Edward Leedskalnin

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Edward Leedskalnin
Born (1887-01-12)12 January 1887
Died 7 December 1951(1951-12-07) (aged 64)
Nationality Latvian [1]
Known for Coral Castle
A view from within Leedskalnin's Coral Castle.

Edward Leedskalnin (Latvian: Edvards Liedskalniņš) (January 12, 1887, Stāmeriena parish, Livonia; December 7, 1951, Miami) was an eccentric Latvian emigrant to the United States and amateur sculptor who single-handedly built the monument known as Coral Castle in Florida. He was also known for his obscure theories on magnetism.

Life[edit]

Edward Leedskalnin was born January 12, 1887, according to World War I draft registration records, in Stāmeriena parish, Latvia. Little is known of his childhood, aside from the fact that he was not wealthy and achieved only a fourth-grade education. However Edward was a sickly boy, and often spent his time inside reading books — eventually leading him to discontinue his schooling as it "bored him". For Ed, his development of a yearning to obtain knowledge became a passionate and potent driving force in many endeavours throughout his later life.[2] At the age of 26, he was engaged to marry Agnes Scuffs, a girl ten years younger.[3] However, the girl that Leedskalnin referred to as his "Sweet Sixteen" broke the engagement the night before their wedding, so he emigrated to North America[4] where he found work in various lumber camps in Canada, California, and Texas.

Then, after contracting a case of tuberculosis, Leedskalnin moved to the warmer climate of Florida around 1919, where he purchased a small piece of land in Florida City. Over the next 20 years, Leedskalnin putatively constructed and lived within a massive coral monument he called "Rock Gate Park", dedicated to the girl who had left him years before. Working alone at night, Leedskalnin eventually quarried and sculpted over 1,100 short tons (997,903 kg) of coral into a monument that would later be known as the Coral Castle. He used various basic tools, several made from timber and parts of an old Ford; first he built a house out of coral and timber, then he gradually built the monuments for which he is famous.[4] In spite of his private nature, he eventually opened his monument to the public, offering tours for 10 cents. He was a surprisingly accommodating host, even cooking hot dogs for visiting children in a pressure cooker of his own invention.[citation needed]

When people asked Leedskalnin how he had moved all of the stone by himself, he refused to give over his method and would only reply to whoever was asking with the same statement: "I understand the laws of weight and leverage and I know the secrets of the people who built the pyramids (being those at the site at Giza in Egypt)."[citation needed]

This building was originally located in Florida City in the 1920s; then in the mid-1930s Leedskalnin hired a truck and driver[4] to move it to its present location on a 10-acre (4.0 ha) site near Homestead, Florida. On November 9, 1951, he checked himself into Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Leedskalnin suffered a stroke at one point, either before he left for the hospital or at the hospital. He died twenty-eight days later of pyelonephritis (a kidney infection) at the age of 64. His death certificate noted that his death was a result of "uremia; failure of kidneys, as a result of the infection and abscess."[5]

Writings[edit]

During his lifetime, Leedskalnin published five pamphlets, advertising them in local newspapers.

Moral education[edit]

His first and longest booklet, a treatise on moral education, is printed on only the left-hand pages, and begins with the following preface:

Reader, if for any reason you do not like the things I say in the little book, I left just as much space as I used, so you can write your own opinion opposite it and see if you can do better.
The Author

In the first section, Leedskalnin vents his anger at his "Sweet Sixteen", arguing that girls should be kept pure, and that boys are primarily a soiling influence upon them. On page 4 of A Book in Every Home, Leedskalnin writes:

Everything we do should be for some good purpose but as everybody knows there is nothing good that can come to a girl from a fresh boy. When a girl is sixteen or seventeen years old, she is as good as she ever will be, but when a boy is sixteen years old, he is then fresher than in all his stages of development. He is then not big enough to work but he is too big to be kept in a nursery and then to allow such a fresh thing to soil a girl — it could not work on my girl. Now I will tell you about soiling. Anything that is done, if it is done with the right party it is all right, but when it is done with the wrong party, it is soiling, and concerning those fresh boys with the girls, it is wrong every time.

The second section continues along the theme of moral education, with several aphorisms aimed at parents regarding the proper way to raise children. The last, "Political" section, reveals that the reclusive Leedskalnin had strong political views. He advocates voting for property owners only (and in proportion to their holdings), and argues that "Anyone who is too weak to make his own living is not strong enough to vote."

Some writers[who?] have suggested that Leedskalnin's booklet contains further information on his electromagnetic research and philosophies encoded in its pages, and the blank pages are provided for the reader to fill in their decrypted solutions. It has also been suggested that Leedskalnin's frequent referral to his "Sweet Sixteen" may in fact refer to the numerological and/or scientific relevance of the number sixteen to his research and theories.[6]

Leedskalnin's ideas may appear unusual. He wrote that a mother's most important task is to ensure that her daughter remains "chaste and faithful":[4]

In case a girl's mamma thinks that there is a boy somewhere who needs experience then she, herself, could pose as an experimental station for that fresh boy to practise on and so save the girl. Nothing can hurt her any more. She has already gone through all the experience that can be gone through and so in her case it would be all right

Magnetism[edit]

Leedskalnin's other four pamphlets addressed his theories on the interaction of electricity, magnetism and the body; Leedskalnin also included a number of simple experiments to validate his theories.

Contradicting the standard model of electromagnetism, his thesis is based upon the theory that the metal itself is not the magnet and that the real magnets are circulating in the metal. These individual north and south pole magnets are particles smaller than atoms or photons and each particle in the substance was an individual magnet by itself.[citation needed]

Leedskalnin claimed that all matter was being acted upon by what he called "individual magnets". He also claimed that scientists of his time were looking in the wrong place for their understanding of electricity and that they were only observing "one half of the whole concept" with "one sided tools of measurement". For instance:

Magnets in general are indestructible. For instance you can burn wood and flesh. You can destroy the body, but you cannot destroy the magnets that hold together the body. They go somewhere else. Iron has more magnets than wood, and every different substance has a different number of magnets that hold the substance together. If I make a battery with copper for positive terminal and beef for negative terminal I get more magnets out of it than when I used copper for positive terminal and sweet potato for negative terminal. From this you can see that no two things are alike.[4]

Bibliography[edit]

Other media[edit]

Ed Leedskalnin, Coral Castle and the mystery surrounding how he built it are plot foundations of the novel Cincinnatus.

The Brooklyn-based history band, Piñataland, recorded a song about Leedskalnin entitled "Latvian Bride" for their 2003 album Songs for the Forgotten Future Vol. 1.

Billy Idol recorded the song Sweet Sixteen for his Whiplash Smile album. It was based on the love story of Leedskalnin and his runaway girl. The video was recorded in the Coral Castle of Florida. He also wrote this song there.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Atlas Obscura
  2. ^ "Coral Castle (official site)". Coralcastle.com. Retrieved 2006-10-30. 
  3. ^ Coral Castle: English Tour Guide. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Michell, John. Eccentric lives and peculiar notions. ISBN 978-0-932813-67-1. 
  5. ^ "Coral Castle: The Mystery of Ed Leedskalnin and his American Stonehenge by best-selling author Rusty McClure and Jack Heffron". Coralcastlebook.com. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  6. ^ "The Complete Writings of Edward Leedskalnin". Leedskalnin.com. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]