oak island history

Oak Island Treasure Dream Job Became A Reality

Many children fantasize about what they want to be when they grow up and what their dream job would be like, but not many of them get to fulfill those dreams once they grow up. Scott Barlow is an example of a grown up who made proud the child in himself, because of a phone call he received in 2018, which changed his life. „How often does somebody call you up and say: ‘Hey, you want to be part of a treasure hunt?’“, Barlow recalls.

As many of you may know, The Curse of Oak Island is currently airing its seventh season on The History Channel, and during the most of 2019, Barlow worked as a project manager of Oak Island Tours, the company in charge for digging for the legendary lost treasure of the island. He could be seen in the show, often digging through the dirt or scrutinizing and serving survey data and historical records.

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At the age of 12, Barlow read Joan Clark’s adventure novel The Hand Of Robyn Squires, which is linked to finds in the alleged Money Pit on Oak Island off the coast of Nova Scotia. The whole story was very interesting to Barlow as he explained: „Since then, I was hooked.“

Oak Island History

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Oak Island mystery has aroused the curiosity of people around the world, and also inspired many to dream of becoming treasure hunters.

There aren’t many verified information about early treasure-related activities on the island, but the stories about it go back to the late eighteenth century.

The original story about the treasure follows a dying sailor from the crew of Captain Kidd, who decides to burry the treasure worth £2 million. All that has gained a plot twist in 1795, when four teenagers found the decayed oak-log and an unusual pulley system. After digging as much as they could and finding no treasure, they decided to give up. However, they found more tunnels around the island, which are believed to be part of a sophisticated system of traps designed to flood the main shatf with water, which would prevent anyone to get to whatever lies at the bottom.

Various items were found there over the years, including ancient coins, stone carvings, coconut fible, and a lead cross. After all those discoveries, scienties, historians, and writers have been coming up with different theories about what might have happened on Oak Island. Those theories range from pirate treasure, to Shakespearean manuscripts. Some believe that the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant, have been burried there by the Knights Templar.

Several attempts to find the mystery of the Oak Island have been inspired by legends, rumors, and unproven theories. The treasure hunt have cost millions of dollars. The curse of the island states that seven men will die in the search for the treasure before it is found. To date, six men have died trying to find it.

The Arrival of Internet

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Barlow was very keen on reading and learning anything he could find about the Oak Island mystery from books and articles that were available to him. In 1990s, when the internet arrived, the informations and community of people with the same interest like his, were much more available.

After finding out about the announcement from The History Channel, about plans to air a show based on the mystery of Oak island and the search for its treasures, Barlow felt overwhelming happiness.

„Information was hard to come by, and a lot of people who do that kind of work, they don’t really make a public report every day of what they find. You were always going on bits and pieces and scraps and hearsay, and all that stuff. At least the show gives you a little insight.“

Thanks to Internet, and their mutual interest in the mystery of Oak Island, Barlow met a historian and Oak Island researcher, Doug Crowell. In 2018, Crowell decided to call Barlow and ask him to help with the treasure hunt and solving the mystery of the island. And that is when Barlow’s transition from fan to treasure hunter became real.

A year after that, the Lagina brothers, Rick and Marty, who own most of the Island, offered Barlow the project manager’s job of Oak Island Tours. Till then, the brothers had co-ordinated most of the work themselves.

The Work

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Barlow said that part of his job is to be a co-ordinator between the Lagina brothers and their partners.

„(I was) kind of the go-between guy between the contractors and the owners. It was my job to make sure everything was moving forward.“

Thanks to his unique set of skills and his knowledge about the island, Barlow is the great addition to the team. Rick Lagina agreed with that, saying: „Scott brought a valuable set of skills to Oak Island. His calm demeanour, critical analysis and mechanical expertise are invaluable. Scott proved daily he was invested, sincere and committed and we are all extremely appreciative of his participation and friendship.“

Barlow’s combination of plumbing, mechanical and electrical skills are helpful for his company Mechanical Solutions too.

Having A Dream Job

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„The work has been a challenging and rewarding experience. There are lots of days there where you leave and you’re right at the top of the world. You had a great day. Then there are other days where things didn’t turn out the way you hoped. It’s an emotional rollercoaster,“ Barlow explained.

Some days are hectic and the crew has a lot of job that needs to be done, while other days are more about brainstorming and coming up with where the next digging should take place, or theorizing about the mystery.

Barlow talked about being on the show, saying: „One of the toughest parts of the job was getting used to all the TV cameras and crews trailing along behind as you worked.“

He also explained that the viewers see the results of their efforts, but not all the things that happened before that, including days of fruitless search. However, the show has the accurate representation of the work, it is just that it is more compressed.

Barlow is very happy to be part of all of it. He doesn’t want to reveal what will happend next, because he wants fans to see it for themselves. He said: „Last year was our biggest effort yet in terms of the work done. We had some major strides forward in terms of learning things. We have (gained) a better understanding, in the last year, of some of the island than people have had ever … and of course, in typically Oak Island fashion, you find one thing and it leads to more questions.“

Mystery of Oak Island – What Secrets does the Island Hold?


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bacon-Shakespeare Connection

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.

Img source: oakislandmoneypit.com

Other Theories

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.