There are numerous anomalous constructions throughout the world that have managed to remain enigmatic and perplex us since time unremembered. The Pyramids, Stonehenge, and many others like these have long incited speculation, debate, and countless conspiracy theories. Such mysterious constructions are not merely a feature of the ancient world, and indeed one of the oddest cases of an anomalous structure that no one can figure out comes to us from the modern day, when an eccentric loner managed to singlehandedly build one of the most puzzling engineering mysteries of our time.
The whole strange story begins with a man named Edward Leedskalnin, who was born in the country of Latvia in 1887. Brought up in a dirt poor family, Leedskalnin was rather uneducated, only ever achieving the equivalent of around a 4th grade education, and this may have been one of the reasons that the girl he had planned to marry and start a life with suddenly up and dumped him. By all accounts this devastated the then 26-year-old man, who in dejection decided to leave everything behind and start a new life over in the United States in the early 1920s.
His first destination was the town of Reedsport, Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, but the cold weather did not agree with him, and he also came down with a case of tuberculosis while there. At this time his eccentricity would start to show, as he would claim that he made a full recovery from the disease by using magnets to stimulate his immune system and banish the sickness. Seeking a warmer climate and happier times, Leedskalnin would then move to Florida City, in Miami-Dade County, Florida, where he would buy a remote, undeveloped plot of land to call home, and it was here that he would begin an ambitious project that he would at first call “The Rock Gate.” It was a project that was to last 28 years, and go on to become one of the most bizarre architectural conundrums in the world.
Over the course of the next few decades, Leedskalnin slowly but surely meticulously erected an intricate structure composed of over 1,100 tons of oolite limestone, which he quarried and moved all by himself, without any help. Puzzlingly, the epic slabs of stone that comprised the structure are on average 14 tons of solid rock each, with some weighing all the way up to 27 tons, all of which were precisely and seamlessly connected without the use of any sort of cement or mortar, and the whole thing surrounded by sheer rock walls 8 feet high, with two monoliths erected of towering stones measuring 25 feet tall each.
The strange part is that Leedskalnin did all of the quarrying, carving, and moving of the stones completely by himself, often in the dead of night when no one was around to watch him, and he always stopped if anyone came around. He was also not a large man, standing only 5 feet tall and weighing around 100 pounds, and with his 4th grade education no one could figure out how he was doing it. Things got even more impressive when his sprawling construction was interrupted by the building of a subdivision nearby. A recluse who loved nothing better than his privacy, instead of putting up with the troublesome intrusion Leedskalnin instead opted to have the whole thing moved piece by massive piece to Homestead, Florida, a full 10 miles away. To do this he used a friend’s truck, but at no point did he have any help, always working alone.
This relocation would take 3 years, after which the eccentric and secretive Leedskalnin commenced his obsessive construction of what would go on to be called “The Coral Castle” with renewed vigor. By the time the vast and complex structure was finished, a full 28 years later, it was considered to be a modern architectural marvel. The whole castle was two stories high, featured living quarters and a throne room with enormous stone thrones, a sundial, a Polaris telescope, a 40-foot-high obelisk, turrets, towers, a water fountain, an expansive garden full of sculptures, and a 9-ton revolving gate standing 8-feet high and smooth enough in action that it was said that even a child could easily push it open. It is all meticulously crafted, virtually free of imperfections or chisel marks, and mostly comprised of immensely heavy stones that would be hard for a team of men with advanced equipment to move, let alone one tiny, uneducated man with only crude tools at his disposal. It is all a marvel of engineering that has managed to astound architects, engineers, and scientists to this day.
It is this conundrum that caused all manner of rumors to spread as the odd man toiled away on his structure, and there were claims that he had mastered some sort of mystical reverse magnetism or similar such supernatural power that allowed him to actually levitate the gigantic rocks. This particular rumor was fueled by supposed sightings of Leedskalnin levitating massive slabs of stone as if they were balloons, or placing his hands on them and singing to them to make them lighter, although such stories are far from substantiated. Others believed that his property sat on a mysterious vortex or portal of some type, and that the blocks were actually teleported from place to place or subjected to antigravity forces, or that he had developed some new and amazing technology that allowed him to move and craft the rocks, possibly even alien technology according to some. There has even been the theory, posited in Ray Stoner’s book, The Enigma of Coral Castle, that the real reason the castle was moved was to get a better position over some sort of Earth energy line, where he would be more readily able to harness these strange forces to move the large blocks with greater ease.
For his part, Leedskalnin’s own eccentric and cryptic claims about how he did it did not help matters. At times he said that he could sense magnetic energy or mysterious earth energies, with him implying that he could manipulate them, as well as to use them to reduce the gravitational pull of the earth. On another occasion he claimed that he had re-discovered the laws of weight, measurement, and leverage, and that he was in possession of an unknown device that he called a “perpetual motion holder.” He also was known to answer the question of how he made the castle with the cryptic statement “It’s not difficult if you know how,” and he once boldly pronounced:
I have discovered the secrets of the pyramids, and have found out how the Egyptians and the ancient builders in Peru, Yucatan, and Asia, with only primitive tools, raised and set in place blocks of stone weighing many tons!
Even listening to the man’s own testimony it is hard to figure out exactly what is going on. Of course there are those who say that he had merely worked out a way to use complex leverage and pulley systems to help him in his endeavors, but how he could have done all of this on his own and without many resources, along with such a low level of education, no one knows. Edward Leedskalnin would never reveal how he had done it, taking the secrets to the grave with him in 1951, when he suddenly died of a kidney infection to leave the speculation and rumors swirling, having never divulged exactly how he had pulled this all off singlehandedly with only a few picks, winches, ropes and pulleys.
It is still not known exactly how this one man managed to accomplish this outrageous feat, and one example to illustrate just how impressive it all is was is the moving of the intimidating, enormous main gate in 1986. In order to move the gate so that it could be repaired it required six men and a 45 ton crane, something that the mysterious Leedskalnin had done all on his own without any modern equipment. How? No one really knows. Some people think it was just hard work and ingenuity, with one building contractor named Orval Irwin claiming to have personally witnessed portions of the castle’s construction and writing in his book Mr. Can’t Is Dead! The Story of the Coral Castle thus:
Back in the days when Ed started carving out his original stones. His was a generation who knew accomplishments by the sweat of the brow. It wasn’t mysticism but hard work, this is how Ed really accomplished the massive project.
No matter what the answer may be, Edward Leedskalnin’s coral castle has nevertheless gone on to confound scientists for decades, and is often likened to the mystery of the construction of the pyramids or of Stonehenge. The castle itself was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, and can be viewed today as a tourist attraction. It may never be fully understood just how or even why this one man made such a sprawling compound of gigantic, heavy rocks, and it may continue to be a bit of a mystery into the future, but whether it is due to magical powers, secret technology, or just pure grit, it is a fascinating and compelling tale all the same.