Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Coral Castle: A Place of Romance and Mystery

By Amber Schamel

What an honor to be a part of the HHHistory team! Today I'm filling in for Martha Rogers, but I will be blogging with ya'll on the 2nd of each month starting in March.

Since it's almost Valentine's day, I thought I'd blog on something romantic. 
In January my family and I took a vacation to Florida. While we were there, we visited a very interesting, but often unheard of attraction. They call it Coral Castle. 

Before I go into the interesting and mysterious parts of the castle itself, there's a story you must know. 

Romance & Heartbreak

Ed Leedskalnin
Ed Leedskalnin was born in 1887 in Latvia, a small country in Northern Europe, right next to Russia and Lithuania. He was a stone mason, like his father before him. When he was 26 years old, he met and fell madly in love with a sixteen year old girl named Agnes Scuffs. He convinced her to marry him, and a date was set.

Just one day before the wedding, Ed's "Sweet Sixteen" called off the wedding. She would never marry him, she said. Ed was crushed. So deep was his grief, that he left his native country of Latvia and journeyed to the United States where he settled near Miami Florida. Here, he began to build one of the modern world's greatest mysteries, a tribute to his lost love. 

Eccentric, NOT crazy. 

Ed was a small man, about five foot tall, and weighing in at less than 100 lbs. His small size didn't keep him from doing big things. He settled in a place where there was much coral that had turned to stone. He excavated this stone by himself, and used it to carve stones and build his castle. He built his first castle around 1923, but later moved to another location that was closer to the population base around 1939. 

Ed was a very interesting fellow, though somewhat strange. But he attested that he was not crazy. Eccentric, yes, but not crazy.  At the entrance to the castle, he has a sign that says "You will be seeing an unusual accomplishment." He had a bell, with a sign that instructed the visitor to ring twice if they wanted a tour. If they failed to follow the instructions, he would either ignore them, or yell over the wall: "Go away. You can't follow directions and you might break something."

A Wonder of the Modern World

A map of the Coral Castle sculptures - Click to enlarge

From his background as a stone mason, Ed had great knowledge of stone, leverage and such, but that still doesn't account for the amazing sights at Coral Castle. The entire castle is made up of the Coral Stone and scraps that he picked up from junkyards. He created a wall around the castle to start,  he erected a tower in one corner for his living quarters and tools, and the rest of the courtyard was somewhat of a playground for him. He built tables, chairs, a sundial, a self heating bath, rock telescopes, models of the planets, an obelisk and much more.

The 9 Ton Gate

Ed had two gates to his castle, both made of large stones that were so perfectly balanced that you could push the stones like a revolving door with only one finger. One gate was 3 tons, the other made of a 9 ton stone. We're talking TONS here. 

The entire castle was built with his "Sweet Sixteen" in mind. He always made things in sets of three. One for him, one for Agnes, and one for the child that they would have. Ed dreamed that one day, Agnes would come across the ocean, agree to finally marry him, and they would live happily ever after in his Coral Castle. 

Below, we see the Feast of Love table. "We men are forgetful." Ed said, "I may forget to buy her a Valentine, so I built her one out of stone so that she will always have a valentine from me." The flowers at the center were her favorite kind, until they recently died and were replaced. "I am too poor to buy her flowers all the time, so I planted them here so that she will have flowers every day."
Somebody say, "AWWWWWW!!!!"
Feast of Love Table

Here's something interesting, if your sweetheart proposes to you in front of this table of love, and you accept,  they will let you have your wedding at the castle. According to their website, they are also doing a renewal of the vows at the castle for couples on Valentines day. (Hint, hint to anyone who lives near Miami!)

You might be wondering, did Anges ever know that poor Ed had come out here and built a castle for her with his own hands? The answer, sadly, is yes. Someone once asked her if she knew about the castle, and if she knew that he'd built it all for her. She replied, "Yes, but I didn't want to marry him then. And I don't want to marry him now." *Sniff, sniff* Poor Ed! Doesn't that just tear your heart out?

Ed's Obelisk
To the right is a picture of the obelisk that Ed built. Guess how much it weighs. 28 tons.The heaviest stone in the castle is 30 tons. TONS, people! I was amazed.

How on earth did one man, one very small man, carve and move those rocks by himself? That remains a mystery. He worked only at night, or when people could not see him. If people would show up, he would stop working. "When you leave, I can get back to work." He would say. There are many theories about how he built this fantastic castle. Some say Aliens came and told him how to build it, helping him with their anti-gravitation devices. Others say that it was just sheer leverage. I personally find that difficult to believe. 

Ed studied a lot about magnets and the magnetic force and had even managed to create a magnetic generator. Some believe that he somehow used his knowledge of magnets to levitate the stones. This seems more probable to me. 

There is a lot more I could say about the Coral Castle, but this post is already long. Maybe we can do that another time.
The only picture of Ed building the castle. See that little guy down there at the bottom? Ya, that's Ed.

So how does Ed's story end? His castle became quite an attraction, and folks would pay him for tours. He lived very simply in an upstairs part of the corner tower. He did this until he fell ill in December of 1951. He left a sign on the castle door that said "going to hospital." He died three days later at the age of 64. Ed never married.

Still today, Ed's legacy lives on. The Coral Castle became a National Historic Place in 1984. It is a very romantic, yet mysterious tribute to his lost love. Kinda reminds me of the Taj Mahal, although that story was a little happier.

What is the most romantic sight you've ever visited?


Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to Life. She is the author of the Samuel Adams series in the Declaration of Independence anthology.
Connect with Amber on her website, blog, or other major social media sites. 


  1. What an interesting place. I've never heard of it. I can't imagine how one man could build something some massive out of stone. He was one determined man.

    1. It was a very interesting place, Vickie! It really blows my mind to think about how he did it. Some say they saw him floating the stones to where he wanted them. That's one of the things that makes me think it was magnetic.

  2. We saw the sign for this while touring in FL. But thought it was a tourist trap! We should have seen it. Sm. Wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Too bad you missed it, Sharon. I guess it gives you a good excuse to take another vacation. ;)
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Yea! Amber! So nice to read you on here. This is one of my favorite blogs.

    1. Thank you, Sandy! I'm so honored to be a part of this fantastic blog.

  4. Amber, thank lyou so much for filling in for me yesterday. My brain was mush last week and I had no idea how I would put together my information to make an intelligible post. Welcome to our group. It's good to have you here. Like Vickie, I've never heard of this place, but it looks and sounds fascinating. As many times as we went to Florida to visit my husband's sister, we never heard about this place. Makes me want to go back and visit. Thanks again.

    1. Martha, it was my pleasure. I hope that you are healing quickly and feeling better every day. I will continue to remember you in prayer.

  5. So glad to know you are joining HHH, Amber! Thank you for sharing this fascinating post. I had not heard of Coral Castle and am very intrigued!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

    1. Britney! So good to see you here too! Glad you enjoyed the post. :)