The Oak Island mystery is a set to stories about hidden and buried treasures, artifacts and unexplained objects on Oak Island in Nova Scotia, one of Canadian Provinces. There have been many different attempts since the 19th century to find and retrieve treasure and artifacts.
Although there are many different theories and possible connections to various time periods and artifacts, no significant discoveries have been made yet.
Earliest Information (1790s–1856)
A very limited amount of verified information is familiar about the early treasure hunting activities on Oak Island.
Only decades after them did the publishers pay attention to all the activity and rumors surrounding the island, so they decided to investigate. The earliest recorded story of a treasure score is that of a settler called Daniel McGinnis.
It first appeared in print in 1856, with the excavation information on the Onslow and Truro Company appeared in the early 1860s. Everything before this should therefore be considered as legends, stories, myths and mouth stories at best, going back to the late eighteenth-century.
The first of these involve a dying sailor from the crew of famous Captain Kidd (1701). It is allegedly stated that a treasure worth approximately £2 million is buried somewhere on the island.
The First Excavations (1861-1898)
The “The Oak Island Association” company made a big attempt at digging out treasure. They drilled from the side to avoid the flooded shaft. During the excavation, collapsed, and it was said that the treasure fell into a void. Speculations of booby-traps also occurred. The new shaft became flooded as well. The first of the six deaths happened when a pump engine boiler burst, killing a man. The project was abandoned when money ran dry in 1864.
Two years later, an unknown group came with steam pumps and boring equipment. The pumps were useless and unable to keep the water out of the side shaft. Boring samples were acquired however. One of these samples had a small piece of sheepskin parchment with two letters, “vi” or “wi”, written in India ink, on it. The second a death occurred on March 26, the following year when Maynard Kaiser fell to his death.The following year, the group poured red paint into the flooded pit. This revealed three exit holes present on the island.
Further Attempts (1909-1939)
Captain Henry L. Bowdoin came to Oak Island in August of 1909. He represented the Old Gold Salvage Group, and one of their members was none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The area received the intriguing nickname the “money pit”. Around 113 feet (34 m) were cleared out, with divers investigate the area.None of the borings revealed interesting details anywhere.
Bowdoin examined Smith’s Cove as well, and reported the discoveries of drain tunnels and a ringbolt in a rock. Again, nothing of value or interest came out. Bowdoin later examined the “stone cipher” in Halifax, and found it a basalt rock with no symbols. This group finally left the island in November, however Roosevelt always kept up with the news and developments from the island, until his death.
In 1928, one of the New York newspapers published a story on Oak Island. William Chappell was intrigued, and went on to excavate the pit in 1931, southwest of what he thought to be the 1897 shaft. At 127 feet, or 39 m, a many artifacts were found, including a fluke anchor, an axe, and a pick. Al of these were from previous excavations, but the owners were impossible to trace.
Gilbert Hedden was an operator of a steel fabricating company. He was also interested in the 1928 article, and was fascinated by the problems in engineering at the excavation site. He took six trips to Oak Island, and also collected books and articles on it. He went so far and travelled to England in order to consult with Harold T. Wilkins, who wrote Captain Kidd and His Skeleton Island. Hedden began to dig during the summer of 1935. After this he purchased the southeastern end of the island. His excavations were unfortunately, like all the rest, unsuccessful.
From the ‘60s to the ‘90s (1959-1990s)
Robert Restall came to the island with his 18-year-old son, as well as with his work partner Karle Graeserin 1959, before which he had signed a contract with one of the owners of property. In 1965, they attempted to seal a storm drain in Smith’s Cove, or so they believed, and dug a shaft 27 feet down. On August 17, hydrogen sulfide fumes overcame Restall who passed out. His son then went to try and save him, but he too lost consciousness. Graeser and two other people, Cyril Hiltz and Andy DeMont, went next to save the two. Finally, a visitor Edward White lowered himself using a rope on a rope, but only managed to rescue DeMont. Sadly, Restall and his son, as well as Graeser and Hiltz all died that day.
During this year, Robert Dunfield leased some parts of the island. He dug 134 feet (41 m) deep and 100 feet (30 m) wide with a 70-ton clam bucket crane. The transportation of this enormous crane required the construction of a causeway, which still exists today. It stretches from the western end of the island, all the way to Crandall’s Point on the mainland. It is two hundred meters long.His lease on the island ended in August of 1966.
Next attempt came in January 1967, when Daniel C. Blankenship, Robert Dunfield, David Tobias, and Fred Nolan formed a syndicate meant to explore Oak Island. After two years, Blankenship and Tobias established Triton Alliance and purchased the majority of the island.Former landowners like Mel Chappell became shareholders in Triton. In 1971, the company excavated a 235 feet (72 m) shaft, known as Borehole 10-X. It was attached to bedrock by a steel caisson.
Reportedly, they lowered cameras into a cave, that recorded chests, human remains, wooden cribbing and tools. These images were unclear however, ant nothing was confirmed. The shaft collapsed, after which the excavation was abandoned one more time. It was revisited and dug to 181 feet (55 m) all the way to bed rock, which was followed by the lack of funds, and the breaking of partnership finally stopped it.
In 1983, Triton Alliance took Frederick Nolan to court and sued him over the ownership of seven lots on the island. Two years later, his ownership was confirmed, however he had to pay damages for interfering with the tourism business of Triton Alliance. Triton lost on appeal in 1989, when Nolan’s damages were lowered.
In the 1990s, the overall exploration stalled due to legal battles between the Triton partners, and the lack of funding got in the way as well.A part of the island became available for sale in 2005 for US$7 million. Oak Island Tourism Society hoped for the government of Canada to buy it, but instead a group of American drillers ended up as the owners.
Oak Island Tours (2005 – Present Day)
In April of 2006, brothers Rick and Marty Lagina from Michigan purchased 50% of Oak Island Tours from David Tobias. Blankenship owns the rest of the company. Center Road Developments, Allan Kostrzewa and Brian Urbach, who are members of the Michigan group, bought Lot 25 from David Tobias for $230,000 a year before Tobias sold his share. The Michigan group and Blankenship resumed operations on the mysterious island, hoping to find buried treasure and solve the centuries old mystery.
In July of 2010, Blankenship and the rest of the stakeholders got the license from Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, meaning they can resume their activities until December 31, 2010.After this date passed, they repealed the license and replaced it with the Oak Island Treasure Act.It is power from January 1, 2011, and allows treasure hunting to continue on the island under the terms and the license issued by the Minister of Natural Resources. Lagina brothers have a reality TV show that documents their discoveries and operations on the island. It started airing on the History channel in 2014, and is now in its sixth season.
The earliest theory is that the money pit holds a pirate treasure buried by Captain Kidd. He allegedly conspired with Henry Avery, and the island was their bank. The second pirate theory involves Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, who buried his treasures “where none but Satan and myself can find it.”
Another theory tells that the pit was made by Spanish sailors and holds treasure from a wrecked galleon, or maybe even by the British troops during the American Revolution. Some say that the British marines dug the pit because they need a place to store the loot from their invasion of Cuba. The value of this is treasure was reportedly around £1,000,000 pounds, which is about $180,000,000 in today’s economy, adjusted for inflation and currency rates. John Godwin wrote that the size and complexity of the pit show that is was the French Army engineers who hid the treasury of the Fortress of Louisburg, which fell to the British during the famous Seven Years’ War.
Marie Antoinette’s jewels
Marie Antoinette’s jewels are widely missing, except for some in museum collections. They are also thought to be on the island. On October 5, 1789, a mob of angry Parisian women workers encouraged by revolutionaries marched to the Palace of Versailles. Marie Antoinette told her maid to run with the jewels. She went to London and then Nova Scotia with the jewels and other treasures and important documents. Through royal connections, and in collaboration with the French Navy,they build the Oak Island pit. The first possible evidence for this theory appeared in 2017, when a 500-year-old brooch with a large garnet was discovered.
Penn Leary wrote in his 1953 book, The Oak Island Enigma: A History and Inquiry Into the Origin of the Money Pit wrote that the pit was used for hiding manuscripts that indicates that Francis Bacon was the author of Shakespeare’s works, as well as the leader of the Rosicrucian’s. “The Second Cryptographic Shakespeare” from 1990 identified ciphers in Shakespeare’s works that point to the authorship of Bacon.
Masonic and Rosicrucian’s Connections
In Oak Island Secrets, Mark Finnan wrote how many Masonic markings are present on Oak Island, and that the pit replicates some aspects of a Masonic initiation rite, complete with a hidden vault containing treasure. Joe Nickell draws parallels between Oak Island, the “Secret Vault” allegory in York Rite Freemasonry, and the Chase Vault on Barbados, while Steven Sora speculates that the money pit is the work of the exiled Knights Templar. It may also contain the Holy Grail, or the Ark of the Covenant.
One more theory suggests how Rosicrucian’s and Francis Bacon had plans to make the island the home of their legendary vault that hides ancient manuscripts and artifacts. Researchers and cryptographers such believe they have found codes hidden in Shakespeare’s works and other 16th and 17th century art and documents, as well as rock formations on the island. Daniel Ronnstam believes that the stone found at 90 feet or 27 m contains a dual cipher, created by non-other than Francis Bacon.
Joy Steele, an author, thinks that the pit is a tar kiln from when “Oak Island served as a tar-making location as part of the British naval stores industry”.A marine biologist, Barry Fell, tried to translate the symbols on the stone in late 1970s. He said that they resembled Coptic alphabet and read, “To escape contagion of plague and winter hardships, he is to pray for an end or mitigation the Arif: The people will perish in misery if they forget the Lord, alas.” Fell’s theory is that the Coptic migrants sailed from North Africa to the island and made the pit themselves.