"" Writer's Wanderings: Coral Castle--The Tower, The Gate and The Tourists

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Coral Castle--The Tower, The Gate and The Tourists

While all the furniture it seemed Ed Leedskalnin would need he made out of coral rock, his tower housed his bed and a few other necessities. While we couldn't go up the sixteen stairs (carved from a single stone) which some think are for his sweet sixteen almost bride, I have seen pictures of the bed he used. It was a few board wrapped in burlap and suspended by chains from the ceiling and had a pulley that allowed him to raise the bed out of his way when not in use.

The first floor of the tower contains the tools that are left with which he did his work. Apparently some were stolen after his death before the castle was secured. 

Also in the tower was a radio made by Ed out of copper wire and mason jars. While at that time period there were not many choices of stations to listen to, Ed was able to zero in on a few with his primitive set up. Because there was always suspicion and mystery surrounding him, some thought he might have been communicating with the Russians during the war using the radio. 

The nine ton gate used to move at
the touch of a finger.

He had a small "perpetual motion machine" as he called it that was really a generator using magnets and round flywheel he rigged from old car parts. It was part of his work with electromagnetism. Some believed it could generate enough electricity to help in the lifting of his huge coral rocks.

Somehow Ed could figure out the perfect balance of his coral rocks. Two of the greatest examples are a small rotating gate and the larger nine ton doorlike gate at the rear of the castle. Ed found the center balance of the huge stone, cut a hole down the middle and inserted a rod through it. The rod balanced on a bunch of ball bearings from an old Model T Ford that sat on a pie shaped wedge at the bottom. For over 50 years, that nine ton gate could turn with the push of a single finger. I've included a short video below from YouTube that shows it turning. 

In November of 1951, Ed checked himself into the hospital suffering from a kidney infection. He died on December 7, 1951 from what was described as kidney failure and a stroke, a cerebral hemorrhage. His only next of kin in the US was a nephew, Harry Leedskalnin, who lived in Detroit. While it was bequeathed to him, he had no money to run it or even to pay the taxes on the property. Eventually it was sold to Julius Levin who discovered the castle on the property he purchased without knowledge of its existence.

Levin fell in love with the castle, cleaned out all the overgrowth, did some landscaping and once again opened it to visitors. At the time someone who helped him run it began to collect affidavits from those who had known Ed Leedskalnin or visited the castle when he gave tours. Some of those people are featured in the video at the beginning of the tour. It was Levin who dropped the Rock Gate Park name and called it only Coral Castle, something more attractive and attention-getting for tourists.

In 1981, Levin whose health was failing sold the castle to Coral Castle, Inc. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1984 and is still a work of wonder for any who enter its gate.  

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