Are we living in the Garden of Eden? I would think so!  I can’t think of another place in the world better suited than right here.

I get an idea in my head from time to time and it incubates there, and either fades away or I get obsessed with it.

That happened quite some time ago when an elderly lady, a Sunday school teacher at the BlountstownPrimitiveBaptistChurch, was along on a trip up the River aboard “Lily.” She sat right next to me in the navigator’s seat the whole trip and kept  preachin’ and tryin’ to save me until I finally told her I was already saved (leastways I hope I am) and couldn’t we just enjoy the River. Whereupon she commenced this long tale about a Baptist minister from Blountstown who had written a book, “In the Beginning,” published in 1966, whereby he established that the Garden of Eden was between Blountstown and Bristol on the east bank of the ApalachicolaRiver.  Lo and behold, when we got back to the hill, she had her very own personal copy dedicated to her and signed by the author. She wouldn’t let me hold it but she donned a pair of white gloves, and took the book out of a case, the cover was wrapped in tinfoil for protection, and she opened it for my inspection.

Well that thought stayed in the back of my mind for some time until recently I thought, “I need to find what this is all about.” So here’s what I know.

Elvy E. Callaway was born in 1889, a scholar and backwoods philosopher. He became a schoolteacher in a one-room schoolhouse at age 16. He went on to become a lawyer and Baptist minister and settled in Lakeland, where he became prominent in law, business and politics. He even ran for governor of Florida in 1936 as a Republican, quite a rarity at the time.

Along about 1947 he was summoned to Winter Park by Dr. Brown Landone and was told he had been “nominated to interpret ancient events.” Whereupon Callaway moved to the ApalachicolaValley and after years of study decided not only was the Garden of Eden located there but also it was the site where Noah built the Ark. That is, the main part of the Garden was there, the boundary extended to North Georgia and beyond, but the site where God took Adam’s rib to create Eve and the Tree of Knowledge were in the Valley near Bristol. (I think I’m pretty safe ‘cause nobody ever accused me of consuming anything with knowledge in it.) By now you’re probably thinking about having me committed, but here are Mr. Callaway’s theories.

According to Genesis, the river that fed the Garden of Eden came from four headwaters. The ApalachicolaRiver is the only river in the world that does so, namely, The Chattahoochee, Hiddekel, Spring Creek and Flint. The Torreya tree, which grows only in that area of the world, is also known as Gopher Wood from which Noah built the Ark. Twenty-five of the 28 trees mentioned in the Bible are found there. The fossils of every animal ever known to have existed on earth have been found in the Ashley Lime Beds of South Carolina. Genesis says that one of the rivers flowed through a land of gold. The Chattahoochee flows through an area near Dahlonega, Georgia, that has gold and the federal government even had a gold mint there at one time. So there you have it, you can say ipso facto, ergo or non sequitur or any other fancy word you like, but it makes good sense to me to conclude, as Mr. Callaway said, there is “unimpeachable evidence” that the Garden was in our region.  Now give me a break, since it really can’t be proven,  would you rather believe the Garden was in Iraq or the ApalachicolaValley? I’ll take the latter any day.

So exactly where is it? Take Highway 12 north out of Bristol to the Garden of Eden Road, the location of the Nature Conservancy Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. A 3.75-mile nature trail takes you through a lush forest to Alum Bluff on the ApalachicolaRiver. Also visit TorreyaState Park off of County Road 30-A near Bristol, home of Noah’s Gopher Wood.

Whew, I’m about tuckered out and have a headache from all the researchin’ and factfindin’ I’ve been doin’. Though there’s just one more thing I wish Mr. Callaway had found out for us - the answer to the question that has baffled theologians throughout the centuries, “Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?”

Your friend,

Capt. Gill