Castle – A different Miami attraction
Spending time with my mother is an annual ritual. She
is a snowbird who visits sunny South Florida once a
year, when we spend a day together. I call it our ‘bonding
time’. We look for something that is different,
unusual, fun, and easy for my 65-year-old mother. This
year, I picked the famous attraction in Miami called
the Coral Castle. I have known of this attraction for
years, but never had the desire to visit until a friend
of mine indicated how cool and different the place
is. I decided that it was a perfect choice for our
The drive to Coral
Castle gave my mother and I plenty of time to talk.
The journey from Ft. Lauderdale to
Miami took about an hour. We traveled via the turnpike
extension to Miami and then took exit # 5 (288th
St.). Off the exit we went right for two miles to
Avenue, and then turned right again. Finding the
Castle is a little tricky once you get off the turnpike.
is advisable to pay attention to the posted signs
directing traffic to the attraction.
Once we arrived, we headed into the Castle and immediately
We had a nice time
playing with the items that Ed had built. Who is
Ed? Edward Leedskalnin was born in Riga,
Latvia on August 10th, 1887. When Ed was 26 years
old he became engaged to be married to his true love,
Scuffs. Agnes was ten years younger than Ed. He affectionately
referred to Agnes as his ‘Sweet Sixteen’.
Unfortunately, Agnes cancelled the wedding just one
day before the ceremony.
Heartbroken and deeply
saddened by this tragic loss, Ed set out on a lifelong
quest to create a monument
to his lost love. This memorial has culminated into
one of the world’s most remarkable accomplishments.
Ed’s unusual creation is Coral Castle, originally
called ‘Rock Gate Park’. Ed single-handedly
built Coral Castle without any outside assistance or
large machinery. He carved and sculpted over 1,100
tons of coral rock as a testimony to his lost love,
Ed had lived in Canada,
California and Texas. Eventually, he developed a
touch of tuberculosis and decided to
move to a better climate to aid his condition. In
1918, he relocated to Florida City, Florida. He remained
in Florida City until about 1936. When Ed learned
an up and coming subdivision to be built near his
residence, he decided to find a more remote location
to call home.
In 1936, he discovered the city of Homestead and
bought ten acres of land. Ed spent the next three
coral rock 10-miles, from Florida City to Homestead,
Ed continued to live a very simple life; he did
not own a car. Instead, Ed would ride his bicycle
and a half miles into town for food and supplies
on a regular basis. How, then, did Ed move
the coral a
distance of 10 miles? Ed had the chassis of an old
Republic truck on which he laid two rails. He had
a friend with a tractor transport the loaded
back and forth from Florida City to Homestead.
Many people have witnessed
the coral carvings being moved along the Dixie Highway,
but no one has actually
ever seen, or reported seeing, Ed loading or unloading
the trailer. This could be due to the fact that Ed
did much of his work at night by lantern light. The
Coral Castle has numerous lookouts along the outside
walls that were designed to help protect Ed’s
privacy. These castle walls and gates represent his
private nature. In 1940, after his carvings were
in place, Ed finished erecting the walls. The coral
weigh approximately 125 pounds per cubic foot. Each
section of wall is eight feet tall, four feet wide,
three foot thick, and weighs more than 58 tons!
What makes Ed’s work even more remarkable is
the fact that he was just over five feet tall and weighed
only 100 pounds. The coral that he worked on was sometimes
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 in order to cut and move these
If anyone ever questioned
Ed about how he moved the blocks of coral, Ed would
simply reply that he understood
the laws of weight and leverage well. He even built
an AC Current generator! These accomplishments came
from a man with only a fourth grade education. His
incredible feats truly need to be witnessed in person
in order to be appreciated. There is no record of
anyone observing Ed carving in Florida City, or in
He has baffled engineers and scientists! People have
compared Ed’s secret method of construction
to Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids.
The only written records
Ed left to posterity are five pamphlets that he wrote.
Book in Every Home contains Ed’s thoughts on
3 subjects. In addition, he wrote Sweet Sixteen, Domestic,
and Political Views, three pamphlets on Magnetic Current,
and Mineral, Vegetable and Animal Life, which contains
his beliefs on the cycle of life. These pamphlets are
available only in the Coral Castle's gift shop.
In December 1951 Ed
became ill. He put a sign on the door of his Castle
saying ‘Going to the Hospital’.
He took a bus to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Three days later he died in his sleep at the age of
After his death, a
nephew living in Michigan inherited the Castle. In
1953, shortly before his death, the
nephew sold the Castle to a family from Illinois.
During the take-over, a box of Ed’s personal effects
was found. It contained a set of instructions that
led to the discovery of Ed’s life savings, thirty-five
100-dollar bills. Ed earned this money by providing
tours for between ten and twenty-five cent, throughout
his time at the Castle. He also made money from the
sale of his pamphlets, as well as the sale of the land
where U.S. Highway 1 passes the Castle.
It took Ed from 1923-1951
to build this amazing structure. Edward Leedskalnin’s life achievement, Coral
Castle, is an undying testimony of his great love for
Agnes Scuffs. To some, the only other tribute that
can compare to Coral Castle is the Taj Mahal. It was
built for the lost love of a king. Over twenty years
and several thousand slaves built the Taj Mahal, a
monument to the King’s wife. The difference is
that Ed labored, solo, for twenty-eight years working
on this astonishing masterpiece. He was a common man
who touched the lives of all whom met him in an uncommon
way. This humble yet unique man persevered in order
to pay tribute to love. His physical tribute will astonish
all that visit Coral Castle.
This is Ed’s story. Forever carved in stone,
the Coral Castle is a timeless beauty that defines
Ed’s undying love for his ‘Sweet Sixteen’.
Ed’s stone tribute to Agnes Scuffs, carved by
his own two hands will forever inspire romance in all
those that choose to visit the monumental Coral Castle.
It did my mother. Ed and my mother are both romantics
at heart. It was easy for my mother to embrace the
spirit of the building.
We had fun with the
items in the house, such as the Bedroom, the Florida
Table, and the Nine Ton Gate.
Certainly, all visitors to the Castle will be rewarded
with the creative handiwork of Ed. More importantly,
this story will hopefully inspire sons and daughters
from around the world to spend quality time with
their parents. Since our visit, my mother has been
with lung cancer. I don’t know how her situation
will turn out, but I am grateful that we had that day
together at the Coral Castle. It brought smiles to
our faces, and will be a day that will last in our
28655 South Dixie Highway
Miami, FL 33033
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