Joseph’s final word on Book of Mormon geography
Letter VII was explicit and unambiguous: the New York hill where Joseph obtained the plates was the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon. The mile-wide valley to the west of the hill was the location of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites took place. No one who reads Letter VII can be mistaken about this. There is no room for confusion about this point.
Why would Joseph have to say anything more on the topic?
The geography issue is more straightforward than people think. Letter VII is by far the most specific and declarative statement about Book of Mormon geography in existence. Although it was written by Oliver Cowdery, Joseph helped write it and explicitly endorsed it multiple times.
Everything directly attributable to Joseph Smith is consistent with Letter VII and the North American geography. Everything that contradicts Letter VII and the North American geography is not directly attributable to Joseph Smith.
Another way to say it: Those who think Joseph didn’t know where the Book of Mormon took place rely on statements that can’t be directly attributed to him.
I’ll address objections to Letter VII in a separate post. Here, I want to point out that after Letter VII, Joseph wrote or said only three known things about the geography question, all of which are consistent with Letter VII. These are the Matthews interview, the Wentworth letter, and D&C 128. To read more click here
Below is a map about the various Necks, Lines, Passes, Strips and Narrows of Book of Mormon geography. Much of the information is found in the book “Moroni’s America.” It is always up to you the reader to do your own research and form your own conclusions. We present this information so you may begin the process of your own RESEARCH.
1. NARROW PASS: Land between Lake St. Clair and Lake Huron (St. Clair River), and/or Land between Lake St Clair and Lake Erie (Detroit River), and/or E-W pass between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario near Niagara Falls, and/or E-W pass south of Lake Erie and north of the Continental Divide along the Allegheny River near the Narrow Passage.
A. Mormon 3:5 (Near Buffalo, NY)
B. Alma 50:34. (Line Desolation near Lake Michigan and Scioto River)
C. Alma 52:9 (Line Bountiful near Lake Michigan)
2. NARROW PASSAGE: Begins on the south side of Lake Erie at Irving NY, following the Cattaraugus Creek south through Zoar Valley to Cattaraugus, NY. Here the divide cuts through and so you continue at the source of Little Valley Creek ending at Salamanca, NY on the Allegheny River. All land south of the Allegheny is the land south. Irving, NY to Salamanca, NY is a day’s journey for a Nephite of 44 miles. Mormon 2:29
3. NARROW NECK: Lake Michigan lower east side following Lake Michigan’s coast N-S between the St Lawrence Continental Divide and Lake Michigan. Alma 63:5
4. NARROW NECK OF LAND: Lake Erie and Lake Ontario which are the seas that divide the land at Hamilton, OT and Buffalo, NY. Buffalo, NY is the “great city” mentioned in Ether 10:20. In Central America the Isthmus between the Gulf and Pacific is 140 miles and the “land divides the sea”, unlike what Ether says that the “sea divides the land, which is what Lake Erie does.
5. NARROW STRIP OF WILDERNESS: Allegheny River, Ohio River, Mississippi River, and Missouri Rivers. This is the main east-west border between the Nephites and Lamanites from about Adam-Ondi-Ahman to Hill Cumorah. Alma 22:27 These rivers act as a fence with a gate or gap at the Small Neck of Land, which is why the land north and south were each nearly covered by water.
6. SMALL NECK OF LAND: Allegheny, Susquehanna, and Genesee river sources or gaps (Triple Divide) Only 6 miles between each of these 3 river sources due to the 2 Continental Divides crossing at this point. This was an old Iroquois resting and protection point called the Forbidden Path. Alma 22:32
7. LINE BETWEEN/LINE FORTIFIED: Journey for a Nephite from the “Great City” at Buffalo, NY in a line from Buffalo Creek, to the Cazenovia Creek, to Buttermilk Creek. Here the divide separates the creeks at the source of Great Valley Creek which flows to Kill Buck, NY on the Allegheny River. Any land south of the Allegheny is the land south. (66 miles or about a day and a half for a Nephite from Buffalo, NY to Kill Buck NY).
A. Line Fortified Helaman 4:7
B. Line Between Alma 50:11
8. LINE DESOLATION/BOUNTIFUL: From the source of the Scioto River in Ohio, draw a straight line to the tip of Lake Michigan near Michigan City, Indiana. The Scioto River source follows briefly the St. Lawrence Continental Divide which then continues north to Lake Michigan. That divide goes rapidly north by the Narrow Neck until it goes southward around the tip of Lake Michigan. 3 Nephi 3:23