Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Land of Promise – Part III: Path of the Glaciers in the Land

Continued from the previous post regarding why we need to understand the writings of the early prophets regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise to better understand the application of the scriptural record today.
    The area of the Great Lakes is the result of glacial action, when the continental ice sheets retreated. During glacial periods, snow accumulates up to thousands of feet thick, with the bottoms turning into ice, which erodes the bedrock as he glacier moves across the land. The continental glacier that covered Canada and most of the Midwest and the northern United States. Up to two miles thick, it was so heavy and powerful it gouged out the earth’s surface to create the lake basins. As the glacier began melting, the sediment it had accumulated from gouging out the ground dropped to the bottom, accumulating in the trough of the earth with the ice melt forming lakes on top of it.
The glaciers that once covered most of North America, including Canada and northern U.S., was widespread 14,000 years ago and extended into Lake Chicago and Lake Maumee as they melted

By 7,000 years ago, these extended lake areas had disappeared and the present area of the lakes was far from filled

By 4,000 years ago, the lakes were as they are seen today, except that Lake Huron was larger ,incorporating Georgian Bay and the islands in between, with Lake St. Clair between Erie and Huron mostly a low swamp area

The point is, long before the Nephite period, these lakes were pretty much as they are seen today, and what is considered by these Theorists as the narrow pass between lakes Michigan and Erie, did not really exist in a form as described by Mormon. As the glacier retreated, it left large ridges and low-lying hills of ground-up rocks and glacial debris,  that formed moraines.
    Once again, a moraine is a mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier, typically as ridges at its edges or extremity. The area between Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, southward from the former and southwest of the latter, is filled with moraines deposited by the southerly glacial movement, and left as low-lying hills throughout this area when the glacier receded.
    The Valparaiso Moraine forms part of the St. Lawrence River Divide, bounding the Great Lake Basin. Water on one side of the moraine flows into Lake Michigan, through the Gret Lakes and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River, while water on the other side flows into tributaries of the Mississippi River, which eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
    It should also be noted that the depth of a glacial lake is determined by the thickness of the ice at the time of glaciation, with the farther north the lobe of ice the thicker it was. Consequently, lakes get more shallow in the southern great lakes region, with Lake Superior at 1333’, Michigan 925’, Huron 725’, Ontario 383’, and Erie 212’.
    Obviously, as the glaciers melted, a number of inland lakes and wetlands resulted. More than 11,000 inland lakes are largely the result of water accumulating in depressions left by passing glaciers. Much of the swamp land of Michigan was drained for agriculture. This accounted for the loss of 50% of Michigan’s wetlands. 
The Valparaiso Moraine north of Valparaiso, Indiana, which formed a large “U” around ancient Lake Michigan. As can be seen, this land could easily have been crossed by an army bent on attack

The area between lakes Michigan and Erie both northward and southward was the path of the glaciers that covered North America. Thus, this land is flat, having been carved out of the earth by the heavy ice, and presents little problem of movement across, both north and south and east and west.
    On the south side of the moraine, where the elevation drops, the meltwaters eroded away valleys, carrying sand and mud with them. As the muddy meltwater reached the valley where the slope lessened, the water slowed down, depositing the sand on the outwash plain. This created a smooth, flat, and sandy plain. Before its draining, the Kankakee Marsh, located on the outwash plain, was one of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States (Kenneth J. Schoon, Calumet Beginnings, Indiana University Press, 2003, p24, emphasis added).
    The largest unit of outwash is along the Kanakakee River, from South Bend to the Illinois border, a 15 to 20-mile wide, which includes the Kankakee Marsh and the surrounding and and gravel plains (Claude A. Malott, Handbook of Indiana Geology, Publication No.21, Department of Conservation, Division of Geology, 1922).
    That this would be the site of the Narrow Pass or Passage Mormon describes is far from factual. Though theorists on this matter like to throw in the ancient lakes, swamps and marshes, it can easily be seen that this area was low and basically level, with streams, creeks and pools left over from the retreating icea, and would not have been a difficult area to pass through by either a Lamanite army or that of a group of defectors.
    Obviously, any waters gathered in this area would have been shallow, creating standing marshes, which for the most part are rarely blockages to an invading army, even for transportation. That it would have been narrowed to 40 miles, let alone 25, is simply foolhardy to believe in light of all the study that has been put into this area and the surrounding lakes drainage basin.
    Portage City in Porter County, thirty-one miles southeast of the Loop, was initially an Indian village and was originally called Twenty Mile Prairie because it was 20 miles from Michigan City. The area of the township had been visited by a succession of Native American tribes and, subsequently, travelers using a stagecoach path linking Detroit and Fort Dearborn. When the Europeans arrived, they settled in areas then called McCool, Crisman and Garyton, which was covered with extensive farms on which they raised milk, livestock, produce and even sand to sell to Chicago buyers.
    Some North American Theorists have postulated that Portage, Indiana, received its name because the early French traders in the area considered this path through Portage as a means to get from one fur trapping waterway to another and carried their canoes overland through the site now called Portage to substantiate their claim to a narrow passage. However, according to the History of Portage Township taken from the History of Porter County Indiana, (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago-New York 1912), the area then referred to as Twenty Mile Prairie, and involving three settlements named McCool (named after a pioneer family), Crisman (named after B.G. Crisman), and Garyton, were incorporated into a single township called Portage, which was named after Portage county, Ohio.
The lands around southern Lake Michigan and the entrance into the Lower Peninsula

In fact, the name Portage was not applied to this area until the incorporation of the city in 1836, long after any fur traders had left the area, which was in 1763 following their defeat in the French Indian wars. By then, the area was filling up with people who were constantly moving westward.
    This township was created by the general order of the board of county commissioners, April 12, 1836, which divided the county into ten civil townships, situated in the northwest corner of the county. It is bounded on the north by Lake Michigan; on the east by the townships of Westchester and Liberty; on the south by Union township, and on the west by Lake county. It is four miles wide from east to west on the northern boundary, and five miles in width on the southern. Its greatest length from north to south is a little over eight miles and its area is about thirty-six square miles. In the northern part are the sand hills common to the shore of Lake Michigan in that region.
    South of the sand hills lies the valley of the Little Calumet river, which contains some swamp lands, and still farther south is a level prairie, with a rich soil, well adapted to agriculture. This prairie is watered by Salt creek and its numerous small tributaries. Large quantities of sand have been shipped from this township to Chicago, and near Crisman there is a fine grained clay that has been used quite extensively for molding, calking boilers, etc. Some bog iron ore has been found, but the deposits are small and have never been developed.
    Before the Europeans arrived, this was the home of the Sauk and Potawatomi Indian tribes, who moved through this area on well-worn trails. The Potawatomi ranged from the Calmuet Dunes on the east of Lake Michigan as far as Detroit and around to the northwest area of the Door Peninsula. When the Europeans arrived, they established stagecoach routes through these Indian lands because of their importance in movement across the Lower Peninsula and around Lake Michigan. The Potawatomi history goes back centuries in which there is no indication of this area being a narrow passage but a wide-open, free-flowing area with rich soil and plenty of game.
    Of course, at one time, this entire area was beneath the ice sheets as the advancing glaciers scooped out large holes across the land that eventually filled with sediment and settling waters as the glacier melted and eventually retreated northward. As far back as they know, this area was the homeland of the Potawatomi, and part of a long-term alliance, called the Council of Three Fires, with the Ojibwe and Odawa (Ottawa). They remained in this area until the 19th century, when the Relocation or Indian Removal program relocated them to Nebraska, Kansas, and Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
(See the next post, “The Land of Promise: An Understand of the Land – Part IV,” for more on why we need to understand the writings of the early prophets regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise to better understand the application of the scriptural record today)

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