Coral Castle
Overview
 
Coral Castle is a stone
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 structure created by the Latvian American eccentric
Eccentricity (behavior)
In popular usage, eccentricity refers to unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. This behavior would typically be perceived as unusual or unnecessary, without being demonstrably maladaptive...

 Edward Leedskalnin
Edward Leedskalnin
Edward Leedskalnin was an eccentric Latvian emigrant to the United States and amateur sculptor who single-handedly built the monument known as Coral Castle in Florida...

 (1887-1951) north of the city of Homestead, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Homestead is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States nestled between Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. Homestead is primarily a Miami suburb and a major agricultural area....

 in Miami-Dade County at the intersection of South Dixie Highway (U.S. 1
U.S. Route 1 in Florida
U.S. Route 1 in Florida runs along the state's east coast from Key West to its crossing of the St. Marys River into Georgia north of Boulogne, and south of Folkston. US 1 was designated through Florida when the U.S. Highway System was established in 1926.US 1 runs in the state of Florida, and...

) and West 157th Avenue. The structure comprises numerous megalithic stones (mostly limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 formed from coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

), each weighing several ton
Short ton
The short ton is a unit of mass equal to . In the United States it is often called simply ton without distinguishing it from the metric ton or the long ton ; rather, the other two are specifically noted. There are, however, some U.S...

s. It currently serves as a privately-operated tourist attraction
Tourist attraction
A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities....

. Coral Castle is noted for urban legends surrounding its creation that claim it was built single handedly by Leedskalnin using magnetism and/or supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 abilities.
According to the Coral Castle's own promotional material, Edward Leedskalnin was jilted by his 16-year-old fiancée Agnes Scuffs in Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, just one day before the wedding.
Encyclopedia
Coral Castle is a stone
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 structure created by the Latvian American eccentric
Eccentricity (behavior)
In popular usage, eccentricity refers to unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. This behavior would typically be perceived as unusual or unnecessary, without being demonstrably maladaptive...

 Edward Leedskalnin
Edward Leedskalnin
Edward Leedskalnin was an eccentric Latvian emigrant to the United States and amateur sculptor who single-handedly built the monument known as Coral Castle in Florida...

 (1887-1951) north of the city of Homestead, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Homestead is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States nestled between Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. Homestead is primarily a Miami suburb and a major agricultural area....

 in Miami-Dade County at the intersection of South Dixie Highway (U.S. 1
U.S. Route 1 in Florida
U.S. Route 1 in Florida runs along the state's east coast from Key West to its crossing of the St. Marys River into Georgia north of Boulogne, and south of Folkston. US 1 was designated through Florida when the U.S. Highway System was established in 1926.US 1 runs in the state of Florida, and...

) and West 157th Avenue. The structure comprises numerous megalithic stones (mostly limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 formed from coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

), each weighing several ton
Short ton
The short ton is a unit of mass equal to . In the United States it is often called simply ton without distinguishing it from the metric ton or the long ton ; rather, the other two are specifically noted. There are, however, some U.S...

s. It currently serves as a privately-operated tourist attraction
Tourist attraction
A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities....

. Coral Castle is noted for urban legends surrounding its creation that claim it was built single handedly by Leedskalnin using magnetism and/or supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 abilities.

History

According to the Coral Castle's own promotional material, Edward Leedskalnin was jilted by his 16-year-old fiancée Agnes Scuffs in Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, just one day before the wedding. Leaving for America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, he came down with allegedly terminal tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, but spontaneously healed, stating that magnets
Magnet therapy
Magnet therapy, magnetic therapy, or magnotherapy is an alternative medicine practice involving the use of static magnetic fields. Practitioners claim that subjecting certain parts of the body to magnetostatic fields produced by permanent magnets has beneficial health effects...

 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 claimed to have witnessed his work, reporting that he had caused the blocks of coral to move like hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 balloons. The only tool that Leedskalnin spoke of using was a "perpetual motion
Perpetual motion
Perpetual motion describes hypothetical machines that operate or produce useful work indefinitely and, more generally, hypothetical machines that produce more work or energy than they consume, whether they might operate indefinitely or not....

 holder."

Leedskalnin originally built the castle, which he named Rock Gate Park, in Florida City, Florida
Florida City, Florida
Florida City is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States and is the southernmost municipality in the South Florida metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 5,413,212 in 2007. The population was 7,843 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population estimated by the U.S....

 around 1923. He purchased the land from Ruben Moser whose wife helped assist him when he had a very bad bout with tuberculosis. Florida City, which borders the Everglades
Everglades
The Everglades are subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee...

, is the southernmost city in the United States that is not on an island. It was an extremely remote location with very little development at the time. The castle remained in Florida City until about 1936 when Leedskalnin decided to move and take the castle with him. The Coral Castle website states that he chose to move in order to protect his privacy when discussion about developing land in the area of the castle started. The second commonly held notion was that he wanted to relocate to a more populous locale after being badly beaten one night by hooligans looking to rob him. He spent three years moving the Coral Castle structures 10 miles (16 km) north from Florida City to its current location in Homestead, Florida.

Leedskalnin 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.

Leedskalnin charged visitors ten cents a head to tour the castle grounds. There are signs carved into rocks at the front gate to "Ring Bell Twice" and a second sign just inside the property that says "Adm. 10c Drop Below". He would come down from his living quarters in the second story of the castle tower close to the gate and conduct the tour. Leedskalnin never told anyone who asked him how he made the castle. He would simply answer "It's not difficult if you know how."

When asked why he had built the castle, Leedskalnin would vaguely answer it was for his "Sweet Sixteen." This is widely believed to be a reference to Agnes Scuffs (whose surname is given by some sources as "Skuvst"). In Leedskalnin's own publication A Book in Every Home he implies his "Sweet Sixteen" was more an ideal than a reality. According to a Latvian account, the woman existed, but her name was actually Hermīne Lūsis.

When Leedskalnin became ill in December 1951, he put a sign on the door of the front gate "Going to the Hospital" and took the bus to a Miami hospital. The doctors discovered Leedskalnin was suffering from advanced stomach cancer. He died in the hospital three days later.

While the property was being investigated, $3,500 was found among Leedskalnin's personal belongings. Leedskalnin had made his income from conducting tours, selling pamphlets about various subjects (including magnetic currents) and the sale of a portion of his 10 acres (4 ha) property for the construction of U.S. Route 1. Having no will
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...

, the castle became the property of his closest living relative in America, a nephew from Michigan named Harry.

The Coral Castle website reports that the nephew was in poor health and he sold the castle to an Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 family in 1953. However, this story differs from the obituary of a former Coral Castle owner, Julius Levin, a retired jeweler from Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois. The obituary states Levin had purchased the land from the state of Florida in 1952 and may not have been aware there was even a castle on the land.

The new owners changed the name of Rock Gate Park to Coral Castle and turned it into a tourist attraction.

In January 1981, Levin sold the castle to the Coral Castle, Inc. for $175,000. They remain the owners today.

In 1984, the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

. It was added under the name of "Rock Gate," but the name on the list was changed to "Coral Castle" in 2011.

The Castle

The grounds of Coral Castle consist of 1100 short ton of stones in the form of walls, carvings, furniture and a castle tower. Commonly referred to as being made up of coral
Coral
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

, it is made of oolite
Oolite
Oolite is a sedimentary rock formed from ooids, spherical grains composed of concentric layers. The name derives from the Hellenic word òoion for egg. Strictly, oolites consist of ooids of diameter 0.25–2 mm; rocks composed of ooids larger than 2 mm are called pisolites...

, also known as oolitic limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

. Oolite is a sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

 composed of small spherical grains of concentrically layered carbonate
Carbonate
In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt of carbonic acid, characterized by the presence of the carbonate ion, . The name may also mean an ester of carbonic acid, an organic compound containing the carbonate group C2....

 that may include localized concentrations of fossil
Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

 shells and coral. Oolite is found throughout southeastern Florida from Palm Beach County
Palm Beach County, Florida
Palm Beach County is the largest county in the state of Florida in total area, and third in population. As of 2010, the county's estimated population was 1,320,134, making it the twenty-eighth most populous in the United States...

 to the Florida Keys
Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a coral archipelago in southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the westernmost of the inhabited islands, and on to the uninhabited Dry...

. Oolite is often found beneath only several inches of topsoil, such as at the Coral Castle site.

The stones are fastened together without mortar
Mortar (masonry)
Mortar is a workable paste used to bind construction blocks together and fill the gaps between them. The blocks may be stone, brick, cinder blocks, etc. Mortar becomes hard when it sets, resulting in a rigid aggregate structure. Modern mortars are typically made from a mixture of sand, a binder...

. They are set on top of each other using their weight to keep them together. The craftsmanship detail is so skillful and the stones are connected with such precision that no light passes through the joints. The 8 feet (2.4 m) 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
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
The Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale , or the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale , classifies hurricanes — Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms — into five categories distinguished by the intensities of their sustained winds...

 Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew was the third Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States, after the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969. Andrew was the first named storm and only major hurricane of the otherwise inactive 1992 Atlantic hurricane season...

, the stones have not shifted.

Many of the features and carvings of the castle are notable. Among them are a two-story castle tower that served as Leedskalnin's living quarters (walls consisting of 8-foot high pieces of stone), an accurate sundial
Sundial
A sundial is a device that measures time by the position of the Sun. In common designs such as the horizontal sundial, the sun casts a shadow from its style onto a surface marked with lines indicating the hours of the day. The style is the time-telling edge of the gnomon, often a thin rod or a...

, a Polaris telescope, an obelisk
Obelisk
An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top, and is said to resemble a petrified ray of the sun-disk. A pair of obelisks usually stood in front of a pylon...

, a barbecue, a water well
Water well
A water well is an excavation or structure created in the ground by digging, driving, boring or drilling to access groundwater in underground aquifers. The well water is drawn by an electric submersible pump, a trash pump, a vertical turbine pump, a handpump or a mechanical pump...

, a fountain
Fountain
A fountain is a piece of architecture which pours water into a basin or jets it into the air either to supply drinking water or for decorative or dramatic effect....

, celestial stars and planets, and numerous pieces of furniture. The furniture pieces include a heart-shaped table, a table in the shape of Florida, twenty-five rocking chair
Rocking chair
A rocking chair or rocker is a type of chair with two curved bands of wood attached to the bottom of the legs . The chair contacts with the floor at only two points, giving the occupant the ability to rock back and forth by shifting his/her weight or pushing lightly with his/her feet...

s, chairs resembling crescent moons
Lunar phase
A lunar phase or phase of the moon is the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, usually on Earth. The lunar phases change cyclically as the Moon orbits the Earth, according to the changing relative positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun...

, a bathtub, beds and a throne
Throne
A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many expressions such as "the power behind the...

.

With few exceptions, the objects are made from single pieces of stone that weigh on average 15 short ton each. The largest stone weighs 30 short ton and the tallest are two monolith
Monolith
A monolith is a geological feature such as a mountain, consisting of a single massive stone or rock, or a single piece of rock placed as, or within, a monument...

s standing 25 ft (7.6 m) each.

A 9 short ton revolving 8-foot tall gate is a famous structure of the castle, documented on the television programs In Search of... and That's Incredible!
That's Incredible!
That's Incredible! was an American reality television show that aired on the ABC television network from 1980 to 1984.-Synopsis:In the tradition of You Asked For It, Ripley's Believe It or Not! and Real People, the show featured people performing stunts and reenactments of allegedly paranormal events...

The gate is carved so that it fits within a quarter of an inch of the walls. It was well-balanced, reportedly so that a child could open it with the push of a finger. The mystery of the gate's perfectly balanced axis and the ease with which it revolved lasted for decades until it stopped working in 1986. In order to remove it, six men and a 50 short ton crane were used. Once the gate was removed, the engineers discovered how Leedskalnin had centered and balanced it. He had drilled a hole from top to bottom and inserted a metal shaft. The rock rested on an old truck bearing
Bearing (mechanical)
A bearing is a device to allow constrained relative motion between two or more parts, typically rotation or linear movement. Bearings may be classified broadly according to the motions they allow and according to their principle of operation as well as by the directions of applied loads they can...

. It was the rust
Rust
Rust is a general term for a series of iron oxides. In colloquial usage, the term is applied to red oxides, formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture...

ing out of this bearing that resulted in the gate's failure to revolve. Complete with new bearings and shaft, it was set back into place on July 23, 1986. It failed in 2005 and was again repaired, however it does not rotate with the same ease it once did.

Claims

The structure is considered mysterious by some who have claimed that Leedskalnin constructed the castle using some unknown form of science, however, these claims have not been rigorously analyzed by either engineers or scientists, and such theories seem to be discounted by evidence, such as photographs showing Leedskalnin working, apparently using traditional methods like block and tackle
Block and tackle
A block and tackle is a system of two or more pulleys with a rope or cable threaded between them, usually used to lift or pull heavy loads.The pulleys are assembled together to form blocks so that one is fixed and one moves with the load...

.

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
Esotericism
Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

 or engineering terms.

In popular culture

Billy Idol
Billy Idol
William Michael Albert Broad , better known by his stage name Billy Idol, is an English rock musician. A member of the Bromley Contingent of Sex Pistols fans, Idol first achieved fame in the punk rock era as a member of the band Generation X...

 wrote and recorded the song "Sweet Sixteen" and filmed the video in the Coral Castle. The song was inspired by the story of Leedskalnin's former love, Agnes Scuffs, who purportedly was the main reason Leedskalnin built the structure.

Scott Mitchell Putesky
Scott Putesky
Scott Mitchell Putesky , more famously known as Daisy Berkowitz, is an American musician, and was the lead guitarist and co-founder of the heavy metal group Marilyn Manson...

, former guitarist for Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson (band)
Marilyn Manson is an American metal band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Formed in 1989 by Brian Warner and Scott Putesky, the group was originally named Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids with their uniquely theatrical performances gathering a local cult following in the early '90s. This attention...

 (as Daisy Berkowitz
Scott Putesky
Scott Mitchell Putesky , more famously known as Daisy Berkowitz, is an American musician, and was the lead guitarist and co-founder of the heavy metal group Marilyn Manson...

), named his first solo project Three Ton Gate as a tribute to the massive coral gate at the park's entrance.

Contemporary Christian artist Andrew Peterson recorded a song entitled "The Coral Castle" as an unrequited love song from the point of view of Edward. It can be found on his album "Carried Along
Carried Along
Carried Along is the second album by American singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson, released in 2000.-Track listing:All songs by Andrew Peterson unless otherwise noted.# "All The Way Home" – 4:52# "The Chasing Song" – 3:43...

".

The New York-based band Piñataland
Piñataland
Piñataland is a Brooklyn-based musical group created by David Wechsler and Doug Stone. Their songs are often about obscure historical events and people, including, among others:*The pygmy Ota Benga...

 wrote a song about Leedskalnin and the Coral Castle, called "Latvian Bride".

The Wild Women of Wongo
Wild Women of Wongo
The Wild Women of Wongo is a 1958 American film directed by James L. Wolcott, featuring low budget, stereotypical portrayals of fictional tropical islanders. The movie was released on DVD in 2004.- Plot summary :...

used the Coral Castle for their dragon-god temple in the eponymous 1958 film.

The 1961 Doris Wishman
Doris Wishman
Doris Wishman was an American film director, screenwriter and independent film producer....

 film Nude on the Moon
Nude on the Moon
Nude on the Moon is a 1961 sexploitation film co-written and co-directed by Doris Wishman and Raymond Phelan under the shared pseudonyms "O. O. Miller" and "Anthony Brooks". The film was produced in 1960 but was not released theatrically until 1961. Doris Wishman went on to become a significant ...

used the Coral Castle as the "moon" scene for the moon people's home.

Cuban-American author Daína Chaviano
Daína Chaviano
Daina Chaviano is a Cuban writer.She is considered one of the three most important female fantasy and science fiction writers in the Spanish language, along with Angélica Gorodischer and Elia Barceló , forming the so-called “feminine trinity of science fiction in Latin America.”In Cuba, she...

 has dedicated a whole chapter to Coral Castle in her novel The Island of Eternal Love
The Island of Eternal Love
The Island of Eternal Love is a novel by Cuban author Daína Chaviano.The plot is a family saga that takes place along two parallel lines: one during our time and another that begins in the 1850s....

(Riverhead Books/Penguin Group, 2008).

Coral Castle was the subject an episode of Leonard Nimoy's program In Search of.... The episode, "The Castle of Secrets (a.k.a. Coral Castle)" was episode 16 of season 5; it included a re-enactment of Leedskalnin magically moving the stones.

External links


See also

  • Ferdinand Cheval
    Ferdinand Cheval
    Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman who spent thirty-three years of his life building Le Palais Idéal in Hauterives...

    : a similar self-made stone castle in France.
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