Sunday, August 14, 2011

Additional Clues to the Land of Promise Location-Part II Mountains-Topography of the Great Lakes Region-The East Sea

Continuing from the last post on the land some theorists refer to as the Great Lakes Land of Promise, in my recent trip through this area, I was astounded that these theorists claim the Finger Lakes in upstate New York are the East Sea or Sea East referred to in the scriptural record.

First of all, this area as discussed in the previous post, is as “flat as a pancake.” There are no real hills in this area, let alone any mountains, and let alone any mountains “whose height is great,” as seen by Samuel the Lamanite in a vision provided by the Lord and told him by an angel. Not only is this entire area flat, but it is without any lakes large enough to actually be called a “sea” even under the most liberal definition. Nor were these lakes any larger in ages past—but originated as rivers.

The eleven Finger Lakes are actually a pattern of lakes in the west-central section of Upstate New York, and run along the area Great Lakes Theorists claim was the eastern boundary of the Land of Promise, comprising their Sea East. The lakes are long and narrow, each oriented roughly on a north-south axis. The two longest, Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, are among the deepest in America. Both are close to 40 miles from end to end, but never more than 3.5 miles wide (Cayuga Lake) or 3 miles wide (Seneca Lake)—mostly far narrower with Cayuga Lake averaging a mere 1.7 miles in width and Seneca 1.9 miles in width. Cayuga is the longest at 38.1 miles, and Seneca the largest in total area and the deepest at 618 feet, with the bottoms of both around 200 feet below sea level. These largest two lakes resemble the others in shape, which collectively reminded early mapmakers of the fingers of a hand. Oneida Lake, far to the east and a little north, is generally not considered one of the Finger Lakes, but it is sometimes called the “thumb.” To the Western side, the Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, and Otisco lakes are considered the minor Finger Lakes—which would have been within these Theorists’ Land of Zarahemla. Other, smaller lakes, including Silver, Waneta and Lamoka lakes, dot the region.

Satellite Image showing these lakes, with an overlay of Seneca, Cayuga, Conesus, and Oneida shown, along with the cities of Rochester, Syracuse and Ithaca added. The flow of these “lakes” to Lake Ontario is also shown.

Driving through the area referred to as the Land of Zarahemla by the Great Lakes Theorists, and taking Highway 14 along Seneca Lake, and Highway 89 along Cayuga Lake, it was very apparent that these lakes were not lakes at all, but really rivers that had widened over the years and deepened the river flow as they drained northward from the Oswego Watershed. In fact, geologists claim that these so-called “lakes” actually originated as northward flowing rivers, the result of glaciation—and rivers they obviously are, and no amount of rhetoric can turn them into lakes of any dimensions warranting the label “sea.”

While it is interesting that the photos of these lakes shown in most available pictures, are taken up or down the length of the lake, photos are rarely shot across the lake, which makes these look like what they actually are, free moving rivers with Lake Seneca being the south western end of the Seneca River, a 61.6 mile long river running toward the east—part of its course was used for the Erie Canal in the 1820s—with its mouth as the head of the Oswego River which flows northward into Lake Ontario. Lake Cayuga also flows into this Seneca River and into Lake Ontario.

The top photos are across the widest point of Lake Cayuga (my car is shown to give some perspective). Bottom photos are across the typical width of the Cayuga. Both shots show that no one in their right mind would call this narrow waterway a “sea.” Once actually seen, it is impossible for anyone to believe that these narrow lakes (actually rivers despite how they are referred to today), as the Sea East as mentioned in the scriptural record. They are so narrow that any number of Nephites or Lamanites could have floated across in the most primitive canoe or raft—or even swam—let alone keeping the Nephites, who were involved in shipping (Helaman 3:10, 14), contained on the west bank. So why do we not read of any development, city, battles, etc., on the eastern side of this Sea East in the record? After all, they built on both sides of the Sidon River.

Obviously, the Great Lakes Theorists with their grandiose claim of the Finger Lakes being the Nephites’ Sea East simply cannot hold water, nor is it believable by anyone familiar with the scriptural record. Yet, so many people have bought into this theory and, no doubt, have done so without really trying to compare it to the scriptural record and Mormon’s explanation of the geography of the Land of Promise, that the theory has gained some following. Perhaps, to those who have gone along with this theory, they might want to look at Mormon’s description of the Land of Promise instead of just listening to some people who try in vain to make such a radical claim.

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