Odd Emerald

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Eddie the mad genius

Coral Castle & PMH eddie-the-mad-genius

– Was Ed Leedskalnin an ordinary man who accomplished an extraordinary feat, or an ordinary man with an extraordinary secret?

If he had been an ordinary man, Coral Castle would not exist, but who was he? And why did he spend his life building the fabulous monument that still excites imaginations long after his death?

The details of Ed Leedskalnin’s life are pretty well known. A reclusive Latvian immigrant with only a minimal formal education, Ed left Latvia after being rejected by his fiancee on the day before their wedding was to take place. He came to the United States and worked at various jobs both in the U.S. and in Canada before being diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Florida’s climate offered the possibility of some relief for Ed’s TB condition, and he moved to Florida City in 1918. He first built a log home to live in, and started work on his “Rock Gate Park” in 1920. And it was here that Ed’s extraordinary tale really begins.

Ed Leedskalnin’s family were stonemasons, so it might seem quite natural that he would choose to build his next structure of stone. And it also might seem natural that Ed, only about 5 feet tall and weighing a bit over 100 pounds, and with a chronic health problem, would hire workmen to help him build what became known as the Coral Castle. But that is not what Ed did.

Not only did Ed Leedskalnin work alone to quarry and move coral blocks weighing as much as 28 tons or more, but he absolutely refused to allow anyone to watch him work. He worked only at night, and if he believed someone was watching, Ed simply stopped work or went to another part of his project. Even so, a few stories circulated about Ed and his methods. In each story, the witnesses claimed that the rocks appeared to be moving by themselves, or that Ed placed his hands on the stones and sang to them. These stories all point to the idea that Ed Leedskalnin either had learned the secret of levitation, or that he was somehow able to use a force that only he understood to cause the rocks to move without the use of heavy equipment.

And when Ed decided to move the entire structure to a new site in Homestead, Florida in 1936, the only help he needed was a truck driver, since he himself did not drive. Ed refused offers of help, but it was said that each day when the driver showed up at his place, the trailer was already loaded and waiting.

Ed himself contributed to the air of mystery surrounding the castle and his building methods. He made a little extra money by giving tours of his creation, and was quite willing to talk about the sculptures themselves. But when asked how he had built them, he would only say, “It’s not difficult really. The secret is in knowing how.” And when asked why he built it, his answer was, “Someday my Sweet Sixteen will come.” His answer has been interpreted to mean that he had built it hoping that somehow his lost love would return to him, although some researchers are inclined to read other meanings into that simple statement.

The answers to Ed Leedskalnin’s extraordinary achievements may well lie hidden in a series of five booklets he wrote and sold. He wrote in one, “I have discovered the secrets of the pyramids, and have found out how the Egyptians and the ancient builders in Peru, Yucatan and Asia, with only primitive tools, raised and set in place blocks of stone weighing many tons!” Ed maintained that scientists do not actually understand the principles of magnetism and electricity, and in his booklets he details experiments designed to show his understanding of the true properties of magnets and electrical currents.

Ed Leedskalnin died in a hospital in Miami in 1951 at the age of 64. After his death, visitors to the Coral Castle found only a few hand tools and Ed’s collection of old car parts and other odd things he had collected over the years. And while a photograph exists of Ed standing next to a tripod which might have been used to lift heavy objects, it was not found. There was, however, a peculiar device in his workshop, described as resembling a large flywheel with bar magnets attached with concrete. It may, in fact, be the “perpetual motion” device Ed described in one of his pamphlets, although how it might have been used remains a mystery.

It has been estimated that Ed Leedskalnin single-handedly quarried, moved, and set into place more than 1,000 tons of stone over a period of some 28 years. He created the building itself, a gigantic wall enclosure topped with sculptures, and even furniture, all of stone. Two of the most famous of his sculptures are a gate weighing nine tons that is so perfectly balanced that it can be swung open with only a single finger to push it, and a three-ton stone rocking chair that can be moved just as easily.

Does Ed’s achievement prove that an ordinary man can achieve extraordinary things, or was he an extraordinary man who managed to hide behind an ordinary facade? No matter what you believe about Ed Leedskalnin, Coral Castle remains as the extraordinary legacy of an otherwise ordinary man.

Coral Castle is privately owned but open to tours. It is located on the South Dixie Highway near Homestead, Florida.

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This entry was posted on November 9, 2013 by in Tech & Energy and tagged , , , .

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