Friday, November 11, 2011

Observations from a River Runner

At the 9th annual Lands of the Book of Mormon Conference in Salt Lake City on November 5, 2011, a fellow came up to me right after lunch and asked :

"Do you favor the Usumacinta or the Grijalva?"

"It had to be the Usumacinta. The Grijalva does not fit the criteria specified in the text."

"Good. I completely agree. In the 1960's, I was a guide with Western River Expeditions. All of the really good people wanted to go down to Mexico and run the Grijalva before the dams came in. It was one of the last great untamed rivers in the world, a huge challenge kind of like Mount Everest. A lot of people died trying to be the first to run the Grijalva."

"No one made it through El Sumidero alive until the 1960's when an elite team of Mexican Army Rangers finally ran the river."

"Yes. That's right. There is no way the kind of things being described in The Book of Mormon could have happened on the Grijalva. It was too fast and too dangerous."
See the aritcle "Water Fight on the River - Round Sixteen" in this blog for additional information about the swift current in the Mezcalapa-Grijalva River before 4 modern dams (the first one, Malpaso aka Netzahualcoyotl was completed in 1966) completely changed its character.
Western River Expeditions, a Salt Lake City-based company in the 1960's, had experience in Mesoamerica. Jack Curry, from that company, organized trips down the Usumacinta River in 1963, 1965, and 1969 that allowed Thomas A. Lee from NWAF to explore San Pablo Cave and the site of El Cayo, upstream from Piedras Negras. See Thomas A. Lee, Jr. and Brian Hayden, "San Pablo Cave and El Cayo on the Usumacinta River, Chiapas, Mexico, New World Archaeological Foundation Paper No. 53 (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1988).