The Coral Castle
The Coral Castle is a Florida attraction located across from a Pizza Hut on US-1, about 30 miles south of Miami. Normally when you hear “Florida attraction,” you think of alligator wrestling, Weeki Wachee mermaids, and cockatiel parrots pedaling miniature bicycles on tightropes. But the Coral Castle is different – way different. From an engineering and construction perspective, it is every bit as mysterious as Egypt’s Great Pyramid, Peru’s 12-Angled Stone, and Lebanon’s Baalbek Trilithon. Yet it was built in the early to mid-20th century by one man working mostly with his bare hands, mostly at night.
Edward Leedskalnin (1887-1951), an eccentric 5-foot-tall, 100-pound Latvian immigrant, arrived in the US in 1912 and worked for a time in the logging and mining industries. Leedskalnin came from a family of stonemasons – his grandfather made tombstones. “I know the secret of how the pyramids of Egypt were built!” Leedskalnin declared, and he devoted nearly 30 years of his life proving it. He was on a futile mission to win back the heart of a Latvian woman who had broken off her engagement to him years earlier when she was 16.
Leedskalnin began work on a rock garden in Florida City, FL in 1922 but relocated it – rock sculptures and all – to Homestead, FL in the early 1930s. Although the move took place after thugs attacked him on his Florida City property, the main reason for relocating to Homestead may have been that it is supposedly situated at an intersection of Earth energy lines.
Over the next 20 years, Leedskalnin constructed a massive complex he called Rock Gate. Working mostly at night, using basic tools, and subsisting on an odd diet of only crackers and sardines, he quarried, moved, and sculpted more than 1,100 tons of monolithic coral blocks that weighed, on average, more than the blocks used to construct the Great Pyramid. Many of Rock Gate’s multi-ton sculptures celebrated the Moon and planets. The largest sculpture contained a 30-ton block.
One of the complex's most fascinating features was its unique entrance gate – an 8-foot-tall, 9-ton revolving stone that was so perfectly balanced a small child could easily move it with one finger. (This is strangely like the ancient Roman historian Strabo’s description of the Great Pyramid’s secret entrance door.) No one knows how Edward Leedskalnin was able to find the exact center of mass of an unevenly cut coral block to facilitate this balance.
What was Leedskalnin’s secret? We may never know because he took his secrets with him to the grave. Engineers, technologists, college professors, and even the US Government have studied the Coral Castle through the years and tried to unravel its mysteries, but with only limited success.
We know Leedskalnin cut the stones using a chain with teeth. And he used a chain ratchet and system of rollers to move them. And a makeshift telephone pole tripod and block-and-tackle chain hoist to lift them. So far, so good.
Perhaps the answer to the Coral Castle’s greatest riddles involves electromagnetism.
Leedskalnin was fascinated by magnetism and published pamphlets on the subject. As mentioned above, the Coral Castle is supposedly located at an intersection of Earth energy lines, which in turn have been tied to Earth's magnetic field. Leedskalnin disagreed with widely held theories of electromagnetism. He believed every substance contains individual, indestructible magnetic particles that hold it together. Some substances, like iron, contain more magnets than others, like wood. Leedskalnin’s workshop contained spools of copper wire, and it is said that at one time Leedskalnin had a copper wire grid suspended in the air above the compound and connected to a magnetic flywheel in his workshop.
Could there be a curious connection between the copper wire, electricity, magnetism, and the vibration frequency of huge coral blocks that enabled Leedskalnin to, in effect, defy gravity? We can only speculate.
The Coral Castle’s 9-ton entrance gate operated perfectly for about 50 years but finally stopped working in 1986. Not even a team of engineers with a 20-ton crane could fully fix it. When they removed the door, they found modified car parts and a strange circular rock at the base. University of Florida geologists analyzed the rock and were unable to match it to any mineral known on Earth.