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  Columnist: Ritoban Mukherjee

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The Oak Island Money Pit

Posted on Friday, 9 May, 2014 | 14 comments
Columnist: Ritoban Mukherjee

Seven must die before the secret is revealed - so says the legend of the enigmatic Money Pit of Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Throughout the centuries many well-respected archaeologists and excavators have attempted to illuminate its mysteries only to find themselves defeated by their own greed. What is this curse that attaches itself to this yet-to-be-solved mystery and what other secrets does the Money Pit hold ?

The Geography

Located off the southern shores of Nova Scotia in Canada, Oak Island is a 140-acre landmass amongst some 360 islands in the Mahone Bay. Upon this island there is a hole 13 feet in diameter that has come to be known as the "Money Pit".

The Discovery

In the summer of 1795, teenager Daniel McGinnis witnessed a strange light on the island while staying at his parents' house. Intrigued, he made his way there and followed the light until he reached a circular hollow 13 feet in diameter in a forest clearing. The venturesome McGinnis, in the hope of finding pirate treasure, returned the following day with companions John Smith and Anthony Vaughan. The boys began digging but after a tedious 35 feet of exploration they failed to find anything of value.

The 19th Century Expeditions

In 1804 the Onslow Company, co-formed by Simeon Lynds and Col. Robert Archibald, attempted to excavate the site. As workers started to dig they were met by several layers of timber, charcoal, sealant and coconut shells. After a tedious 90 feet, they found a stone with a strange inscripted code that was believed to read "Forty Feet Below, Two Million Pounds Are Buried."

By the time the workers reached 98ft they found themselves unable to proceed because the shaft kept filling up with water. To sidestep this problem the company tried digging a different shaft parallel to the original pit with the idea of avoiding the water layer and reconnecting to the real trench at a greater depth to extract the treasure. Unfortunately water entered the new tunnel as well and the excavation was eventually called off.

Another excavation was attempted by the Truro Company in 1845 during which workers made the valuable discovery that the water was somehow entering the Money Pit from the sea. They even used a cofferdam to withhold the water as they explored, but all they found were 3 chains of gold. The Company was ultimately disbanded in 1851.

Several more attempts were made, including one by the Oak Island Association, which tried to use a steam engine to pump out the water from the Money Pit. Tragically, the boiler burst, leading to one death and many injuries.

Successive attempts ran out of money before they could find anything substantial, but thanks to their efforts over the years the following important discoveries were made:
  • The water entering the Money Pit was salty and entered through a large vent that bifurcated into five vents and lead to Smith's Cove, an artificial beach specially constructed for the trap. The design was such that the Pit was flooded whenever anyone was close to finding the treasure.
  • Research suggested the presence of a cement vault inside the pit at a depth of about 153 feet.

Modern Pursuits

In the summer of 1909, former U.S President Franklin Roosevelt grew interested in the Money Pit mystery after spending some time in Nova Scotia. Although willful, he could not pursue investigations on the treasure owing to the war in Europe.
William Chappell and Frederick Blair undertook an excavation in 1931 and although short-lived, they managed to unearth an antique Acadian axe, a miner's pick and an oil lamp. A 1959 attempt by biker Robert Restall to seal Smith's Cove and stop the supply of water ended grievously as Restall, his son, and 2 others succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. Then came Robert Dunfield in 1965, who applied a modern 70-tonne digging crane and dug the Money Pit 140 feet deep and 100 feet in diameter. Unfortunately, all he could find were pieces of broken porcelain dishware. The Triton Alliance stepped up in 1970 but due to legal conflicts amongst owners the expedition proceeded at a snail's pace.

At the beginning of January 2014, the History Channel started a new show called "The Curse of Oak Island", featuring current owners Marty and Rick Lagina, two siblings who have been attempting to unearth the treasures of the Money Pit using modern mining technologies.

The Wild and Not-So-Wild Speculations

Several theories have sprung up over the years to explain the nature of the pit.

Pirate Loot: Two possible candidates for this theory are Captain William Kidd and Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach, who are rumored to have buried their treasures in the depths of the Money Pit. No proof exists however that either of them ever conducted any expeditions on Oak Island and it is unlikely that any pirate would have been able to construct such an elaborate and complex structure.

Naval Plunder: Theories suggest that the Money Pit may have served as the burial site for naval treasure from Fort Louisbourg during the French invasion of 1785, buried either by the British to hide it from French hands or by the French themselves after successfully snatching it from the English.

Shakespeare Conspiracy: Some believe that William Shakespeare never authored any of his plays and that the real author was Sir Francis Bacon. One theory suggests that, fearing being considered a lowly playwright, Bacon transferred credit to Shakespeare and that the Oak Island Money Pit contains evidence that he was the true author of Shakespeare's plays.

Gralien Mythology: Located somewhere on Oak Island is an arrangement of 6 boulders in the shape of a cross spanning almost 900 feet, leading to speculation that the Money Pit serves as the final resting place of the Holy Grail itself.

Natural Phenomenon: Certain skeptics have tried to reduce the mighty Oak Island mystery to a mere natural sinkhole created by geological forces. The artifacts that have been found there may simply be debris washed up from neighboring islands.

The Knight's Templar: One of our readers, Steve, did the marvelous job of acquainting me with another prevalent theory.

According to

Some observers hold that on that fateful Friday in 1307, while religious warriors were being incarcerated and ultimately burned at the cross, the mysterious wealth held by the Knights of France was simultaneously being loaded aboard a sea-faring ship. The destination of the vessel has yet to be known. One belief is that the Knights traveled to Scotland where efforts to relinquish the Order were not pursued. To evade further persecution and, perhaps, protect the Holy Grail, the Knights formed a secret society.

The secret society was, in fact, the Freemasons (with due respect to all religions, no malice intended). According to the tale, it is them that saw to it that the Holy Grail and other treasures were buried there.

Article Copyrightę Ritoban Mukherjee - reproduced with permission.

My name is Ritoban Mukherjee. The paranormal and morbid are my hobbies. I am a student and the author of a spooktacular paranormal and occult blog named All About Occult. Do visit my blog for bloodcurdling articles on morbid mysteries, dark religions, urban legends, aliens, afterlife, haunted locations and parapsychology.

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