Discovering Book of Mormon Lands

 flowrs cumorah Little does the world at large know that two thousand years ago the Savior appeared to his new world flock in a region not more than 80 miles west of Palmyra, New York where Joseph Smith received revelations which led to the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this last dispensation of time. Not even the latter-day Saints of Joseph’s day were fully aware of the significance of western New York which all the evidence indicates was the actual lands of the ancient Nephite civilization. Because the early Saints were being persecuted and driven from New York to Ohio, then Illinois, and on and on to the Rocky Mountains, they had little time to study the various geographical descriptions provided in that sacred text. Thus, once they were settled, hundreds of ideas were presented as possible locations for Book of Mormon events, with Central America given top priority as the lands of the Book of Mormon because of the fascinating stone ruins discovered in that region. But, were they?

The Book of Mormon is more than a historical record of two ancient civilizations, it is also a record of the visit of Jesus Christ to His New World flock after His death and resurrection. Thus, the ground He walked in the new world is just as sacred as the ground He walked in the old world. It is no wonder so many people keep searching for it. Yet, even if all our efforts prove vain, it is the whisperings of the Holy Ghost that will testify of its truthfulness, not walking the ground the Savior once walked. Even so, the search continues for Book of Mormon lands, for they obviously existed someplace.The first clues to the location of Book of Mormon lands comes from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon where we learn that the Book of Mormon is the stick of Joseph, that portion of Israel whose branches extended “over the wall”(Genesis 49:22), and that the first family carrying Joseph’s seed over the wall was the family of Lehi. Thus, identifying Joseph’s covenant land is imperative in any search for Book of Mormon lands, with enough scriptural evidence pointing unavoidably to America.

But where in the Promised Land of America were Book of Mormon lands?Each of the articles included on this website is designed to bring the focus of Book of Mormon geography back to the lands around Cumorah in the promised land of America. DNA leads in that direction; a reformed form of Egyptian Hieroglyphics found among the northeastern Amerindian tribes leads in that direction. Even the lands around Cumorah lead in that direction, for the western New York landscape matches the geographical descriptions found in the Book of Mormon perfectly.

Relics of some lost race were found with nearly every turn of the spade in upper New York during the early years of colonization. Thus, it was 247-Joseph_Smith_Preaching_to_Lamanitescommonly accepted by scholars and laymen alike, and even by the early Saints that an ancient civilization once occupied the area long before the Indians became lords of the land. Yet it is the Indians who hold the secrets relevant to the lost lands of the Book of Mormon. In the introduction of the Book of Mormon we read: “The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterwards separated into two nations, one known as the Nephites, and the other the Lamanites. . . after a thousand years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principle ancestors of the American Indians.”

Unfortunately, the Saints were not too interested in the Indians of their day, supposing them to be too wild and uncivilized to be Lehi’s descendants. Nor were the earth works found in the area thought grand enough to be those left by the Nephites. Thus, the Saints began to look elsewhere for the lands of Book of Mormon, which led the noted intellectual and LDS archaeologist, Hugh Nibley, to say:

Blinded by the gold of the pharaohs and the mighty ruins of Babylon, Book of Mormon students have declared themselves “not interested” in the drab and common place remains of our lowly Indians. But in all the Book of Mormon we look in vain for anything that promises majestic ruins. (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon. Melchizedek Priesthood manual, 1957, app. sec. titled A “Looking for the wrong things”).

As the Saints moved further and further away from New York during their years of exile, the memory of Cumorah soon faded from their minds. Even so, the questions about where Book of Mormon activity took place was never far from their thoughts which prompted the rise of a number of theories about where it all may have taken place. Unfortunately, some of the landmarks mentioned in the scriptures could not be readily identified at that early point in history. In fact, little effort was given the study of Book of Mormon geography during the years the Saints were being persecuted and driven from place to place and ultimately to the Rocky Mountains.king-benjamin-addresses-people-39650-gallery Because the few maps available made it clear that North America was connected to South America by much narrower neck of land, the entire hemisphere was thought to be Book of Mormon territory for a time, with all the native tribes of the Americas thought to be Lamanites. However, as more and more attention began to be given the scriptures it became pretty obvious that the hemispheric model had to be pared down, for people of the ancient world simply did not have the means or inclination to travel over such extensive territories unless migrating. The Book of Mormon describes movement from one city to the next taking in just a day or two. In fact, when King Benjamin called all the people of Zarahemla together to announce that his son Mosiah would succeed him to the throne, they gathered in just one day, for he taught them on the “morrow.” Such incidents make it all too obvious that they did not gather together across hundreds of miles as required in the hemispheric model, or even the new Heartland model of Book of Mormon events. This was a very limited area, one small enough that armies could march from city to city in just a day or two to help defend a neighbor’s city, or help build or repair a town destroyed by the Lamanites, an area which matches the Near Cumorah Setting of western New York.

As each new theory arises we gain fresh hope of acquiring additional insights into the location of Book of Mormon lands, but all too often we are disappointed. Perhaps the time has come to concentrate more heavily on those lands surrounding the only known landmark we have of the Book of Mormon, the Hill Cumorah in New York State, the very place the record of the Nephites were deposited by Moroni, the last Nephite prophet to walk the land after the destruction of his people.

Of additional importance is the fact that not only were the golden plates of the Nephites retrieved from New York’s Hill Cumorah, but the entire Nephite library according the Brigham Young who recounted the event of when Joseph Smith and Oliver entered the cave to the Saints in Utah. Can we suppose that many wagon loads of plates were transported over thousands of miles from Mexico or Central America to the Hill Cumorah in New York State where Joseph and Oliver then saw them? Reason would suggest no! Moreover, Joseph Smith acknowledged the Hill Cumorah in New York State to be the very same hill Cumorah spoken of in the scriptures. (See our sister website or more information on this subject.) http://bookofmormonlandsnearcumorah.

Joseph Fielding Smith said:

. . . the Prophet Joseph Smith himself is on record, definitely declaring the present hill called Cumorah to be the exact hill spoken of in the Book of Mormon. Further, the fact that all of his associates from the beginning down have spoken of it as the identical hill where Mormon and Moroni hid the records, must carry some weight. It is difficult for a reasonable person to believe that such men as Oliver Cowdery, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, David Whitmer, and many others, could speak frequently of the spot where the Prophet Joseph Smith obtained the plates as the Hill Cumorah, and not be corrected by the Prophet if that were not the fact. That they did speak of this hill in the days of the Prophet in this definite manner is an established record of history. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, pp. 233-234.)

Watch the following video and see if you don’t agree. Follow the Jaredites, Mulekites, and Nephites from their entrance into the Promised Land to their ultimate doom around the Hill Ramah/Cumorah. and note just how perfectly the western New York setting fits the geographical setting described in the Book of Mormon. Moreover, the complicated references to a narrow neck of land and a narrow pass can also finally be resolved, as can the identity of the sea that divided the land and other landmarks noted in the Book of Mormon. In fact, so many things fit together so perfectly that one cannot help but wonder if Book of Mormon lands have not been found at last, a region not more than 80 miles from the Hill Cumorah itself, the only known landmark we have of that ancient time in history.


Each of the web pages on this site adds more validation that the saga played out in the Book of Mormon took place in the regions around Cumorah. For additional information visit our sister website where topics such as what the Brethren say about the Hill Cumorah, The Hill Cumorah’s Cave of Records, Mormon’s map & the siege of the Gadianton Robbers, and other topics of interest.

© Phyllis C. Olive

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