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Bristol is the county seat and a city in Liberty County with an estimated population of around a thousand people. The community was named from Bristol, England. Liberty County is in the heart of Florida’s Panhandle and preserves some of Florida’s most precious natural and historical resources. Home to Florida’s natural beauty and original landscape, it is also one of the least populated areas. People in Bristol believe they are the fortunate few who have discovered and treasure a lifestyle befitting Florida’s last frontier.
Bristol, like the rest of Liberty County, is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike who revel in the rivers, forests and other natural attributes. This rural community is served by a good Liberty County Library. The local Liberty County High School fulfills the needs of the 300 children. This tiny community has several churches in the vicinity, including two Baptist Churches, The Assembly of God and The Bristol Pentecostal Holiness.
A number of Indian sites have been discovered here by archaeologists. During the first Seminole Indian War in 1818, General Andrew Jackson crossed the river here with his army. The Torreya State Park is just north of the town and is one of Florida’s most scenic places. The high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River, high pinelands and a rich variety of foliage make it a nature lovers’ paradise. The park is named for an extremely rare species of Torreya tree that grows only on the bluffs along the Apalachicola River.
Vicinity of Bristol
Other rare plants found in the park include the Florida yew tree and the winged elm. There are river swamps, hardwood hammocks and each area grows a different variety of trees, shrubs and wildflowers, blooming at different times of the year. The bluffs and ravines are forested by many hardwood trees and provide the finest display of fall color found in Florida. Over 100 species of unique and colorful birds may be seen throughout the area. It is not uncommon to find deer, beaver, bobcat, grey fox and the unusual Barbours map turtle in this unspoiled terrain.
The park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and is popular for camping, hiking, and bird-watching. The most peaceful and scenic campgrounds include the main campground offering full-facility and two primitive campsites located along the hiking trail for registered hikers. A picnic area with covered shelters is also provided.
Gregory House is a fully furnished plantation home built in 1849, by Planter Jason Gregory. It originally stood across the river from the park at Ocheesee Landing. Gregory’s plantation prospered until the beginning of the Civil War and suffered with the abolition of slavery. In 1935, the house was dismantled and moved to its present location in the park. Ranger guided tours of this historic site tell the story of life on plantations of yore. It also provides resource-based recreation while preserving, interpreting and restoring natural and cultural resources.