South Florida Has a Renowned 100-Year-Old Castle That's Still a Mystery to Many

The mystery of Coral Castle has baffled scientists, engineers, and scholars since its opening in 1923. How did one man manage to sculpt coral walls weighing 125 pounds per cubic foot?

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There's a historic landmark in Homestead that remains a mystery as visitors attempt to figure out how one man carved over 1,100 tons of coral rock into a castle that still stands today.

Nestled between the Florida Keys and Miami is the astounding Coral Castle, a monument that is referred by some as America’s Stonehenge.

"There are some people who have no idea about it," Coral Castle Tour Guide Andrea Llano said. "I mean they live across the street and they say: what is that thing over there?"

The Coral Castle has baffled scientists, engineers, and scholars since its opening in 1923. How was one man — who was only 5 feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds — able to sculpt coral walls weighing 125 pounds per cubic foot? 

The Coral Castle was created by Edward Leedskalnin who was born in Riga, Latvia on August 10, 1887.

"He was an odd guy, but look at what he did," Llano said. "Everybody was intrigued and admired him from a distance."

As the story goes, when Ed was 26 years old, he proposed to his one true love: Agnes Scuffs.

Agnes was ten years younger than Ed, and when the wedding day come around, she decided to call it off one day before the ceremony.

With his heart broken, Ed decided to come to the United States where he worked in the coal mines.

Working in the mines led Ed to develop a touch of tuberculosis, which is when he decided to move to a better climate to help his condition.

Ed moved to Homestead in 1936 and bought 10 acres of land. He then spent the next three years moving the Coral Castle structures he had already begun to build from Florida City to Homestead — a distance of 10 miles.

Coral Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and it is listed under its original name of Rock Gate Park.

"He made two castles. This is the only one remaining because he brought all the pieces from the first castle to this one, so that alone is impressive," Llano said.

In 1940, after the carvings were in place, Ed finished erecting the walls. The coral walls weigh 125 pounds per cubic foot.

Each section of the walls is 8 feet tall, 4 feet wide, 3 feet thick, and weighs more than 5.8 tons.

The true mystery is how exactly Ed moved the blocks of coral. Whenever he was asked, he would say that he understood the laws of weight and leverage well.

His methods continue to baffle engineers and scientists, and Ed’s secrets of construction have often been compared to Stonehenge and the great pyramids.

"It's just amazing what somebody can do when they put their mind to it," said first-time visitor Penny Lester. "It's really amazing to see this part of Florida and the way the coral comes out of the earth."

The castle is open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and offers guided tours.

The entry fee is $18 for adults and $8 for children ages 7 to 12.

It makes Llano happy to give tours and inform visitors of Ed's life and the magic he left behind at his castle.

"I think he would be proud to see his legacy has been continued through time and to see that he is known in history," she said.

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