The Enigma of
The manís name was Edward Leedskalnin (1887-1951). Born in Latvia, he received only a third or fourth grade education. When Ed was 28-years old, he became engaged to marry a 16-year old girl named Agnes Scuffs (Skuvst), whom he called his "Sweet Sixteen."
The day before their scheduled wedding, however, Agnes told Ed that he was too poor and too old for her to marry. Heart-broken, Ed sailed to the New World and worked his way through Canada, down into California, east to Texas, finally arriving in southern Florida sometime between 1918 and 1920. Although Ed was just over five feet tall and weighed about 100 pounds he worked in lumber camps and on at least one cattle drive along the way.
Sometime during his travels he developed
a touch of tuberculosis and decided that Floridaís sunny climate
would be good for his health. He settled down in the little town of
Florida City, located about 27 miles southwest of Miami. There he
began to build a coral castle as a tribute to his Sweet Sixteen. The
site was first opened to the public in 1923. It took about twenty
years to complete most of the castle structures existing today.
Eventually, Ed wrote five pamphlets. Three of them were about "Magnetic Current." One pamphlet titled "Mineral, Vegetable and Animal Life," contains his beliefs about lifeís cycle. Another tided "A Book in Every Home" contains his thoughts about his domestic and political views, as well as thoughts about his Sweet Sixteen. He made money from giving tours of the castle for a dime to a quarter per person and from the sale of his pamphlets, but most of his money probably came from the sale of some of his land where U.S. Highway 1 passes the castle.
In a 16-page color brochure I purchased from the Coral Castle, a man named E. L. Lawrence claims,
The Coral Castle website 4 states,
Apparently he was a very private man who took great pains to avoid being seen at work. He also carved several pieces of furniture out of the native limestone, including tables, chairs, and a rocker.
Ripleyís Believe It Or Not
alleges that Edís 5,000-pound heart-shaped rock table is the worldís
largest valentine. The rocking chair is said to weigh three
So over the next three years he
moved the castle, block by block, about 10 miles north of Florida
City to the town of Homestead, where he bought ten acres and
reconstructed the castle.4 Another source2 reports that
Ed moved the
castle "three miles north of Homestead". Still another
website3 states that he moved everything 10 miles away, leaving just
one tower behind, and he did it in less than a month. If these
sources canít even get the geographical specifications or timing of
events correct, what credence should a skeptic give to other aspects
of their stories? Today Coral Castle occupies only three of the
original ten acres.
Was this designed as another tribute to Edís sweetheart or just a coincidence? A 40-foot tall obelisk weighing 28 tons (22 tons by another account6) appears to be the only giant monolith inside the park walls. It has an opening near its top that is carved in the shape of a Latvian star. The obelisk stands alone near the east perimeter wall of the park opposite the tower.
According to the video tour, the obelisk is buried in a shaft 4-5 feet underground.
It bears the carved inscriptions: MADE 1928, MOVED 1939, BORN 1887, LATVIA.
A view of the castle
with a 40 foot obelisk in the background
Another monolithic structure with a hole near the top, called the "Polaris telescope," is said to weigh 40,000 pounds and stands 25 feet tall (the color brochure says 20 tons on page 6; almost 30 tons on page 5; 28 tons on page 16!). The telescope actually consists of two parts. The freestanding part is located 20 feet outside the north castle wall. The "eyepiece" is a hole located in the north wall.
Apertures in both parts of the
telescope contain two crossed wires. The North Star (Polaris) can be
seen on any clear night by aligning both sets of crosswires. The
date 1940 is carved into one side of the telescope. The tour guide
pamphlet states that 1940 is the date that Ed completed it. This
leaves me wondering if construction of the telescope was begun at
the Florida City site, or if its construction was both begun and
completed at the Homestead site.
Data gathered by Edís observations through the Polaris telescope allowed him to construct the sundial. The video tour shows the details of the sundial most clearly. Some fuzzy pictures of the sundial are in Stonerís pamphlet. Edís sundial was constructed to record the hours between 9 am and 4 pm-the hours he believed a man should work (yet Ed reportedly worked at night!).
According to the Coral Castle website,
These exact dimensions should weigh 12,000 pounds or
6 tons, but that is still a lot of rock. In June 2005, the website
states that the weight of each section is "more than 58 tons!"
Obviously, the Coral Castleís website could use some proof-reading.
Another website 5 says that the wall blocks weigh approximately 15
tons each, making skeptics dubious about any of these measurements.
It has been estimated that the
Great Pyramid of Egypt at Giza was
built from 2.5 million blocks of limestone, each averaging 2.5 tons
(5,000 pounds).7 If the average limestone block at Coral Castle
weighs 6 tons, it would be more than twice as heavy as an average
block in the Great Pyramid.
No one knows how he was able to do it. The gate was repaired (new bearings, shaft replacement) in 1986 by six men and a 50-ton crane. The gate was so delicately balanced on its pivots that it was said to have moved at the touch of a finger, although today it does not move so easily. Now the gate is left permanently ajar to avoid crushing visitors, but it reportedly still fills the opening within a quarter inch on both sides. Just inside this gate there is a staircase carved out of the ground rock leading down to a subterranean fresh water well.
water table is only about six feet deep in this part of Florida.
Unless the blocks could be dragged from the quarry to the tripod, it would need to be moved or rebuilt each time a new rock surface was quarried, an unlikely procedure.
to see detailed images click on different areas of above image
When asked how he managed to move large limestone blocks, Ed simply replied that he understood the laws of weight and leverage.
As an example of a first class lever, with fulcrum or pivot between the weight and the lifting force, let us assume that the limestone block weighs one ton. Theoretically (ignoring the weight of the lever arms), if all of the weight of the block could rest on the end of the "lever arm of the load" just two feet from the fulcrum, and a force of 100 pounds (Edís weight) is applied to the end of the "lever arm of the force," the latter would have to exceed 40 feet in length to move an entire block off the ground.
Of course, lifting
just one end or side of a block off the ground to place a rope or
cable under it could be done with a shorter lever, but this
illustrates one of the problems that a 100-pound man would have in
raising any part of a one-ton block by use of levers, let alone a
six-ton block. Inside the park walls, the tower is the only enclosed
structure. There is an outdoor cookery and rock bathtub, but
reportedly there never was any plumbing or electricity.
One photograph, labeled "Ed with Tripod," shows a man pulling on the line of a pulley attached near the apex of a tripod that I estimate (from the height of 5-foot Ed, whose feet cannot be seen to be on the ground) to be at least 15 feet tall; another pulley appears also to be attached near the apex of the tripod; both lower ends of these pulley lines appear to be wrapped around the same end of a block of limestone resting on the ground.
Unless Ed somehow took a photograph
of himself, someone else must have taken the picture. This, of
course, would argue against the claim that "no one ever saw Ed at
work on the castle." Just constructing the tripod itself would
present problems for a single worker.
Two blocks (A and B) are involved
that contain grooved wheels known as sheaves that have link pockets
in the groove to keep the chain that passes over them from slipping.
The top block (A) consists of a large sheave (C) welded to a smaller
sheave (D), both sharing the same axle. An endless chain runs from a
power source (perhaps muscle power), around sheave (D) to the sheave
in block B whose axle supports the load, then back up to the large
sheave (C), then back to the power source. Even a slight difference
in the radii of sheaves C and D can produce a very large mechanical
advantage. This type of pulley is often used to lift automobile
engines, or even the much larger loads required in foundries and
other heavy industries.
The video also shows a clear photograph of Ed using a differential chain block supported by a tripod of poles and hoisting a block of limestone. The video narrator claimed that Ed relied more on his "come along" than on his other hoisting tools. Apparently there was a "come along" hanging on the tool room wall but it was not so identified, and how it was used was not explained. If other chains in the tool room were not part of hoists, of what use could they have been? Perhaps Edís truck was operational during the construction of the first castle. If the blocks were dragged by the truck from the quarry to the tripod, chains would have experienced less wear during this process than fabric straps or rope.
None of the tripod poles he used to hoist the
blocks are reported to exist in the park today by any of the
references I consulted.
The rails that Ed "laid" on the bed of his truck chassis would best be welded in place, but no welding equipment was reported in Edís workshop. However, copper wires, magnets, and welding rods were found there, but no batteries. Ed apparently thought he had a good working knowledge of basic electrical principles. He is even said to have built an alternating current (AC) generator. Magnets mounted on the edge of a flywheel are visible, and they might have served as the rotor, but no stator windings can be seen.
A photo on page 14 of the color brochure shows Ed with his hand on the hand crank of his AC generator.
Ed wrote three small books on magnetic phenomena (one website10 contains free links to Edís "magnetic current" books) in which he presents instructions for carrying out many kinds of experiments with magnets (both permanent and electric).
In these books, he used welding rods for some of his experiments; at some time he also had a car battery, and he made 6-8 volt light bulbs shine by alternating current. Today, some 4-wheel drive vehicles have a winch mounted on the front that operates from direct current (DC) battery power.
So if Ed could have built or obtained a DC electric motor, he could have used it to run a winch. Using a battery to run a winch would deplete its energy rapidly and it would need repetitive replacement or recharging. Recharging a car battery by a hand-cranked generator would be an arduous task. So if Ed used battery power to hoist loads he would have needed a source of mechanical energy (such as an internal combustion engine) to turn the armature (windings of copper wire) of an electric generator; the generator supplies an electric current in the stationary armature that turns the rotor of an electric motor to obtain mechanical rotation.
receiving alternating current usually run at constant speed, whereas
the speed of motors receiving direct current (DC) can be controlled
to some extent and the starting torque is much greater than in AC
motors. Thus, electric motors used for hoists would preferably be
powered by DC rather than AC. So why didnít Ed build a DC generator
instead of an AC one? Furthermore, a DC generator could be used to
recharge his storage battery whereas an AC current would first need
to be rectified to DC for that purpose.
Dunn wonders if Ed used the crank to start an engine
rather than generate AC power by hand.
Geologist Eugene A. Shinn presents evidence that these blocks were not carved by humans, but formed by a natural process of precipitation of calcium carbonate, explaining:
With continued erosion by wave-driven beach sand, the cracks enlarge
and take on a rounded shape. The result is rows of huge
pillow-shaped stones that appear to have been fitted neatly
together, much like the stone walls high in the mountains at the
Peruvian ruins of
There is a quarry alongside of the Castle but only part of that
stone was used in its construction. Most of the castle is
constructed from oolite that was quarried somewhere else, but
probably not more than a mile away.
My suspicion was that the castle was
made of that stone and simply dropped off a flat bed rail car right
where the castle sits. Well I was wrong. It is made of the local
Miami oolite. There is still the possibility that the stones were
moved on a flat bed car from just down the road a mile or two. So
there is the challenge. Where did it come from and how did he move
A hand saw might be useful in shaping a block once it is removed from its bed, but I do not understand how it could be of much use for quarrying at depths of more than a foot or two. According to Shinn, the rock at Coral Castle is about 120,000 years old and was deposited as lime sand bars when the sea level was about 20 feet higher than at present. The large blocks are the typical size that were quarried in the area. Many old buildings in the Miami area were constructed from it. Shinn remarked "Whether Leedskalnin quarried the blocks himself or obtained them from a commercial quarry I do not know."
In contrast to the limestone used to build Coral Castle, Shimís so-called "beachrock" is very hard; he had to use diamond tip core bits to drill into it. Carbon-14 data revealed that the Bimini beachrock was only 2,000 to 4,000 years old-much too young to be part of Atlantis, which Plato, the originator of the Atlantis story, set 9,000 years into his past.
Others date the lost
civilization to at least 15,000 years ago.13
living relative, a nephew named Harry Leedskalnin, inherited Rock
Gate Park. When Harry sold it to another family in 1953, Rock Gate
Park was renamed Coral Castle. Upon inspection of the property, a
note was found containing instructions that led to the discovery of
thirty-five $100 bills-Edís life savings. Is it possible that Edís
nephew or those who purchased the Coral Castle removed and did not
report any of the power tools left there-perhaps to enhance the
mystique of Edís accomplishments?
I am reminded of the
old adage "Love conquers all."