If you thought the Garden of Eden was somewhere in the Middle East, guess again. It was in Bristol Florida all this time … or so the story goes. According to Baptist preacher Elvy E. Callaway, Bristol is the home town of Adam and Eve. As farfetched as this may sound, Rev. Callaway may have been on to something.
In the 1950s, Callaway discovered a significant number of features in Bristol that matched the Bible’s description of the Garden of Eden. He pointed out that Genesis 2:10 states "a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from hence it was parted, and became into four heads." That matches the description of the Apalachicola River, which splits into four rivers. The Reverend claimed that only two rivers in the world fit the Bible’s description: the Apalachicola, and one in Siberia (where it’s obviously too cold for the Garden of Eden!) Callaway also identified 28 species of trees mentioned in the Bible, trees that are found very few other places in the entire world.
After Callaway passed away at the age of 91, his theory began to fizzle and his followers eventually drifted away … but the garden remains. Today, the area is owned by the Nature Conservancy. Upon first glance, the area doesn’t appear to be anything special, but as you hike the winding trails, the Oak and Pine trees of Florida give way to a lush forest of Magnolia and Laurels. A narrow path follows the deep ravine covered in Fern, Wisteria and Dogwood blossoms. You quickly realize that this landscape does not belong in Florida!