"" Writer's Wanderings: The Coral Castle

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Coral Castle

 Since this is the last year for us to stay in Key Largo I wanted to be sure we didn't miss seeing the Coral Castle in Homestead. We never seemed to get around to it before. I'm so glad we didn't miss the chance. Now, where do I begin?

The Castle is really not a castle in the usual sense. You might call it an open air castle. Everything in it is made of coral rock quarried from the area around it. The whole thing was built by Ed Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant who arrived in the states around 1912. Much of his life is a mystery as is the amazing feat of constructing his castle.

Ed started out on the east coast, moved up into Canada and over to the Canadian Rockies. From there he got involved in the logging business in the Northwest, or so researchers believe. His heritage however was that of stonemason and had been handed down for generations. 

This is not a moat. It's the quarry.

Somehow he managed to make his way to Florida. Many believe it was because he had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and he was seeking sunshine and fresh air as a cure. By the time he reached southern Florida he was emaciated and weak. He wasn't a big man to begin with although it seems he tried to appear so with filling in some of his immigration documents and others with his height at 5'6" or 5'9". Anyone who saw him in person would say he was only around 5' and 120 pounds at best.

Sometime in 1922 or 1923 a man from Florida City, Ruben Moser, found Ed lying alongside the road. He revived him and brought him to his home where Ed lived in the tool shed for a time and Moser's wife and daughter ministered to him until he was back on his feet. 

It is believed that either Ed made a miraculous recovery or his diagnosis of tuberculosis was wrong. Back in the 1920s TB was a death sentence. No matter, he recovered enough to purchase two acres of land from Moser that was not fit for farming and that is where he started his original coral castle. 

Ed's tools.

The castle, he told everyone, was a work of love or rather a lost love. The story is that he was left at the altar by his sixteen year old bride. Heartbroken but unable to put it behind him, he made his way to the States and eventually to Florida to begin building his castle for her. Speculation is that Agnes, the name he called her, was perhaps not real or it was a fictitious name for someone else he'd loved (maybe the Moser daughter?). Others say he built the castle hoping to entice Agnes to join him. 

Whatever the case, he quarried, carved, and erected all that is the Coral Castle today and even moved his original pieces from Florida City all on his own. A five foot, 120 pound man, all by himself--except it turns out that he hired a truck to move some of the pieces since he couldn't drive. His engineering skills were unique, so much so that to this day it is difficult to say just how he managed it all with tools made from junk cars and a primitive block and tackle, pulleys, and wedges to lift the heavy stones all weighing tons.

Some believe he had the help of the supernatural. Someone once reported him walking with a divining rod like you use to find water but could also be used to detect magnetic pulls in the earth. Because of the mystery surrounding the construction and the unique function of the pieces, the Castle has been featured on believe it or not type shows as well as those associated with alien visits. I prefer to think the man was a remarkable engineer, artist and craftsman but then one point of the Bermuda Triangle is not far off.

More pictures and stories about the furnishings to follow. Stay tuned. 

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...