The Original Garden of Eden?

August 6, 2020

We know many of you are limiting travel during these uncertain times.  Although we continue to feature trips and places to visit, we are not encouraging you to visit them until it is safe.  We want to support Florida's attractions and businesses during this situation, and hope you will plan to visit them when things get better.  In the meantime, enjoy them virtually from the comfort of your home. 

Bristol is the county seat of Liberty County, Florida.  It is at the intersection of State Roads 20 and 12 about 50 miles west of Tallahassee and about 20 miles south of the Georgia state line.

Adam and Eve in the Garden of EdenAdam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

This town of less than 1,000 people lies about 5 miles east of the Apalachicola River.

It is far east in Northwest Florida, so it could be considered to be near the border between Florabama and Florgia.  These regional terms were invented by the late author Al Burt in his classic Florida book "Becalmed in the Mullet Latitudes".

As you might guess, Florabama is that portion of North Florida that borders Alabama;  Florgia is the portion that borders Georgia. 

This is grits, fried green tomato, and sweet tea country.

Bristol, Florida Garden of Eden SignState Archives of Florida

An old timer named Elvy Callaway got a lot of publicity a generation or two ago by claiming that the biblical Garden of Eden was in northern Liberty County.   Elvy was a country lawyer and a Baptist preacher.

He said the evidence was that the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee River system has four heads, just like the river described in the Bible.

He also said the area is rich in gopher wood, the same stuff that Noah used to build his ark.

Liberty County Courthouse, BristolLiberty County Courthouse, Bristol

Further evidence, said Elvy, was that the area from the Chattahoochee River south to Bristol contains 28 of the 30 varieties of trees mentioned in the Bible.

He believed that the Garden of Eden started about 4 miles north of Bristol and extended north into Georgia, and it was 25 miles wide in an east-west direction, and 35 miles long in the north-south direction.

The Garden of Eden was a Bristol, Florida Tourist Attraction

The area of Callaway's Garden of Eden became a minor tourist attraction in the 1950s through the 1970s. 

People visited it for the chance to see the birthplace of Adam and to look at the amazing variety of plants and trees in the area.

Old Building in Bristol, FloridaOld Building in Bristol, Florida

You can get a glimpse of the natural beauty of this area by visiting Torreya State Park. Keep your eyes open for the gopher wood tree, torreya taxifolia.

Torreya State Park and Apalachicola River near  Bristol FloridaApalachicola River at Torreya State Park

If a Florida snake invites you to take a bite of an apple, you might think twice about it.

Bristol, Florida Recommended Restaurant


10536 NW State Road 20
Bristol, Florida 32321-3440
Tel: 850-643-2264

Apalachee RestaurantApalachee Restaurant

Since Bristol is a small town of less than 1,000 people, there are not that many restaurants to pick from.  Nearby Blountstown has a few, but a good choice is the Apalachee Restaurant on the main highway through Bristol, State Road 20.

Although you can order from the menu, the buffet is usually a treat too.  North Florida is Southern in culture, and the food in this small restaurant confirms it.

Among the offerings are Southern Fried Chicken, Barbecue Beef Brisket, catfish, turnip greens (just called greens down here), corn bread and corn bread dressing, white acre peas, biscuits, and other Southern staples.

Apalachee Restaurant, Bristol, FloridaApalachee Restaurant, Bristol, Florida

The buffet also has pork chops, beets, collards, baked chicken, green beans, potatoes (mashed and not), fried squash and okra, and plenty of bread and desserts.

Most of these offerings are also available from the menu, but you can also get hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, and other standard fare.

The staff is friendly and so are the customers.  Even though you may not be from Bristol, you will feel at home.  You will enjoy being addressed as "yes sir" and "yes mam" by the young folks you might encounter.

Apalachee Restaurant is open 7 days a week from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm except they close at 3:00 pm on Sunday.



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