The Koreshan World

by Roger Parlin, Volunteer, Docent, Tour Guide

Dr. Cyrus Teed’s vision of the world expressed in the sect he founded and called Koreshanity reflects his religious and scientific beliefs, much of which, according to Teed, was given to him in his “Illumination” in 1869. Foremost, and arguably the most outlandish of his beliefs, was that we lived inside a hollow earth. Teed was not alone; other notable scientists of the day also posited the earth was hollow.

Teed and Koreshan Unity member Dr. Ulysses Grant Morrow performed a Geodetic land survey in the spring of 1897 to confirm this theory. They used a surveying tool called the rectilineator, a section of which is on display inside the Art Hall in the Historic Settlement area of Koreshan State Park. Teed and Morrow performed their survey on Naples Beach, the only place in the area at that time where there was a clear view of the horizon.

However, because the rectilineator was made of wood and each section of the 48-foot device was only 12-feet long, they had to perform over 1,000 “leapfrog” actions, moving one twelve-foot rear section to the front repeatedly along the four-mile beach. Each “leapfrog” introduced a slight error they did not detect. In South Florida’s notorious rain and humidity, even if the surveying crew kept the device dry under canvas tarps, the device likely warped. Also, any wooden device that long will warp under its own weight. Though undoubtedly a brilliant man, Dr. Morrow taught shorthand and business in college, not surveying or math, and was no surveyor.

Still, when people want to prove a particular theory, there is the tendency to dismiss any facts that might disprove their theory, no matter how sound, and to allow any fact that supports the theory, no matter how weak, to prove it. Hence, their survey indicated that the horizon on either end of the four miles of Naples beach rose around thirty-six inches or eight inches per mile. This to Teed proved his belief that we indeed live on the inside of a concave world.

To learn more about Teed and his outlandish theories, book a guided tour of the Koreshan Historic Settlement or purchase a copy of The Allure of Immortality from our online store or the Koreshan State Park Ranger Station.

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