Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What Does the Record Tell Us About Hagoth? – Part V

Continuing from the previous post regarding Hagoth and how Mormon’s description of the man, his work, and results have been misunderstood by Mesoamerican, Heartland and other theorist, and misrepresented him in their writing. 
Phyllis Carol Olive’s (white circle) Narrow Neck of Land
In continuing with Phyllis Carol Olive’s comments about Hagoth and the land in which he built his ships and the sea over which his ships sailed, she tries introducing an area that now lies between the Niagara River and Rochester, a distance of 74 miles, 23 miles short of the hill Cumorah, as an ancient lake called Tonawanda, (p187) a sea which she claims Hagoth could have sailed eastward down its length to settle along its shore. However, though this ancient site is about 74 miles long (west to east), it was only two miles wide, and quite shallow, the water along the eastern shore at Rochester, New York was only four feet deep.
    It might be of interest to know that while this lake was only two miles across
    It is important to realize that sailing with or across or against winds makes a huge difference in sailing during the Age of Sail, as well as before that time. As an example, an excellent case in point was the voyage from Alexandria to Rome in a period long after Lehi’s voyage, in which it would take as much as five times as long as the return voyage with the wind (E. H. Warmington, The Commerce Between the Roman Empire and India, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 1928, p51). It should also be kept in mind that: “The same winds prevail today as in the days of the ancients” (Lionel Casson, Speed Under Saiasl of Ancient Ships, vol.82, New York University, New York, 1951, p136-148).
    This is because a sailing vessel travels best under a wind that is blowing from some point abaft the beam, as was Nephi’s ship since it was “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9). This allows the ship to move at its fastest directly toward its destination. Such a wind, whether blowing directly over the stern or over the quarters (i.e., from a point on either side of the stern) is a favorable wind. Unfavorable or "foul" winds are those that blow from some point ahead. These force a vessel to tack—sail at an 80 degree angle to the wind, a procedure that is uncomfortable, wearisome, and slow—as the vessel heels heavily, the decks are forever wet with spray, and the sails are constantly being reset (requiring a large crew with a great deal of experience).
When the destination lies 80º to the right or left of the direction from which the wind is blowing, a vessel can head directly for it. However, if the destination lies 80º or right in the eye of the wind and then the ship must tack back and forth in zigzag fashion. This is the most time-consuming course of all since it forces the vessel actually to cover far more distance than a straight line to its goal would measure, and can more than double the time necessary to reach its intended destination.
    This is also seen when Columbus crossed the Atlantic, he had the current with him and the wind at his back, making for a swift voyage. Later, when he sailed against the winds down to South America, he barely made 1 mph. In the Pre-Age of sail a maximum of 5 miles per hour, would be the highest plausible speed; during the Age of Sail, a Galleon could reach 5-8 miles per hour, and later the Clipper 14-17. In fact, the fasted American Clipper ever recorded was 22 mph.
    Thus, the distance north and south across Lake Ontario, or across Lake Erie, is fairly minimal, and reachable overland at a far less cost, plus the fact that a voyage could encounter. While we might think of the Great Lakes as calm and serene, but on Lake Erie the winds can get so fierce, everything on deck is swept clear. In fact storms have been encountered on all of the Great Lakes, some so devastating many lives have been lost. 11 Storms alone have been recorded on Lake Erie, two on Lake Ontario so fierce that all hands on ships were lost. Many of the ships lost in these storms were metal paddle wheelers—one can only wonder how wooden sailing ships would have fared.
    In addition, Olive suggests that Hagoth’s ships could have sailed the length of the ancient Lake Towanda—however, this ancient lake is really considered to have been a wetlands by the State of New York.
Example of wetlands. Note the lack of a clear waterway in which to sail a vessel of any size, which Olive claims Hagoth could have sailed through

In other words, the area of what is referred to as Lake Tonawanda was anciently a land area, such as marshes or swamps, that were covered often intermittently with shallow water or had soil saturated with moisture (Gerry Rising, “Lake Tonawanda,” Geological History of Amherst State Park, June 27, 2004).
   It might be of interest that in the same article, it states: “Glacial Lake Tonawanda was created with the retreat of the last Wisconsin Glacier. The lake was located east of the Niagara River. It covered the area between most of western New York and Rochester. It might also be of interest to note that in 1829 when Joseph Smith was translating the plates, the word “wetlands” did not exist in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.
    Olive also states (p189) that Hagoth, “once he reached the northern shores of the lake, the crew and passengers may have disembarked, unloaded and then carried their craft over the hills of the escarpment and into the waters of lake Ontario…and from there to more distant lands. Now when Olive compares (p185-186) early trappers portaging their canoes overland, they were carrying light weight, narrow canoes often made of birch bark.
An early French Trapper portaging, or carrying his canoe across land to another river

These canoes, called canot du nord ("canoe of the north"), a craft specially made and adapted for speedy travel, was the workhorse of the fur trade transportation system that could be carried bottom up by two men, with another two men carrying the cargo. They were about one-half the size of the Montreal canoe, and could carry about 35 packs weighing 90 pounds and manned by four to eight men (“Portage Trails in Minnesota 1630s-1870s,” National Register Document, United States Department of the Interior—National Park service, 1992).
    These were hardly a comparison to Hagoth’s “exceedingly large ships” that he built that Olive claims could be portaged across land.
    As has been previously noted, the Mesoamerican guru, John L. Sorenson has written of Hagoth: “What about the LDS tradition that Hagoth, the Nephite shipbuilder who failed to return home as an ancestor to the Polynesians?” He then adds, “The Book of Mormon itself, of course, says only that the man and his mates disappeared from the knowledge of the people in Zarahemla. For all they knew, he might have died at a ripe old age on the west Mexican coast without a suitable vessel in which to make the return voyage” (Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City,1985, p269).
    It is interesting that Sorenson claims the Book of Mormon says that Hagoth sailed away, however, the scriptural record does not say that at all. In fact, we know nothing about Hagoth other than what is contained within the scriptural record that he was a curious man and built an exceedingly large ship, then while it had sailed away, he built other ships before the first ship returned all within only four verses, and not a single suggesting that Hagoth sailed anywhere.
(See the next post, “What Does the Record Tell Us About Hagoth? – Part VI,” regarding this continuing article about Hagoth and the role he played in the Nephite immigration)

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