What is a “mountain” and what is a “hill” are of course subjective terms. Some modelers who lack items of greater value in their models are grabbing at straws when they try to elevate mountains to a greater stature in terms of identifying true Book of Mormon lands. The people who lived through Book of Mormon times had the Brass Plates and were familiar with the terms “mountain” and “hill,” although their individual definitions are not given.
Thus, the two terms are subjective in their use and not a reliable item to judge any particular model by. Nevertheless, to show those desperate modelers who have been clinging to the exceedingly large and numerous steep mountains in their models as if they are the flagship of their model we offer the following reality checks.
When Jesus taught His Sermon on the Mount discourse to a “multitude” of people, it says He was on a “mountain” thus the name of the sermon – “mount” (Mat.5:1). Anyone who has been to the Sea of Galilee knows two things:
a. It is hardly a sea; more of a lake
b. There are no “mountains” surrounding it
Again, these are subjective terms and we are left respecting what the locals thought and called things: i.e. “sea” for a lake, and “mountain” for a hill. It is assumed by some modelers that western New York lacks “mountains” nonetheless, we identified ski resorts in the Land Southward, near the City of Zarahemla that are truly mountains to the locals, and now we are identifying mountains in the Jaredite Land Northward as well.
The following comes from Orsamus Turner’s Pioneer History of the Holland Land Purchase (1850):
But a few of the most prominent of these ancient fortifications, will be noticed, enough only to give the reader who has not had an opportunity of seeing them, a general idea of their structure, and relics which almost uniformly may be found in and about them.
Upon a slope or offset of the MOUNTAIN RIDGE three and a half miles from the village of Lewiston, is a marked spot, that the Tuscarora Indians call Kienuka. (Meaning, a fort, or strong hold, that has a commanding position, or from which there is a fine view.) There is a burial ground, and two eliptic mounds or barrows that have a diameter of 20 feet, and an elevation of from 4 to 5 feet. A mass of detached works, with spaces intervening, seem to have been chosen as a rock citadel; and well chosen, — FOR THE MOUNTAIN FASTNESSES OF SWITZERLAND ARE BUT LITTLE BETTER ADAPTED TO THE PURPOSES OF A LOOK-OUT AND DEFENSE. The sites of habitations are marked by remains of pottery, pipes, and other evidences.
Eight miles east of this, upon one of the most elevated points of the mountain ridge in the town of Cambria, upon the farm until recently owned by Eliakim Hammond, now owned by John Gould, [p. 27] is an ancient fortification and burial place, possessing perhaps as great a degree of interest, and as distinct characteristics as any that have been discovered in Western New York. The author having been one of a party that made a thorough examination of the spot soon after its first discovery in 1823, he is enabled” from memory and some published accounts of his at the time, to state the extent and character of the relics.
The location commands a view of Lake Ontario and the surrounding country. An area of about six acres of level ground appears to have been occupied; fronting which upon a circular verge of the MOUNTAIN, were distinct remains of a wall. Nearly in the centre of the area was a depository of the dead. It was a pit excavated to the depth of four or five feet, filled with human bones, over which were slabs of sand stone. Hundreds seem to have been thrown in promiscuously, of both sexes and all ages. Extreme old age was distinctly identified by toothless jaws, and the complete absorption of the aveola processes; and extreme infancy, by the small skulls and incomplete ossification. Numerous barbs or arrow points were found among the bones, and in the vicinity. One skull retained the arrow that, had pierced it, the aperture it had made on entering being distinctly visible. In the position of the skeletons, there was none of the signs of ordinary Indian burial; but evidences that the bodies were thrown in promiscuously, and at the same time. The conjecture might well be indulged that it had been the theatre of a sanguinary battle, terminating in favor of the assailants, and a general massacre, A thigh bone of unusual length, was preserved for a considerable period by a physician of Lockport, and excited much curiosity. It had been fractured obhquely. In the absence of any surgical skill, or at least any application of it, the bone had strongly reunited, though evidently so as to have left the foot turned out at nearly a right angle. Of course, the natural surfaces of the bone were in contact, and not the fractured surfaces; and yet spurs, or ligaments were thrown out by nature, in its healing process, and so firmly knit and interwoven, as to form, if not a perfect, a firm reunion ! It was by no means a finished piece of surgery, but to all appearances had answered a very good purpose. The medical student will think the patient must have possessed all the fortitude and stoicism of his race, to have kept his fractured limb in a necessary fixed position, during the long months that the healing process must have been going on, in the absence of splints and gum elastic [p. 28] bands. A tree had been cut down growing directly over the mound, upon the stump of which could be counted 230 concentric circles. Remains of rude specimens of earthen ware, pieces of copper, and iron instruments of rude workmanship were ploughed up within the area ; also, charred wood, corn and cobs. (pp. 27-28)
Thus we see that mountains (and hills) do exist where they should be and not where they should not be which cannot be said of any other place but western New York.