Coral Castle is a stone structure created by the Latvian-American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin north of the city of Homestead, Florida in Miami-Dade County at the intersection of U.S. 1 (South Dixie Highway) and Southwest 157th Ave. The structure comprises numerous megalithic stones (mostly limestone, formed from coral), each weighing several tons.
Edward Leedskalnin was left by his 16-year-old fiancée Agnes Scuffs in Latvia, just one day before the wedding. Leaving for America, he came down with allegedly terminal tuberculosis but spontaneously healed, stating that magnets had some effect on his disease.
Edward spent over 28 years building the Coral Castle, refusing to allow anyone to view him while he worked. A few teenagers, who claimed to have witnessed his work, reported that he had caused the blocks of coral to move like hydrogen balloons. The only tool that Leedskalnin spoke of using was a “perpetual motion holder” and claimed he knew the secrets of how the Ancient Great Pyramids of Giza were built. Leedskalnin started his work in 1923 and continued to work on the castle up until his death in 1951. The coral pieces that are part of the newer castle, not among those transported from the original location, were quarried on the property only a few feet away from the southern wall.
The grounds of Coral Castle consist of 1,100 tons of stones found in the forms of walls, carvings, furniture and a castle tower. While commonly referred to as being made up of coral, it is actually made of oolite, also known as oolitic limestone. Oolite is a sedimentary rock composed of small spherical grains of concentrically layered carbonate that may include localized concentrations of fossil shells and coral. Oolite is found throughout southeastern Florida from as north as Palm Beach County to as south as the Florida Keys. Oolite is often found beneath only several inches of topsoil such as at the Coral Castle site.
The stones are fastened together without any mortar. They are simply set on top of each other using their immense weight to keep them together. However, the craftsmanship detail is so skillful that the stones are connected with such precision that no light passes between the seams. The eight foot tall vertical stones that make up the perimeter wall have a uniform height. Even with the passage of decades and a direct hit on August 24, 1992 by the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew, which leveled everything in the area, the stones have not shifted.
The structure is considered mysterious by some, mainly because it is often said that one man assembled the entire structure. Leedskalnin seems to have gone to great lengths to ensure that he was not observed working. The Castle’s official site states that “Ed did much of his work at night by lantern light. The Coral Castle has numerous lookouts along the Castle walls that were designed to help protect his privacy.”
There are various theories that hold that Leedskalnin constructed the Castle using some unknown form of science. For example, one website claims that “Ed Leedskalnin left behind the blueprints of nature, a Secret Knowledge of the Ancients”. Such theories seem to be discounted by evidence such as photographs which exist showing Leedskalnin working apparently using traditional methods like block and tackle.
There is, however, skepticism as to the success of the traditional methods of tripods equipped with pulleys and chains that are in the photographs of Leedskalnin working. Skeptics point out that the Tripods appear to only rise about 20 feet (6.1 m) while the largest stones are 25 feet (7.6 m) long and stand vertical. The tripods are made from wooden telephone poles and could not support the larger stones. There are not enough pulleys to lessen the weight of the stones enough that a 100-pound man could exert enough force to lift the stones. Too many pulleys will actually be counterproductive because of increased friction. The 3/8″ thick chains that can still be found in the Tool Room of the Castle Tower and which are seen in the photographs are only rated with a 3.5 ton workload and would not be able to support the weight of the stones.
The Coral Castle site states that “if anyone ever questioned Ed about how he moved the blocks of coral, Ed would only reply that he understood the laws of weight and leverage well.” He also stated that he had “discovered the secrets of the pyramids”, which of course could be interpreted in either esoteric or engineering terms.
The Coral Castle site claims that “Ed Leedskalnin has baffled engineers and scientists!”However a skeptical website claimed that “despite the information on their Web site, the Coral Castle information booth was unable to identify a single scientist or engineer who had specifically examined the castle”.