The following is a good description of the Land Northward (not to be confused with the Nephite land northward – Alma 22:29):
3 And it came to pass in the forty and sixth year there was much contention and many dissensions; in the which there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land.
4 And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came to large bodies of water and many rivers.
5 Yea, and even they did spread forth into all parts of the land, into whatever parts it had not been rendered desolate and without timber, because of the many inhabitants who had before inherited the land.
6 And now no part of the land was desolate, save it were for timber; but because of the greatness of the destruction of the people who had before inhabited the land it was called desolate.
7 And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly expert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.
8 And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.
9 And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents, and in houses of cement, and they did suffer whatsoever tree should spring up upon the face of the land that it should grow up, that in time they might have timber to build their houses, yea, their cities, and their temples, and their synagogues, and their sanctuaries, and all manner of their buildings.
10 And it came to pass as timber was exceedingly scarce in the land northward, they did send forth much by the way of shipping.
11 And thus they did enable the people in the land northward that they might build many cities, both of wood and of cement.
12 And it came to pass that there were many of the people of Ammon, who were Lamanites by birth, did also go forth into this land.
13 And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them. (Helaman 3:3-13)
In verse four, it describes “large bodies of water” – which were the seas; and “many rivers.” The Sea North was of course Lake Ontario. The Sea West – Lake Erie extending through the Niagara Gorge. The Sea South is ancient Lake Tonawanda, and the Sea East is the Genesee River/Gorge.
If you travel east across this land from the Niagara Gorge, you will notice this land is elevated above Lake Ontario with a slight downward tilt toward the lake. The view is continually spectacular. The land is flat for over half of its expanse and is fed by multiple streams and rivers that provide its inhabitants with a natural, gravity fed, irrigation system. All of which was great for farming.
Today, much of the land is covered with vineyards, fruit trees, corn and wheat fields, just as it was back then. It is no wonder the Nephites did all that they could to protect this land. Mature vineyards and orchards take time to establish, and once established, they can easily produce food for years.
In fact, the scriptures say that the first inhabitants – the Jaredites – did till the soil right away:
13 And it came to pass that they went forth upon the face of the land, and began to till the earth.
18 And it came to pass that they began to spread upon the face of the land, and to multiply and to till the earth; and they did wax strong in the land. (Ether 6:13,18)
Later on it says that they preserved the Land Southward for hunting:
19 And it came to pass that Lib also did that which was good in the sight of the Lord. And in the days of Lib the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest. And Lib also himself became a great hunter.
20 And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land.
21 And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants.
25 And they did make all manner of tools to till the earth, both to plow and to sow, to reap and to hoe, and also to thrash.
26 And they did make all manner of tools with which they did work their beasts. (Ether 10:19-26)
We should note that they inhabited the western part of the Land Northward which was bordered by the West Sea, or current day Lake Erie & Niagara Gorge along which the Narrow Neck ran. This is important for understanding which direction their battles took place -> eastward and northward.
It says they had not time to bury their dead and the stench drove them further and further eastward:
21 And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.
22 And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.
23 And the scent thereof went forth upon the face of the land, even upon all the face of the land; wherefore the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof. (Ether 14:21-23)
The furthest point they could have fought on the east was the Genesee Gorge (East Sea); and on the north Lake Ontario (Waters of Ripliancum). From there it says they battled southward to the place where the prophet Ether was hiding – Ramah:
8 And it came to pass that he came to the waters of Ripliancum, which, by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all; wherefore, when they came to these waters they pitched their tents; and Shiz also pitched his tents near unto them; and therefore on the morrow they did come to battle.
9 And it came to pass that they fought an exceedingly sore battle, in which Coriantumr was wounded again, and he fainted with the loss of blood.
10 And it came to pass that the armies of Coriantumr did press upon the armies of Shiz that they beat them, that they caused them to flee before them; and they did flee southward, and did pitch their tents in a place which was called Ogath.
11 And it came to pass that the army of Coriantumr did pitch their tents by the hill Ramah and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred.
12 And it came to pass that they did gather together all the people upon all the face of the land, who had not been slain, save it was Ether.
13 And it came to pass that Ether did behold all the doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for Coriantumr were gathered together to the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz were gathered together to the army of Shiz. (Ether 15:8-13)
RAMAH NOT CUMORAH
A common misunderstanding among Book of Mormon enthusiasts is that the final Jaredite battle occurred at the Hill Cumorah, or “where my father Mormon did hide up the records.” (Verse 11 above.) That’s not what it says. Mormon identified the hill (Verse 11) as “Ramah,” and if it was the “Hill Cumorah“, he would have said so. The same holds true for the account of Omer:
Omer departed out of the land with his family and traveled many days and came over and passed by the hill of Shim and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed and from thence eastward and came to a place which was called Ablom (Ether 9:3)
Note, he did not say “where the Jaredites were destroyed,” nor did he refer to it as “Ramah.” This was the second opportunity for Moroni to identify it as Ramah; plus every time the word “Cumorah” was used, and yet the word “Ramah” only occurs once!
They fail to understand that Mormon only hid the records “entrusted to him” at Cumorah, all others where hid at the Hill Ramah, the true place of the Jaredite battle:
6 And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni. (Mormon 6: 6)
12 And it came to pass that there were many of the people of Ammon, who were Lamanites by birth, did also go forth into this land (northward).
13 And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people, which are particular and very large, concerning them.
14 But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work. (Helaman 3)
It is clear we know almost nothing of these people, in the Land Northward, and their records were stored somewhere else – not entrusted to Mormon – in Ramah.
Where Was the Hill Ramah?
If you travel south from Lake Ontario (Sea North) along the Genesse Gorge (West Sea), there is one very prominent hill where Ether could have safely watched undetected – Highland Park in Rochester. It is located on the eastern side of the Genesee River.
Being on the east side of the East Sea, the hill was not used by troops, but was a perfect place for Ether to hide, observe, and to store records. It was also the place where Mormon stored records, and the place where Moroni later found additional plates to write on.
Contrast that with the Hill Cumorah which was used strategically in the Nephite battle; the Hill Ramah was not used strategically in the Jaredite battle!
Therefore, the final Jaredite battle occurred around Rochester not Palmyra.
Local Rochester view:
In one section of the Genesee Valley, just south of Rochester, hardly a knoll is opened without revealing skeletons. (William A. Ritchie, “Culture Influences from Ohio in New York Archaeology,” American Antiquity, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Jan., 1937), pp. 182-194)
Large Land Northward view
Other notable characteristics regarding the Land Northward are: