Fortress of Solitude

There are a great many roadside oddities in America, often associated with equally odd people. One such dyad I’ve only just learned of is the Coral Castle, in Homestead, Florida.

This strange creation is the work of one eccentric recluse: a Latvian expatriate by the name of Edward Leedskalnin, who died in 1953. According to Wikipedia:

Edward Leedskalnin was jilted by his 16-year-old fiancée Agnes Scuffs in Latvia, just one day before the wedding. Leaving for America, he came down with terminal tuberculosis but spontaneously healed, stating that magnets had some effect on his disease.

Hoping to somehow impress Scuffs, he spent over 28 years building the Coral Castle, refusing to allow anyone to view him while he worked. A few teenagers, who claimed to have witnessed his work, reported that he had caused the blocks of coral to move like hydrogen balloons. The only tool that Leedskalnin spoke of using was a “perpetual motion holder.”

The castle is built of enormous slabs of limestone, some weighing as much as 25 tons. The megaliths were quarried on-site by the slightly built Leedskalnin, and nobody knows how he moved them about and set them in place. When, after his death, an enormous swiveling gate that was so perfectly balanced as to swing at the push of a finger finally became stuck, it took a crew of workmen and a large crane to dismantle it for repairs.

There are suggestions that Mr. Leedskalnin, who preferred to spend his time alone, had rediscovered some exotic and long-forgotten secrets of electricity and magnetism. Indeed he hinted at this himself, and wrote some cryptic pamphlets alluding to arcane natural principles. A fellow by the name of John dePew has created a quirky website devoted to unraveling Mr. Leedskalnin’s puzzling legacy; readers with a fondness for such things can find it here.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Radford, managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, had this to say in a recent article:

Many mystery mongers arrogantly assume that those living in earlier times (such as Leedskalnin, or the ancient Egyptians) were not clever or resourceful enough to possibly have created impressive engineering feats without extraterrestial aid or mysterious powers. This view betrays an ignorance of history and sadly underestimates human ingenuity. It seems likely that if scientists haven’t explained the Coral Castle specifically, it’s because there’s little to “explain.” The Coral Castle mystery seems to be simply a matter of poorly-informed people who reject a mundane reality in favor of a fanciful myth.

Which rather spoils the fun, of course.

Read the Wikipedia article, with links to other references, here.

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