A 140-acre, tree covered island located on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada is quite the mysterious place. This body of land referred to as Oak Island is the noted location of the famous Money Pit and has been targeted for treasure hunts dating back over two hundred years or longer.
The notorious treasure hunt story began in the summer of 1795, where a boy, Daniel McGinnis, who was a Nova Scotian native landed on a small island in Mahone Bay. While exploring the island he noticed signs of human inhabitation such as an old ship’s pulley system hanging from a tree. Adjacent to the tree was a slight depression in the ground indicating a hole had been dug and filled back in. Completely ecstatic, McGinnis hurried back home to tell his two best friends, Anthony Vaughan, and John Smith, of the buried treasure he had just come across. While digging the next day, the boys discovered a 13-foot-wide shaft, and foreign flagstones four feet down. As they continued digging, they found a whole layer of supporting log beams at around 10 feet down, and at between 20 and 30 feet down they uncovered additional platforms, but these were made of oak. As time ticked by, the three boys realized they were in desperate need of better equipment, and additional manpower. So, they returned home yearning to raise the capital needed for a more committed attempt.
The three friends ended up failing, however not without going unnoticed. In 1803, a local businessman, Simeon Lynds got wind of the discoveries the boys made on Oak Island and was considerably interested in raising money to attempt a treasure hunt. Simeon formed a treasure hunting alliance named the Onslow Company and tried digging up the Money Pit. What they found was oak platforms at exact intervals of 10 feet, along with clay, charcoal, and fibrous material. While reaching 90-feet in depth, the team uncovered a flat stone containing an undecipherable message but ended up discontinuing for the night. Upon waking up the next day, they were shocked to find the shaft had been flooded with up to 60 feet of mud and water. With many attempts to bail out the water using buckets, they found the water level remained at a consistent level and were forced to scrap the hunt. A year later the team attempted to bypass the water level by constructing a parallel shaft, but they dug too close to the original shaft, where the walls cracked, inevitably ending the Onslow Company’s excursion.
No other attempts have been quite as close to acquiring the treasure, but more data has been discovered. It was found that the shaft was an underground canal which had been carefully constructed running from the beach, 500 feet away to the shaft’s core. This implied that oak logs and clay acted as a cork, and upon removing them, water would then flush into the shaft. Additional efforts of drilling into the shaft have uncovered metal coins, metal chains, layers of concrete, bullion, and a piece of parchment with inscriptions on it. This substantial evidence of treasure has facilitated and accelerated the continuous efforts to find it.
Perplexed minds have also inquired about who owned the treasure and built the underground canals. Suggestions of the treasure being Inca gold, which was hidden by the natives as the Spanish settlers invaded has been proposed. Also, the idea that a hoard of British Army war chests concealed as soldiers retreated during the American war of Independence.
One of the most popular theories is that the treasure is connected to the Knights Templar, a military order of the Crusades. According to this theory, the Templars may have buried their treasure on Oak Island before they disbanded in the 14th century. Other theories suggest that the treasure could be connected to the Masons, the Roanoke Colony, or even Marie Antoinette.
In 1861, another company named the Oak Island association followed the idea to try and intersect the shaft that fed water to the Money Pit. However, that attempt failed as well because water began flowing in. A massive operation consisting of bailing the water out was set up, but instantly there was a deafening crash due to the Money Pit collapsing. Some theorized the envisioned treasure chests had fallen into a void and the pit was possibly booby trapped to deter treasure seekers.
By 1965, after decades of attempts, Oak Island had been turned into a mazed of tunnels and shafts. An American geologist named Bob Dunfield attempted a brute force method to locate the treasure. He obtained a 70-ton crane and plowed a hole 140 feet deep by 100 feet wide but found nothing, other than the remains of previous attempts. Five years later, in 1970, an investment group, Triton Alliance authorized a full geological study of Oak Island. The findings of this study were never released to the public but encouraged the group enough to commence excavation of the Island. The results were inconclusive as they found merely nothing but pieces of brass, China, and wood about 200 feet down.
Despite all the effort that has gone into searching for the treasure, no one has yet been able to uncover any concrete evidence of what might be buried on Oak Island. Many expeditions have ended in failure, and some have even resulted in fatalities.
In recent years, the search for the Oak Island treasure has been the subject of several television shows, including the History Channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island.” These shows have brought renewed interest to the mystery and have sparked the imagination of a new generation of treasure hunters.
The local folks believe that over two centuries of digging and excavation have left the island in complete ruins and insist that the hidden treasure will never be found. However, others beg to differ and while at this very moment, you can bet that there is a secret treasure safely buried on Oak Island.