (MORMON 3:5-6).

    1. That's even better! Nevertheless, the greatest falls in the world isn't mentioned.

      Another thing that would be fun to have them explain is if Hagoth's ships sailed north from the narrow neck, they would slam into the shore in about 25 miles. Kind of a bummer for building such a large ship.

    2. The ship could go about 200 miles towards the East. But again that is not much of a distance to then say those people were never heard of again.