Hill Cumorah

Associated Locations:

  • Hill Cumorah, Manchester, New York

Associated Dates:

  • 1879, published
  • October 16, 1990 – First Presidency states Hill Cumorah is in New York

Prophetic witnesses to the location of the Hill Cumorah

First Presidency

In 1990 the office of the First Presidency of the LDS Church stated that Cumorah is in New York:

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The Church has long maintained, as attested to by references in the writings of General Authorities, that the Hill Cumorah in western New York state is the same as referenced in the Book of Mormon. 1

Joseph Smith

Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario county, New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. 2

Joseph Fielding Smith

SPECULATION ABOUT BOOK OF MORMON GEOGRAPHY. Within recent years there has arisen among certain students of the Book of Mormon a theory to the effect that within the period covered by the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were confined almost entirely within the borders of the territory comprising Central America and the southern portion of Mexico—the isthmus of Tehauntepec . . .WHERE IS THE HILL CUMORAH?
LOCALE OF CUMORAH, RAMAH, AND RIPLIANCUM. This modernistic theory of necessity, in order to be consistent, must place the waters of Ripliancum and the Hill Cumorah some place within the restricted territory of Central America, notwithstanding the teachings of the Church to the contrary for upwards of 100 years. Because of this theory some members of the Church have become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon. It is for this reason that evidence is here presented to show that it is not only possible that these places could be located as the Church has held during the past century, but that in very deed such is the case. It is known that the Hill Cumorah where the Nephites were destroyed is the hill where the Jaredites were also destroyed. This hill was known to the Jaredites as Ramah. It was approximately near to the waters of Ripliancum, which the Book of Ether says, “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all.” Mormon adds: “And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.”

EARLY BRETHREN LOCATE CUMORAH IN WESTERN NEW YORK. It must be conceded that this description fits perfectly the land of Cumorah in New York, as it has been known since the visitation of Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for the hill is in the proximity of the Great Lakes and also in the land of many rivers and fountains. Moreover, 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.

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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….

NEPHITE AND JAREDITE WARS IN WESTERN NEW YORK. In the face of this evidence coming from the Prophet Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, we cannot say that the Nephites and Lamanites did not possess the territory of the United States and that the Hill Cumorah is in Central America. Neither can we say that the great struggle which resulted in the destruction of the Nephites took place in Central America. If Zelph, a righteous man, was fighting under a great prophet-general in the last battles between the Nephites and Lamanites; if that great prophet-general was known from the Rocky Mountains to ‘the Hill Cumorah or eastern sea,’ then some of those battles, and evidently the final battles did take place within the borders of what is now the United States….

CUMORAH ONCE SITE OF CARNAGE AND DESTRUCTION. As I stood upon the summit of the Hill Cumorah, in the midst of a vast multitude, only a few of whom belonged to the Church, I tried to picture the scenes of former days. Here were assembled vast armies filled with bitterness and bent on destruction….

IMPORTANCE OF CUMORAH UNKNOWN TO WORLD. . . .”Here it was that Moroni, commanded by the Lord, hid up the sacred records of his people. Here it was. 1,400 years later, that he, then a resurrected being, came to Joseph Smith and committed these same records to the young man’s care. At the time of the Prophet’s first visit to the hill, it was covered with trees; today (1923) it is stripped and bare, save for the grass which grows abundantly. ”  3

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Other Witnesses

James E. Talmage

On the occasion of Moroni’s first visit to Joseph Smith, the angelic visitor declared the existence of the record, which, he said, was engraved on plates of gold, at that time lying buried in the side of a hill near Joseph’s home. The hill, which was known by one division of the ancient peoples as Cumorah, by another as Ramah, is situated near Palmyra in the county of Wayne, State of New York. 4

LeGrand Richards

God led a branch of the house of Joseph to America and commanded them to keep records of all their doings. He then commanded his prophet, Moroni, to hide this sacred record in the Hill Cumorah in the western part of the state of New York, U.S.A. Centuries later he sent Moroni back to deliver the record to Joseph Smith and gave him power to translate it with the assistance of the Urim and Thummim. 5

Bruce R. McConkie

Both the Nephite and Jaredite civilizations fought their final great wars of extinction at and near the Hill Cumorah (or Ramah as the Jaredites termed it), which hill is located between Palmyra and Manchester in the western part of the state of New York. It was here that Moroni hid up the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. (Mormon 6 ; Ether 15 .) Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and many of the early brethren, who were familiar with all the circumstances attending the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in this dispensation, have left us pointed testimony as to the identity and location of Cumorah or Ramah. 6

Lucy Mack Smith

Lucy Mack Smith wrote that Joseph Smith referred to the hill near Palmyra as Cumorah immediately after his visit there.
Stop, father, stop, it was the angel of the Lord. As I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel met me and said that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord:… 7

Two Cumorahs?

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The idea that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central America and a symbolic hill in New York, has been proposed by some Book of Mormon geography students. It has been suggested that the Hill Cumorah in New York is far too small for battles to have occurred on the hill itself. However, no such requirement is made by the text and it was consistently referred to as the “hill Cumorah” rather than the “mountain Cumorah.” The Book of Mormon references mountains and would likely have called it so had its size been sufficient to warrant the term. In any case, the size of the hill does not a strategic location make, as demonstrated by the historical example of the Battle of Gettysburg.  8

I do not believe that there were two Hill Cumorahs, one in Central American and the other one up in New York, for the convenience of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so that the poor boy would not have to walk clear to Central America to get the gold plates.  9

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Notes:

  1. F. Michael Watson, Secretary to the First Presidency, in a letter dated October 16, 1990
  2. Joseph Smith, PofGP, History 1:51
  3. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, Bookcraft, 1956, p.232-43
  4. James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pp. 261
  5. Legrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, pp. 68
  6. McConkie, B. R. (1966). Mormon Doctrine. Bookcraft. 174-175
  7. Lucy Mack Smith, History of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 100
  8. Rod L. Meldrum, Exploring the Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland, pp. 42
  9. Elder Mark E. Petersen, A Work of Conversion, General Conference Address, April 1953

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  1. October 2, 2012

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