The following is excerpted from my book “A Guide to the South’s Quirkiest Roadside Attractions,” which is sold exclusively in stores and online from Books-A-Millions. Purchase it here for $16.95. The book features sites in 11 Southern states. I visited the Coral Castle in 2005 with my Baby Girl, who was 12 at the time, and some friends.
The Mystery of the Coral Castle
How did one diminutive man move massive boulders of coral rock to create fairy-tale surroundings for the woman he loved? No one knows. But the proof is located in Homestead, Florida. Edward Leedskalnin, a native of Latvia, worked from 1923 to 1951 to build this odd coral structure in hopes of recapturing the heart of his beloved Agnes Scuffs, who had broken off their engagement.
It didn’t work, but Ed managed to create an everlasting roadside attraction. The mysterious part? The website says, “With no outside assistance or large machinery Ed single-handedly built the Coral Castle, carving and sculpting over 1,100 tons of coral rock, as a testimony to his lost love, Agnes. What makes Ed’s work remarkable is the fact that he was just over 5 feet tall and weighed only 100 pounds. In this part of Florida, the coral in some areas can be up to 4,000 feet thick. Incredibly, he cut and moved huge coral blocks using only hand tools. He had acquired some skills working in lumber camps and came from a family of stonemasons in Latvia. He drew on this knowledge and strength to cut and move these blocks.”
Because Ed worked at night, no one ever witnessed his labors. “When questioned about how he moved the blocks of coral, Ed would only reply that he understood the laws of weight and leverage well,” the online history explains. “This man with only a fourth-grade education even built an AC current generator, the remains of which are on display today. Because there are no records from witnesses his methods continue to baffle engineers and scientists, and Ed’s secrets of construction have often been compared to Stonehenge and the great pyramids.”
The Coral Castle
28655 South Dixie Highway, Homestead, FL 305-248-6345; Admission fee