A haunting park of stones is built under mysterious circumstances by an eccentric recluse. What could be more inviting than that? Not much, according to some who have visited the Coral Castle located just north of Homestead, FL in Miami-Dade County. Called the "American Stonehenge" by some, the park features huge stones weighing an average of 14 tons which have been stacked, placed and carved into many forms. It is an engineering marvel built by one person working alone. Most of the sculptured pieces such as the furniture and art forms are sculpted from one stone. Two of the most popular park features are the two-story tower the builder used as his home and the eight-foot revolving gate leading into the park. The "furniture" includes rocking chairs, beds, a bathtub and a heart-shaped table.
The haunting story behind the park involves Edward Leedskalnin as a broken-hearted immigrant from Latvia. The story alleges he left his country after being jilted by his 16-year-old bride-to-be the day before the wedding. After recuperating from tuberculosis with the help of a treatment involving magnets, Ed moved to Florida and began building the castle as a memorium to his lost love.
The mystery of the park lies in the size of the stones. How could a five-foot tall man weighing about 100 pounds move, position and carve over 2.2 million pounds of native-Florida rock by himself? During the 28 years it took Ed to build the place, he allowed no one to watch him work and never would say how he did it except to mention magnets. When he died in 1951, he took his secrets to the grave.
When the revolving gate quit working in 1986, it took six men and a crane to remove, repair and replace it. While they worked, however, they did discover some of the ingenious mechanisms Ed used.
Since the park opened in 1953, visitors have marveled at the beauty and precision of the stone work and been awed by the sheer size of the stones. They take exit 5 off the beaten path of the Florida Turnpike to Homestead and drive to the intersection of U.S. 1 and S.W. 157th avenue to see the wonders of this park, now operated by a private company. There is something interesting for all ages. Parents don't have to worry about their children wrecking anything, either. Coral Castle has endured a lot, including Hurricane Andrew in 2005. There is a small gift shop by the park which sells souvenirs.
All in all, words cannot adequately describe this South Florida attraction nor tell its fascinating story. It simply must be seen to appreciate.