Love can make men do some pretty crazy things. Ed Leedskalnin’s personal brand of love-crazy would have to be a bit more extreme than most folks.
The Isley Brothers and Michael Bolton agree on exactly three things, one of them being that love is a wonderful thing. Love, as wonderful as it may be, has been known to make a fellow do some strange things. It drove Menelaus to launch a campaign against the Trojans that lasted ten years. Love was why Lloyd Dobler held that boom box up outside of Diane Court’s house that one night. Love also was the reason why Ed Leedskalnin left his native Latvia and built the Coral Castle in Florida.
Who is Ed Leedskalnin? He was a pretty unassuming immigrant that arrived on the shores of the US shortly after being jilted the day before his wedding. His master plan for winning her back was to build a house completely out of fossilized coral. With no machine tools. And no help. By the way, he was only 5’ tall, 100 pounds, and had suffered through a bout of tuberculosis.
Allow me to quantify his accomplishment for those of you without a degree in Construction Science. One cubic foot of coral weighs 125 pounds. Just one section of the wall around his castle is eight feet tall, four feet wide, and three feet thick which would make them about 12,000 pounds each. Remember, the guy was consumptive.
So how did he do it? That’s the best part. No one knows. As the story goes, he did it completely on his own and no one ever witnessed him work on it.
The Castle seems to be equal parts observatory and love letter to Ed’s Sweet Sixteen. I found that one minute I was trying to get my head wrapped around the fact that the stones weren’t randomly positioned, two of them allowed Ed to track Polaris. The next, I was looking at something like The Bedroom, the group of stones to the right. Count them, three beds. One for the husband, one for the wife, and one in the back for a baby.
If you do plan to visit the Coral Castle, I recommend doing a little background research on it first. It takes up about an acre and it’s possible to run through it quickly without really looking at it and seeing some of the finer points. If you watch some of this clip, you’ll see the stone that Mai is pushing. We missed out on that “balance” thing they do in the clip*.
*Note - I could not find the clip that I referenced in the original publication - Ed.