Coral Castle is the magnum opus of Edward Leedskalnin, and sits as a tribute to his life’s work in Homestead in far south Florida. Edward was born in Latvia in 1887. In 1913, he was engaged to marry the love of his life, but she called off the wedding at the last moment and never saw Ed again. Heartbroken, he moved to the new world, and took up work as a lumberjack and miner in several places around the US and Canada. Somewhere around 1919, he developed tuberculosis and moved to Florida for the warm air. He settled in Florida City and began work on his now infamous castle.

Ed hadn’t forgotten his former fiance, and worked to build this castle for her, in the hopes she might change her mind and come join him in Florida. Working mostly at night, for both the cool temperatures and privacy it provided, Ed slowly but methodically built this impressive structure over the next twenty years. In 1936, Ed bought a different plot of land in Homestead, and slowly moved his castle north, one piece at a time, and reassembled it in its current location. There he continued its construction until it was completed in 1940. The real marvel of the project are the 10 ton coral walls which he cut, moved and placed by himself in the middle of the night with only primitive tools and pulleys. He also built doors which weighed several tons and rested on ball bearings which allowed them to swivel easily using the pressure of just one finger. These doors gave the site the name which Ed called it in his time: Rock Gate Park. How exactly he moved and placed these giant pieces is still somewhat of a mystery, and one which he took with him to the grave. The man who built this impressive structure was only 5 feet tall and weighed in at a diminutive 120 pounds. He lived in his castle for the rest of his life, and offered tours to the general public, first for a dime and then later for a quarter. Today it will cost you $19 to tour the structure, a bit much in my opinion. For me though, I am always interested in seeing something which is a tribute to one person and their individual and unique dream.

Ed’s beloved never joined him in Florida, and in fact he never saw her again. Nor was he ever seen in the company of another lady. I hope he found peace in his work. He died at 64 years old in 1951.