Sunday, October 28, 2018

Where Theorists Go Wrong – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding the errors theorists make by not understanding the reality of their ideas and beliefs nor in their comparing them against known facts now and of the past. For this reason we have written several times about the Mississippi River in respect to the Heartland and Great Lakes theorists ideas and their models, which almost all show the Mississippi River as the Book of Mormon Sidon River. The simple fact of the matter is that the Mississippi River does not match the descriptive terms given to describe the Sidon River and its location and source, yet this fact—not opinion—seems to have no meaning to theorists who want to place their Land of Promise in the contiguous United States.
    Once again, it should be kept in mind throughout any such discussion that the Mississippi River is an extremely well-known river and area and perhaps the most thoroughly investigated and evaluated river in the world. It is also one of the most managed rivers on record.
The Atchafalaya Channel may well become the Mississippi River if the Corps of Engineers plan fails to save the current course 

As an example, without the intervention of the Corps of Engineers today, the current channel of the Mississippi would slow to a trickle and left to its own devices, would shift west toward the Atchafalaya River channel, which is currently a 137-mile long distributary, a stream that at one time branched off the Mississippi and Red rivers in what is known as bifurcation.
The Mississippi River in its history has had several major course changes, specifically in Louisiana where the sediment buildup has become extensive, creating several deltas along the Gulf 

In fact, the river’s current course has existed for only about eleven hundred years—it is constantly eroding channels in some places and dropping sediment in others, causing its path to wander.
    If we go back in time, there have been three earlier courses dating to the last two millennia BC times and one around 1300 AD, since the Mississippi, like all alluvial (sediment-bearing) rivers, the winds through its valleys, caving banks and topping them in flood times. Occasionally, it cuts across the neck of a sharp loop, begins eroding another bank and gradually forms a new loop. About the 15th century A.D., a westwardly meandering loop of the Mississippi River, later called Turnbull’s Bend, broke into the basin of the Red River and captured the Red. The Mississippi also intersected a small distributary of the Red River which flowed south and later became known as the Atchafalaya Channel, or distributary.
    However, the point of this is to show both that the course of the Mississippi has changed from time to time throughout its history, which courses, up to 20, have been recorded and logged by the engineers who have spent lifetimes working on the studies, evaluations and maps. In all that time, with all the mapped course changes, the history of the river is both extremely well known, and at no time was the river’s depth basically different.
    As an alluvial, sediment-bearing river,  it has remained shallow throughout its history and at no time was it ever considered to be any deeper than it was before the Corps of Engineers dredged, deepened and widened I in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Mississippi drainage Basin, an area of 1.2 million square miles of the 2.95 million square miles of contiguous United States. Note the light colored areas throughout the heartland and around the Great Lakes—this represents low, basically flat land, without mountains, ridges, hills, etc. There are no mountains “whose height is great anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains

The river bed of the Mississippi was initially a low-lying or shallow basin, that filled with water over time as well as continually having sediment from upriver setting along its bottom, especially form the confluence of the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois, and the Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas rivers. This continual deposition of sediment has always keep the Mississippi River quite shallow until modern times when the Corps of Engineers is tasked to keep the river open to ship traffic. However, in its days before the Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi was shallow its entire length except where it passed through numerous lakes throughout its course in Minnesota—but once into Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, it was extremely shallow, passing over several rapids, the main one in the Des Moines Rapids between Nauvoo, Illinois and Keokuk, Iowa-Hamilton, Illinois is one of two major rapids on the Mississippi River that limited Steamboat traffic on the river through the early 19th century.
    Various attempts to make the river navigable started in 1837 when a channel was blasted through the rapids by the U.S. Army corps of Engineers team, led by Robert E. Lee, and 40 years later, a canal around the rapids was built, which has since been obliterated by the building of Lock and Dam No. 19. These rapids were eleven miles long, extending from the mouth of the Des Moines river northward, past Keokuk, Iowa to Montrose. The interesting thing about these rapids is that no one observing the calm water flowing through this eleven mile area would have known there was such danger lurking just inches beneath the surface. In fact, the fall of the river through this eleven miles is only 22-feet, or one foot every half mile. The bluffs on each side of the river were contiguous to the shore line, and varied from one hundred to two hundred and fifty feet above the water.
    Through here, the river bottom was a broad, smooth rock, seamed by a narrow, crooked channel, or, in some places, several of them, alternately widening and narrowing, shoaling and deepening; nowhere good navigation. The rapids, therefore, were not broken and noisy, but, the decent being gradual, the water flows over its bed in a broad, smooth, unbroken sheet, with nothing but the faintest ripple on its surface to indicate the dangerous places (Lt. J. E. Griffith, U.S. Corps of Engineers, Asst to General Wilson, “The Des Moines Rapids of the Mississippi River, and Its Improvements,” The Annals of Iowa, vol.1870, no.2, State Historical Society of Iowa, 1870, pp149-150).
450 miles south of the present site of Nauvoo in Illinois, and across from the old township of Zarahemla, Iowa, a small peninsula now known as Mud Island, and much earlier as “City Island,” jutted out into the river along the shore of present day Memphis, Tennessee, blocking river traffic. Before the Corps of Engineers dug up and cut away half of the western side of the peninsula, the river was quite narrow with silt, sand and gravel continually forming along the bottom and river, creating sandbars that were enhanced over time by flooding, causing the area to continue growing, resulting in the forming of small to large islands in the narrowing river, and infringing the water depth and movement up and down the river (Beverly G. Bond and Janann Sherman, Memphis: In Black & White, Arcadia Publishing, Memphis, 2003, p160). Obviously, the Corps, needing a place to dump the mud, they conveniently placed it on top of the remaining island, effectively raising the island’s height so it permanently sat above flood stage, as it does today.
    Additionally, the average width through this area is 4,500 feet (about 85 one-hundredths of a mile), the mean depth is 2 and four-tenths feet, and surface velocity is two and eighty-eight hundredths feet per second. Thus, the tortuous, uncertain channel over these rapids precludes the possibility of any craft navigating them in low water. Even if the channel itself was wide and deep, no pilot would dare to undertake to pass them (Ibid, p150).
    For those Heartland or Great Lakes theorists who maintain a belief in Lehi sailing up this river to reach the so-called city of Zarahemla in Iowa, or further northward to the Ohio and on to the Great Lakes region, need to contend with this eleven miles of impossible-to-navigate river that neither Lehi’s ship, nor even a canoe, could have managed to get past, and that does not include the ancient rapids that once kept the Mississippi from being navigable north of Baton Rouge.
(see the next post, "Where Theorists Go Wrong - Part III," for a further understanding of how the history of an area has to support its scriptural descriptions)

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