“How Did the Book of Mormon ‘Golden Plates’ Get to New York?: ‘One Cumorah’ Theory; ‘Two Cumorahs’ Theory; or THIS?”
There are a few theories that I am aware of about how the Book of Mormon plates got from Moroni’s original location to the hill Cumorah in New York, where Joseph Smith found them:
1. The Book of Mormon setting is *in* or nearby New York; and the hill Cumorah that Moroni hid the plates in, is the same as the hill Cumorah that Joseph Smith found the plates in; so, one hill Cumorah.
2. Moroni traveled from Central America (where he was originally) to New York, where he hid them in the hill where Joseph Smith found them; so, one hill Cumorah.
3. The box the plates were buried in was whisked away from the original hill Cumorah to the hill in New York; so, two hill Cumorahs.
4. The Three Nephites carried them from Central America to New York and buried them; so, two hill Cumorahs.
After reading quite a bit of compiled research about this topic, I find that there is nothing in LDS church history that says that the hill Cumorah in New York *is* the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon, or that even implies that; nor is there anything that says the contrary, either. There seemed to have been a whole lot of assumption, misunderstanding, misinterpretation, staunch personal viewpoints parading as doctrine and teachings, complete unquestioning acceptance, hearsay, blind leading the blind, contradictions, and especially illogical and false conclusions on lots of people’s parts (including many church leaders), over the years, for many different possibilities.
I believe #1 and 4 are the most likely of those proposals; yet even then, there seem to be problems. #1 has seeming problems. #2 has the problem that Moroni traveled a very long distance, through all kinds of other peoples; but actually, no huge problem (have you ever heard of “shadow scout”?). But Joseph Smith gives an account of Moroni’s death, saying that he was killed by Indians, or was that Lamanites?; which means he either returned (traveling back 3,000 miles or so) to Lamanite land, which makes me wonder, why?; or, that he was pursued the 3,000 miles by Lamanites who wanted to kill him; hmmm…. Wait! In this reference (I can’t find any other account of Moroni’s death at the moment, sorry), there is mention of “Indians”, but not “Lamanites” in particular, so maybe that would be fine: “At a meeting at Spanish Fork, Utah Co., in the winter of 1896, Brother Higginson stated in my presence that Thomas B. Marsh told him that the Prophet Joseph Smith told him (Thomas B. Marsh, he being then President of the Twelve), that he became very anxious to know something of the fate of Moroni, and in answer to prayer the Lord gave Joseph a vision, in which appeared a wild country and on the scene was Moroni after whom were six Indians in pursuit; he stopped and one of the Indians stepped forward and measured swords with him. Moroni smote him and he fell dead; another Indian advanced and contended with him; this Indian also fell by his sword; a third Indian then stepped forth and met the same fate; a fourth afterwards contended with him, but in the struggle with the fourth, Moroni, being exhausted, was killed. Thus ended the life of Moroni.” -Charles D. Evans, LDS Church Archives, as quoted in H. Donl Peterson, Moroni: Ancient Prophet, Modern Messenger, p. 77
I add a new possibility, which like any of the others, might or might not be true.
In Ether 12, Moroni lists a few miracles that were accomplished by people’s faith:
6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; …
7 For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him; wherefore, it must needs be that some had faith in him, for he showed himself not unto the world.
10 Behold it was by faith that they of old were called after the holy order of God.
11 Wherefore, by faith was the law of Moses given. But in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way; and it is by faith that it hath been fulfilled.
13 Behold, it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.
14 Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
15 Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.
17 And it was by faith that the three disciples obtained a promise that they should not taste of death; and they obtained not the promise until after their faith.
19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.
22 And it is by faith that my fathers have obtained the promise that these things should come unto their brethren through the Gentiles; therefore the Lord hath commanded me, yea, even Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, note that Moroni himself has had many of those and other miracles occur in his life:
Christ showed himself unto;
called after the holy order of God;
received commandments directly from the Lord;
escaped enemies and death;
baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost;
preached by the power of the Spirit;
special promises of his written word and eternal life given and fulfilled;
read the brother of Jared’s account of his vision of all things;
obtained the promise that these things should come unto their brethren through the Gentiles (through him).
Later in Ether 12, Moroni adds another miracle performed by the brother of Jared:
29 And I, Moroni, having heard these words, was comforted, and said: O Lord, thy righteous will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith;
30 For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith.
I propose (as a thought) that the box that the golden plates were in was moved from its original location to New York by a miracle performed by Moroni, perhaps even a “moving-the-mount” which would make the hill Cumorah that Moroni hid the plates in, the same hill Cumorah in New York, relocated.