Re: Castles in Ladonia

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Posted by . on December 08, 1998 at 10:06:34:

In Reply to: Re: Castles in Ladonia posted by Nemo on December 04, 1998 at 16:02:23:

There was a man not far from Ladonia in the Land
of Latvia who did something I feel should be tried
in your new nation.

"The Coral Castle originally called "Rock Gate Park", was built by one man,
working alone. It took him 20 years to build - from 1920 to 1940. His name is
Edward Leedskalnin. Ed was born in Latvia in 1887 and died in Miami in 1951. He
was 64.

When Ed was 26, he was engaged to marry Agnes Scuffs who was 10 years
younger than he was. He always referred to her as "Sweet Sixteen". On the day
before the wedding, she told Ed she did not want to marry him because he was too
old and too poor.

Jilted on the eve of his wedding, Edward Leedskalnin embarked on a journey that
would culminate in one of the world's most remarkable accomplishments. Over a
period of twenty years, he sculpted and carved over 1,100 tons of coral rock.

Hurt by the rejection Ed left Latvia. He wandered for several years, and eventually made his way to Canada and
then down into California and Texas. He worked in the lumber camps and was involved in at least one cattle drive
in Texas. These types of jobs gave Ed a strength which he later used in cutting and moving blocks of coral
weighing many tons.

What makes Ed's work remarkable is the fact that he was five feet tall and weighed
100 pounds. At some point during Ed's wanderings he developed a touch of
tuberculosis. He was told that South Florida had a good climate; so he came here
sometime during the 1918 - 1920 period. For reasons unknown to us, Ed chose to carve
a castle of coral in dedication to "Sweet Sixteen"

This part of Florida is composed of coral, in some places as much as 4,000 feet thick,
covered with a very few inches of topsoil. The remarkable feat was in cutting and
moving huge coral blocks single-handedly using hand tools. People in the area became
curious about the coral furniture that Ed was carving. You must understand that during
the period that Ed was building the castle - both in Florida City and Homestead, we
cannot find any record or any person who saw Ed work. Ed remained in Florida City
until about 1936. At that time, someone planned to build a sub-division near him. Since Ed was a very private
person, he decided to move. He came to Homestead and bought 10 acres. Most every carving that you see inside
of the Castle was carved in Florida City.

How did Ed move all of these carvings a distance of 10 miles? Ed had the chassis of an old Republic truck on which
he laid two rails. He had a friend with a tractor who moved the loaded trailer from Florida City to Homestead.
Many people saw the coral carvings being moved along the old Dixie Highway, but no one ever saw Ed loading or
unloading the trailer. Ed did much of his work at night by lantern light. He seemed to have a sixth sense which told
him when some one was trying to spy on him. The numerous lookouts along the Castle walls will attest to his
suspicious nature.

The Castle walls and gates prove his desire for privacy. In 1940, after the carvings were in place, Ed finished
erecting the walls. Coral weighs approximately 125 pounds per cubic foot. Each section of wall is 8 feet tall, 4 feet
wide, 3 foot thick, and weighs approximately 13,000 pounds. When asked how he was able to move the blocks of
coral, Ed would say only that he understood the laws of weight and leverage. This from a man who only had a
fourth grade education.

His incredible feats baffled engineers and scientist. They have compared Ed's secret method of construction to
Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids.

Ed wrote a total of five pamphlets. "A Book In Every Home" contains Ed's thoughts on 3 subjects. "Sweet
Sixteen, Domestic and Political Views". He wrote 3 pamphlets on "Magnetic Current". His "Mineral, Vegetable
and Animal Life" contains his beliefs on life's cycle. These pamphlets are available only in our gift shop.

In December of 1951 Ed became ill. He put a sign on the door saying "Going to the Hospital". He took a bus to
Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Three days later he died in his sleep. He was 64. After his death, a nephew
living in Michigan, inherited the Castle. In 1953, shortly before his death, he sold the Castle to a family from
Chicago. During the take-over, a box of Ed's effects were found and examined. It contained a set of instructions
which led to the discovery of 35 - $100 bills - his life savings.

Ed made this money from giving tours at ten and twenty-five cents. Also from the sale of his pamphlets, and the
sale of the land where the Highway U.S.1 passes the castle.

A different man. An interesting man. In many ways, an incredible man."

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