Friday, March 20, 2009

Was the Garden of Eden in Liberty County?

A fascinating legend surrounds Alum Bluff, a beautiful vista that rises above the Apalachicola River in Liberty County, Florida. According to the story, this was the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden.

The story gained considerable exposure during the mid-20th century when Bristol resident, minister and writer E.E. Callaway outlined his reasons for believing the story. Callaway pointed out that many rare plants grew at Alum Bluff that could not be found elsewhere in the world. Among this, for example, is the Florida Torreya tree, which local tradition holds was the gopher wood from which Noah built the ark. Callaway also noted that the Apalachicola River and its tributaries match pretty well the Biblical descriptions of the river that watered the Garden of Eden.

While most Biblical scholars hold that the true garden was in the Middle East, most likely in Iraq, the site identified by Callaway just north of Bristol is a truly beautiful natural garden. Alum Bluff is the largest exposed section of the Earth's crust in Florida. Now preserved by the Nature Conservancy, the bluff is open to the public each day via the appropriately named "Garden of Eden Trail."

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