Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida, is one of the most amazing structures ever built. In terms of accomplishment, it's been compared to Stonehenge, ancient Greek temples, and even the great pyramids of Egypt. It is amazing - some even say miraculous - because it was quarried, fashioned, transported, and constructed by one man: Edward Leedskalnin, a 5-ft. tall, 100-lb. Latvian immigrant.
Many men have single-handedly built their own homes, but Leedskalnin's choice of building materials is what makes his undertaking so incredible. He used huge blocks of coral rock, some weighing as much as 30 tons, and somehow was able to move them and set them in place without assistance or the use of modern machinery. And therein lies the mystery. How did he do it?
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.
Working alone, Leedskalnin 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.
Next page: How did he do it?