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Eden did exist. And it was in Florida, of course.

Many novelists set their work in imaginary places. You’d expect this in Fantasy and Science Fiction, but in other genres we do this as well, creating towns and cities that don’t exist (though they might be based on real settings). It gives you more creative freedom and a lot less potential legal liability!

Eden, the setting of the Zeke Adams Mystery Series, is no exception. It is based upon towns along Florida’s Treasure Coast, such as Jensen Beach and Stuart. You won’t find Eden on a current map. But it did exist once, and it captures for me the allure of a simpler, more natural Florida devoid of endless strip centers, chain stores, and overly manicured tropical landscaping.

Eden began in 1879 when Captain Thomas E. Richards arrived from New Jersey and discovered paradise on the shores of the Indian River Lagoon. At this time, with America’s Wild West largely conquered, Florida south of St. Augustine was one of the last frontiers.

Captain Richards built a temporary shelter than evolved into a home that, in turn, became a small hotel attracting fishermen and other sportsmen. He found that pineapples flourished in the sandy soil, and soon other pioneer families arrived and planted pineapple farms.

In those days, the Indian River was the main travel artery, dotted with sloops, schooners and rowboats transporting fish, the pineapple crop and rare goods from the larger cities in northern Florida. Soon, steamboats appeared on the river as well. In the 1890s, when the Florida East Coast Railway made its way south through Eden, the area flourished.

Why did Eden disappear? It had nothing to do with a snake and forbidden fruit. I’ll cover the story soon in future posts.

Check out PARIAH, the first of the Zeke Adams Mystery Series, here:

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