I wrote Crosley and Coral Castle to give my readers insight into people from the past who I thought were extraordinary. These books tell the stories of Ed Leedskalnin and the Crosley brothers through meticulously gathered research and facts.
After learning so much about these three men, I decided I wanted them to be a part of my next book.
Cincinnatus also features Ed and the Crosley brothers, but this time in a work of fiction. The versions of Ed Leedskalnin, Powel Crosley, Jr. and Lewis Crosley that appear in Cincinnatus are characters, but I crafted them from what I’d learned about their actual personalities. The interactions they have with each other in the book are purely fictional, but I wrote their encounters imagining how the men would actually react.
Writing the true account of these men’s lives gave me the insight and inspiration to write them into their next adventure. Crosley and Coral Castle tell the stories of the Crosley brothers and Ed Leedskalnin as they really lived, but Cincinnatus allows them to live on in a new story.
There’s a skeptic for every theory about how Ed Leedskalnin built Coral Castle.
If we’re to believe some of the theories on the Internet, Ed was an alien from outer space, he knew the secret to anti-gravity and he levitated the stone blocks into place with his mind. While these theories are entertaining, all of them lack significant proof.
Curiosity keeps us speculating, but skepticism keeps us rational.
While the skeptic in me wants answers, part of me is happy Coral Castle remains a mystery. Many spirited debates and serious conversations never would have occurred if Ed had revealed his secrets.
If Ed were alive today I doubt he could be convinced to reveal the secret of Coral Castle. Instead, I imagine he’d leave the skeptics and the conspiracy theorists to their debates, getting a good chuckle out of both sides.
Recognition usually doesn’t come quickly for positive accomplishments. While celebrity goings on are plastered on the front of magazines and webpages, the good deeds of the average person mostly go unnoticed.
I admire those who aren’t fueled by acknowledgment.
Although the Crosley brothers eventually attained notoriety, they worked humbly for many years preceding their fame. Thousands of people now know of Coral Castle and Ed Leedskalnin, but Ed died before his creation got much attention outside of Homestead, Florida.
If these men relied on encouragement, Coral Castle and the Crosley brothers’ business empire wouldn’t exist.
Lots of people work hard for recognition. Few can work hard without it.
Roadside America lists Coral Castle on their website along with other “Offbeat Tourist Attractions.”
Some of the roadside attractions on the site are interesting, and some of them are downright bizarre. Here are a few of my favorites:
–The World’s Largest Horseshoe Crab in Blanchester, Ohio
–The World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas
–Petrified Wood Gas Station in Lamar, Colorado
–Foamhenge in Natural Bridge, Virginia
Unlike most tourist attractions, Coral Castle wasn’t built with the intention to turn a profit. Ed had no interest in making money. He often let curious visitors in for free if they didn’t have the means to pay.
While Coral Castle often makes websites like RoadsideAmerica.com, it’s far more than just a tourist trap. Ed’s story sets Coral Castle apart from kitschy attractions like the ones I’ve listed. Coral Castle isn’t just a novelty, it’s a mysterious achievement that represents the hard work and dedication of one extraordinary man.
In early advertisements Ed described Coral Castle in broken English, referring to his life’s work as an “unusual accomplishment.”I can’t describe Coral Castle more accurately than Ed did. It is truly, an unusual accomplishment.
Ed Leedskalnin, by all accounts, was a friendly man. He allowed visitors into Coral Castle so they could enjoy his masterpiece. He made friends with some of his neighbors, and he was missed after he died.
For all this openness, Ed also valued secrecy.
In Latvia, Ed grew up close to the castles of German barons. His life, and the lives of his friends and family, were dictated by the whims of the wealthy. Ed grew up in a time and place where his class of people had little control over the course of their lives.
After moving to Homestead, Florida, Ed built his own castle. He curated and engineered his property to be an impenetrable fortress (when he wanted it to be). Although Ed claimed to have unlocked the secrets of magnetic currents, he chose to take those secrets to the grave.
Rather than choosing to pursue wealth, I think Ed gained personal satisfaction from holding onto his secrets. After growing up in a world where most power was held by the rich, I like to think Ed died with the satisfaction of knowing he would be respected, long after he was gone.
After Ed Leedskalnin’s death in 1951, Coral Castle was put to use in ways he never imagined.
B-movies, especially science fiction and fantasy films, were always in need of cheap, ‘otherworldly’ sets. Coral Castle’s unnatural giant rock sculptures were perfect.
Films like Wild Women of Wongo, Plan 9 from Outer Space and Nude on the Moon all featured Coral Castle in some of their scenes. Never heard of them? Few people have.
Like film critics everywhere, I imagine Ed would cringe at the thought of a scantily clad ‘Moon Goddess’ bathing in his stone tub, or sitting on the giant throne he worked so hard to build. But as the television industry grew, Coral Castle was revisited many times by programs of a more serious nature.
Coral Castle was featured on an episode of In Search Of, a documentary-style program that explored paranormal or mysterious subjects, hosted by Leonard Nimoy. This episode, in addition to cameos on other similar programs, helped bring Coral Castle into the spotlight.
While it’s no mega-attraction, Coral Castle has retained its intrigue because it’s an authentic achievement. When it comes down to it, all the futuristic B-movies in the world can’t compare to one man’s lifetime of hard work.
As I was doing research for Coral Castle, I discovered Ed Leedskalnin had started conversations far beyond Homestead, Florida.
There were websites and forums dedicated to speculation about how Ed could have moved those massive rocks. Engineers, mystics and everyone in-between had an opinion on how Ed built Coral Castle. The more I researched, the more theories I heard, but few people were willing to get their hands dirty. Even those who were the most convinced they were right, didn’t have the inclination to prove it.
Wally Wallington of Flint, Michigan did. A retired carpenter, Wallington had an idea about how Stonehenge could have been erected, but he didn’t stop there. After experimenting with heavy stones, Wallington found that moving huge rocks depends on finding their center of gravity and applying basic laws of leverage.
Watch Wallington’s method in action here.
These backyard feats of engineering could be some of the same method’s Ed used to build Coral Castle. Regardless, Wallington proved more than anyone arguing in an Internet forum.
Speculation is easy. Moving tons of rock is not.
One researcher is going beyond speculation to explain how Ed Leedskalnin could have built Coral Castle.
According to the website Leedskalnin.com, Matthew Emery’s magnetic current research comes from Ed Leedskalnin’s own theories. Drawing inspiration from some of Ed’s published pamphlets, Emery’s objective is to test these electro-magnetic theories through experimentation.
I admire anyone who is inspired enough to take the time and effort to do investigative research. It’s easy to come up with a conspiracy theory, but actually delving into a complex subject like this takes a lot of hard work.
Will this diligent researcher be the one to crack the secret of Coral Castle? Probably not, but I don’t blame him for trying.
The story behind Coral Castle is an interesting one. The structures Ed Leedskalnin built single-handedly have inspired tall tales, conspiracy theories and journalistic research.
If you truly want to grasp Ed’s incredible feat of engineering, I recommend you take a trip to Homestead, Florida. Until then, here are some photographs of Ed and Coral Castle to pique your curiosity.
Entrance to Coral Castle
The moon fountain and 20-ton north wall
Carving at the base of giant stone obelisk reads:
5,000 lb heart shaped table
Interested in how Ed did it? Find out more about Coral Castle here.
Long-term dedication is hard.
It’s easy to be committed to something at first. No task seems too daunting when you’re fueled by the excitement of starting something new. But after awhile, that newness wears off and you’re left with work. Hard, tiring, uninspiring work.
This is when most people give up.
The local people of Homestead, Florida thought Ed Leedskalnin was a little crazy to dedicate his life to building Coral Castle. The Crosley brothers failed over and over before they finally achieved success.
Ed, Powel and Lewis never gave up.
The Crosley brothers were just as committed to their dream during failures as they were at the height of their success. Ed kept Coral Castle going even though it didn’t attract his lost love like he’d hoped. All three men were committed to turning their ambitions into reality.
Dedication isn’t easy, it isn’t fun and there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed.
That’s what makes it admirable.