Feb. 1, 2008 -- Like the ancient wonders of Stonehenge or the Great Pyramids of Egypt, there is an incredible and mysterious creation right here in the United States.
Coral Castle, in Homestead, Fla., just south of Miami, is an intricate rock garden made of enormous pieces of coral, many of them weighing several tons.
But more amazingly, Coral Castle was built entirely by one man — Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin, who stood just 5 feet tall and weighed 100 pounds. To this day, no one knows how he did it.
Monument to Lost Love
Leedskalnin was jilted by his 16-year-old fiancee Agnes Scuffs in Latvia just days before the wedding. Heartbroken and hoping to win Scuffs back, Leedskalnin traveled to the United States in 1923 and dedicated his life to building a monument to her, which he called Rock Gate Park. It was a project that he continued to work on until his death in 1951.
The castle is an extraordinary feat of engineering, and experts have puzzled over how Leedskalnin, who only had a fourth-grade education, constructed Coral Castle by himself. He reportedly did all of the work in the dark of night, in order to keep his secrets.
For example, how did this little man build a 9-ton coral gate constructed so precisely that you can push it open using one finger?
The castle also has a 40-foot tall, 28-ton obelisk, a sun dial that still keeps perfect time and a Polaris telescope that is perfectly aligned with the North Star.
Leedskalnin lived a reclusive, self-contained life at the castle — he built a water well, a fountain, a barbecue and several pieces of furniture, including an enormous heart-shaped table, 25 rocking chairs, a bathtub, beds and a 5,000-pound throne.
Did Aliens Help Him Build It?
There are many theories on how Leedskalnin accomplished this amazing feat. Some say he had help from extraterrestrials, others believe he discovered the secrets behind anti-gravity and levitation.
Leedskalnin was a self-taught expert on magnetic currents, and one theory holds that he positioned the site to be perfectly aligned with Earth's poles to eliminate the forces of gravity, allowing him to move stones weighing several tons each.
Even Albert Einstein couldn't figure it out, says Jon Pasturing, an engineer who visited Coral Castle as a child.
Pasturing has also wondered how Leedskalnin did it, but he rules out extraterrestrials and magnetics.
Pasturing believes Leedskalnin employed a basic engineering principle, block and tackle, which uses a pulley system to hoist heavy objects into place.
"You can move a 20-ton rock if you have enough of a sophisticated block-and-tackle system," Pasturing said.
Old photos seem to back the idea. They show Leedskalnin raising stones with a giant pulley, and another pulley was found in his tool shed.
Leedskalnin took those secrets to his grave, but Coral Castle stands as a magical gift he gave to world.
If You Want to Visit Coral Castle
Find out more about Coral Castle by visiting www.CoralCastle.com
For more information on Homestead, Fla., visit the city's Web site by clicking here www.CityofHomestead.com
To find hotel, restaurant and sightseeing reviews to help plan your trip to the Homestead/Miami area, visit www.Fodors.com