about-ed

Edward Leedskalnin was an eccentric, mysterious and private man who lived a purposeful life.  He was a stonemason whose accomplishments still baffle people today.

Born January 12, 1887 in Riga Latvia, located in northeastern Europe, little is known of Ed’s early childhood except that he grew up with modest means and received a basic education in Sakumskola school (Latvian for elementary). He learned the trade of stonemasonry from his family in Latvia.

He was engaged to Agnes Skuvst, nine years his junior, referring to her as his “sweet sixteen.”  Marriage in the early twentieth century was at the age of majority for men and women, which at the time was 15 and considered socially acceptable. However, Agnes had second thoughts and broke their engagement.  Heartbroken and alone, Ed fled to Germany to immigrate to the United States. He arrived in New York in 1912 aboard the SS Pennsylvania.  Looking for work, he relocated to the Pacific Northwest, which was experiencing a logging boom where he became an ax handle maker.

By 1922 Ed had been diagnosed with tuberculosis, so he moved to the warmer climate of Florida, where he purchased an acre of land in Florida City for $12.  There, Leedskalnin began what was to become his life’s work and obsession, a monument to his lost love.  A resourceful man, he used materials he excavated nearby of oolite, a porous rock that resembles coral.  Working alone and mostly at night, he eventually quarried and sculpted more than 1000 tons of rock into an architectural and engineering landmark. He used basic block and tackle, a system of two or more pulleys with rope or cable threaded between them and primitive tools he created from old car parts. What makes this accomplishment so remarkable is that Ed not only devised a method to move these megalithic rocks without the need of modern machinery or assistance from anyone, but he did so while standing just over 5 feet tall and weighing approximately 120 pounds. 

By the mid-1930s, Ed was growing concerned about his privacy as the land around him began to develop, so he decided to move his rock home to its present location in Homestead Florida, originally called Modello. Ed knew a nearby farmer, Bob Biggers, who had a heavy duty trailer that could handle the tonnage so they made a deal for hauling these heavy rocks. According to an affidavit dated April 5, 1955, by Mrs. C.U. Barnes, she states, “He moved all of the rock objects alone from Florida City. He would put them on a big trailer then have my brother, Bob Biggers come and pull them to the present location. Then he would say to Bob, “Go on now for I don’t want anyone to bother me while I work.”  Ed continued to work alone and in secret moving the massive stones with the tallest measuring 23 feet tall and the heaviest weighing over 21 tons. It took 2 years to complete the move.

Ed continued to sculpt and build on his castle in Homestead. Originally known as “Ed’s Place” he changed the name to “Rock Gate Park” and constructed a 9 ton gate that revolved with the slightest push of your hand. This was one of the greatest mysteries of the castle until the gate stopped working in 1986 causing 6 men and a crane to dismantle the structure for repair and revealing one of Ed’s many secrets. Ed had drilled a hole through the nine ton gate from top to bottom perfectly centered and inserted a metal shaft balancing the stone on an old truck bearing so perfect that it turned with the wind. What caused it to stop working was the bearing had rusted out.

Ed claimed to understand the laws of weight and leverage and knew the secrets of the people who built the pyramids.  He was also known to develop theories of magnetism.

Ed published several pamphlets on various subjects of magnetism and moral education.  Four pamphlets addressed interaction of electricity, magnetism and the body; Leedskalnin also included a number of simple experiments to validate his theories.

Ed’s work was never done, he continued construction over the next 28 years until his death in 1951.  Even in death, Ed’s unwavering dedication and ingenuity to his craft still influences people to this day. Scientists are still perplexed as to the ins and outs of how he did what he did; in short, the impossible. His influences can also be seen across all genres of pop culture, in music, television, art and literature.