The Oak Island Mystery

The "money pit" in 1947
The “money pit” in 1947

The Legendary Oak Island is a 140-acre island in Lunenburg County on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. The tree-covered island is one of about 360 small islands in Mahone Bay. It is only connected to the mainland by a modern causeway, the island is privately owned, and advance permission is required for any visitation – tours were conducted at one point, but have been cancelled.  What’s the mystery of Oak Island you may ask?  Well the so-called “Money Pit” located on the  site has been for over 200 years of  the focus treasure hunting. Repeated excavations have reported layers of apparently man-made artifacts as deep as 31 meters (102 ft), but ended in collapsed excavations and flooding. Critics have argued that there is no treasure and that the pit is a natural phenomenon, likely a sinkhole. Furthermore , physical evidence from the initial excavations is absent or has been lost. Here is some of the timeline of  mystery:

  • 1795 – 18 year old Daniel McGinnis, after observing lights coming from the island (Some argue U.F.O.’s, others pirates), discovered a circular depression in a clearing on the southeastern end of the island. Adjacent to the clearing was a tree with a tackle block on one of its overhanging branches.  Daniel McGinnis, with the help of friends John Smith (in early accounts, Samuel Ball) and Anthony Vaughan, excavated the depression and discovered a layer of flagstones a few feet below. On the pit walls there were visible markings from a pick. As they dug down they discovered layers of logs at about every 10 feet (3.0 m). They abandoned the excavation at 30 feet (9.1 m). This initial discovery and excavation was first briefly mentioned in print in the Liverpool Transcript in October 1856. A more complete account followed, again in the Liverpool Transcript, the Novascotian, British Colonist, and A History Of Lunenburg County (the last source based on the Liverpool Transcript articles).
  • 1803 – According to the original articles and the memories of Vaughan, another company examined what was to become known as the “Money Pit.”  The Onslow Company continued the excavation down to approximately 90 feet (27.43 m) and found layers of logs or “marks” about every ten feet (3 m) and layers of charcoal, putty and coconut fiber at 40, 50 and 60 feet (12, 15 and 18 m ).  According to one of the earliest written accounts, at 80–90 feet (24–27 m), they recovered a large stone bearing an inscription of symbols.  Several researchers apparently attempted to decipher the symbols. One translated them as saying: “forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.”  The symbols currently associated with the “forty feet down…” translation and seen in many books first appeared in True Tales of Buried Treasure, written by explorer and historian Edward Rowe Snow in 1951. In this book he states he was given this set of symbols by Reverend A.T. Kempton of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Nothing  is known about Kempton’s involvement in the Oak Island tale or how he knew of the symbols. The pit subsequently flooded up to the 33-foot (10 m) level. Bailing did not reduce the water level, and the excavation was abandoned yet again.

    Inscribed Stone Found at Site
    Inscribed Stone Found at Site
  • 1849 – Investors formed The Truro Company, which re-excavated the shaft back down to the 86 feet (26 m) level, where it flooded again. They then drilled into the ground below the bottom of the shaft. According to the nineteenth-century account, the drill or “pod auger” passed through a spruce platform at 98 feet (30 m), a 12-inch (300 mm) head space, 22 inches (560 mm) of what was described as “metal in pieces”, 8 inches (200 mm) of oak, another 22 inches (560 mm) of metal, 4 inches (100 mm) of oak, another spruce layer, and finally into clay for 7 feet (2.1 m) without striking anything else.
  • 1850 – Subterranean waterway and artificial beach were found at Smith’s Cove.
  • 1861 – First life claimed by Oak Island. A man was scalded to death by an exploding boiler.
  • 1861 – The bottom literally fell out as the items that had been at 100 feet fell farther down to hole thanks to weakening of the pit by several cross tunnels.
  • 1893 – Fred Blair and The Oak Island Treasure Company begin their investigations. Cave-in pit investigated.
  • 1897 – Triangle rock formation was discovered.
  • 1897 – Cement vault encountered and parchment was found during drilling.
  • 1897 – Second life lost when Maynard Kaiser fell to his death while being pulled out of the pit.
  • 1899 – The 2nd flood tunnel, The South Shore Tunnel, was discovered.
  • 1936 – 2nd inscribed stone found and more evidence of original cofferdam found.
  • 1965 – In one day Oak Island claimed four more lives: Bob and Bobbie Restall, Karl Grasser, and Cyril Hiltz.
One of many Oak Island Shafts Dug over the years...
One of many Oak Island Shafts Dug over the years…

So where does that leave us? No matter the year or money spent this so called “Money Pit” sits. The hunters in this game ranged from an American President, Theodore Roosevelt to actors John Wayne and Errol Flynn. But for all the digging, draining and blasting, all they ended up with was a number of holes, all full of water.  There are theories that the treasure is Shakespeare’s Original Masterpieces to the Ark of the Covenant to the lost jewels of Marie Antoinette to Freemason treasure…

Newer Theory
Newer Theory

The most interesting to me is that its a giant Baghdad Battery…which states the island itself was a large battery, for what we don’t know…  In the end many claims, few validations… and millions, possibly billions spent over the years…. all for not… so far anyway… 😉


John C. Fowler