Back when I was a kid, my mother had a travel guide on the bookshelf with the title Florida Isn’t Heaven! I was reminded of that today when I heard where my brother went. Now that he isn’t working on weekends anymore, he spends his time off sightseeing in the Tallahassee area. That in itself is no surprise; I did that during my first year in Kentucky (until Leive moved here to join me), and two years ago, I did a little bit in Connecticut. Unfortunately I didn’t go out as much in Connecticut because gas prices were so high.
Anyway, today my brother drove west for an hour and came to Torreya State Park, at Bristol, FL. On Facebook he posted this picture of a Torreya tree, a type of yew that can only be found there:
I immediately remembered that years ago, a pastor named Elvy Calloway claimed the Garden of Eden was located on that spot in north Florida, and I commented on it in one of my history papers, Chapter 8 of The Genesis Chronicles. I told my brother that, and how Calloway also believed Noah used wood from the Torreya tree. He responded that the trees he saw were so small, it would have taken a million of them to build an ark! Oh, well, the Eden-in-Florida theory still has a few bugs in it. I guess David Rohl’s theory about Eden being in the same location as Tabriz, Iran, is still the best one that explains the evidence.
I also did a Google search to find out what information is available online about Mr. Calloway and that part of Florida, and updated the paragraph I had on them. Here is how it will read now:
11. The Florida Panhandle. Elvy E. Calloway (1889-1981), a Baptist pastor and retired lawyer, claimed that the Garden of Eden was on the banks of the Apalachicola River, one mile from Bristol, FL. Despite his background, he was no fundamentalist (he took Clarence Darrow’s side during the John Scopes trial); he got his ideas from metaphysics, numerology, and libertarian politics as well as the Bible. In the early 1950s Calloway set up a Garden of Eden park on the site, and in 1971 he wrote a book, In The Beginning, to promote his theories. He believed Bristol marked the spot because the Apalachicola is the only four-headed river system in the world (the other is in Siberia); and that onyx, bdellium, and gold are found nearby. Finally, because the Apalachicola River runs through a ravine, while most of Florida is flat, the Bristol area is home to several rare plants; the Torreya tree, which Calloway thought was the source of gopher wood, Noah’s building material, grows nowhere else. The state of Florida must have liked the Eden idea, because after Calloway’s death, the hiking trail from his park became part of the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, and another park, Torreya State Park, was established nearby.