Though I’m unable to recall the way that I was first introduced to Coral Castle, I can say (with 100% certainty) that I was instantly curious about this strange destination. Nestled between the Florida Keys and Miami, Coral Castle is an astounding monument to one man’s determination. Often referred to as America’s Stonehenge, it has baffled scientists, engineers and scholars since its opening in 1923.
Coral Castle is a stone structure created by the Latvian American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin (1887–1951) north of the city of Homestead, Florida. The structure comprises numerous large stones (mostly limestone formed from coral), each weighing several tons. Local legend claims it was built single-handedly by Leedskalnin using reverse-magnetism and/or supernatural abilities to move and carve numerous stones weighing many tons. (There are, also, legends of people viewing UFOs from the site. Due to its scientifically accurate replication of the solar system.) It’s estimated that 1,000 tons of coral rock were used in construction of the walls and towers, and an additional 100 tons of it were carved into furniture and art objects:
- An obelisk he raised weighs 28 tons.
- The wall surrounding Coral Castle stands 8 ft. tall and consists of large blocks each weighing several tons.
- Large stone crescents are perched atop 20-ft.-high walls.
- A 9-ton swinging gate that moves at the touch of a finger guards the eastern wall.
- The largest rock on the property weighs an estimated 35 tons.
- Some stones are twice the weight of the largest blocks in the Great Pyramid at Giza.
Above: Other tourists wander through Leedskalnin’s creation. (By the way, there is nothing holding the blocks of stone together, other than the sheer force of gravity. No mortar, nothing. Isn’t that incredible?)
Above: The infamous crescent moon…With a colorful little visitor perched.
Above: A view of the “throne” that Leedskalnin carved. There is almost no “actual” furniture on the property; only pieces fashioned out of the stone.
Above: My comrade for the day, and good friend, Marie.
Above: This is where Ed Leedskalnin lived, during the time in which Coral Castle was being constructed. He lived pretty simply, with just the few personal belongings that you see here and as you continue below.
Working alone, Leedskalnin (who is pictured life-sized, above) labored for 20 years – from 1920 to 1940 – to build the home he originally called “Rock Gate Park” in Florida City. The story goes that he built it after being jilted by his fiancée, who changed her mind about marrying him because he was too old and too poor. After wandering around the U.S. and Canada for several years, Leedskalnin settled in Florida City for health reasons; he had been diagnosed with tuberculosis.
He began building his coral home in 1920. Then in 1936, when a planned new subdivision of homes threatened his privacy, Leedskalnin moved his entire home – and its many tons of coral – 10 miles to Homestead, where he completed it, and where it still stands as a tourist attraction.
How Leedskalnin managed this feat of engineering has remained a mystery all these years because, incredibly, no one saw him do it. A secretive man, Leedskalnin often worked at night by lantern light. And so there are no credible witnesses to how the small, frail man was able to move the huge blocks of rock. Even when he moved the entire structure to Homestead, neighbors saw the coral blocks being transported on a borrowed truck, but no one seems to know how Leedskalnin got them on and off the vehicle…