A NEW MODEL FOR
BOOK OF MORMON GEOGRAPHY
By James Lee Warr
Land of Bountiful
Criteria for the land of Bountiful.
It joined the land Desolation to the north at the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:29).
The "narrow pass" feature was apparently located at the border of Bountiful with the land of Desolation (Alma 52:9).
It was a day and a half journey (probably on foot) across the narrow neck on the border of Bountiful with Desolation (Alma 22:32).
The land of Bountiful was a wilderness filled with all manner of wild beasts (Alma 22:31).
It extended from the east sea to the west sea (Alma 22:33).
The land Jershon bordered the land of Bountiful to the south, along the shore of the east sea (Alma 22:22)
The cities of Mulek, Gid, Omner, Morianton, Lehi and Nephihah (in that order) were located on the seashore southward from the border of the land Bountiful (Alma 51:26).
There was a temple in the land of Bountiful (not the city Bountiful) (3Ne. 11:1).
In the account of the rebellion of Morianton, the impression is that Teancum's army had to travel some distance (perhaps even days) from some part of the land Bountiful to catch him at the narrow neck (Alma 50).
I believe that the land of Bountiful was located in northern Costa Rica and included the south side of the San Juan River Basin (including the plains of Tortuguero, San Carlos, and Guatuzos). It would have extended from the Caribbean, west to the Pacific, and south to the slopes of the cordillera (the Guanacaste, Tileran, and Central mountain ranges). It would have extended northward to the shore of Lake Nicaragua and westward to the base of the Isthmus of Rivas, where it joined the land of Desolation to the north. The city of Bountiful probably would have been located somewhere between the modern cities of Guapiles and Guacimo which lie northeastward across the mountains from the capitol San Jose. There is an ancient site about 25 miles to the northwest, on the Rio Toro, named Chaparron (7), which dates back to the Book of Mormon period and which could be the site of the city of Bountiful although it seems too far inland to meet the criteria.
Of all the proposals, this one seems to be the most problematic. The land area appears to be too large, and the City of Bountiful does not fit harmoniously into the geography as do the other locations. It seems that the city should be closer to the narrow neck than the area I have proposed, yet not too far from the east sea. However, the account of the rebellion of Morianton might indicate otherwise (Alma 50). This rebellion begins in the commencement of the twenty fourth year of the Reign of the Judges and is not resolved until the end of that year. Morianton and his people flee from the land of Morianton (which was on the southeast of the land of Bountiful near the east sea) toward the narrow neck, intending to escape into the land northward. Teancum pursues them (apparently departing from the city of Bountiful) with an army (and it should be noted that the army took their "camp" implying an extended trip). They were not able to catch the Moriantonites until they had reached the narrow neck, and the implication is that it took them some time (not just a day or two). Morianton is killed in the ensuing battle, and the captured Moriantonites are returned to Bountiful. This incident apparently covered a full year, and the chase probably took at least a week or two. Perhaps the land of Bountiful is larger than I first thought. It is also possible that the eastern seashore was farther inland at that time. Much of the present Tortuga area at the mouth of the San Juan River is composed of marshes and wetlands. If these areas were all under water during Nephite times, the coastline would extend inward another fifty miles. This is entirely possible due to the heavy alluviation (silting) which has occurred in the San Juan basin and delta due to the heavy deposits of volcanic ash which have fallen over the last 2000 years.