Thursday, May 15, 2008
Apalachicola River, Part Fifteen
This is a view of some of the surviving Confederate earthworks at Alum Bluff on the Apalachicola River.
Most of the artillery battery site here has eroded away due to the natural expansion of the massive bluff, but a few traces of earthwork fortifications can still be seen.
The battery never came under attack and was abandoned in 1863 in favor of the Rock Bluff site a short distance upriver at Torreya State Park.
The site today is preserved as part of the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve. This beautiful tract of property is owned by The Nature Conservancy and is open to the public during the daylight hours. The preserve protects a pristine environment of unique steephead ravines and the spectacular bluff overlooking the river. Local tradition holds that this was the site of the Garden of Eden and that the extremely rare Florida Torreya tree that grows here was the gopher wood from which Noah built the ark.
A hiking trail - appropriately named the "Garden of Eden Trail" - can be accessed from a parking area just off State Highway 12 on the northern edge of Bristol. It is a long walk out to the bluff. The total hike is a little over three miles round trip, much of it up and down steep ravines that are extremely rare for Florida. If you are in physical condition to make the hike, though, it provides you with a chance to experience a truly beautiful part of the Sunshine State and perhaps the finest view in Florida.
To learn more about the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/apalachicolabluffs1. The site is in the process of being updated, so all areas will not be active for another few days.
Our series will continue.