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The Mystery of the Oak Island Money Pit

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The Mystery of the Oak Island Money Pit

oak island money pitIf you’ve never heard of the Oak Island treasure, or the legend of the Oak Island money pit just off the coast of Nova Scotia, then I have a treat for you. This week I’ve decided to provide readers with a tour of this legendary island, and a little bit about both sides of the story that goes along with it.

I say “both sides” because while there are many people that believe in and promote the original legend of this mysterious island, there are just as many people that point out the contradictory history of the island. The alternative story is just as fascinating as the original legend itself.

The Legend of the Oak Island Money Pit

The story that people have passed around about Oak Island is one that actually has different variations, depending upon who you talk to. The basic story is that around 1795 a young 16 year old man named Daniel McGinnis was visiting the secluded Oak Island on a fishing trip. Back then, the only way onto the island was by boat.

While he was exploring the island, Daniel spotted an old oak tree with strange scuff marks on a large branch, the sort of markings Daniel recognized as caused by a rope and pully system people would use at that time to lower heavy objects.

Daniel further noticed that there was an odd depression just under the tree, and immediately suspected that he’d just uncovered a secret buried treasure – left by swashbuckling pirates long ago.

After making the discovery, Daniel brought his two friends, Anthony Vaughan and John Smith, to Oak Island with picks and shovels with hopes and dreams of uncovering the secret buried treasure.

As the story is told, as the boys dug, they saw the old pick marks left on the earth from whoever had originally dug the hole. Finally, at about 1.2 meters deep the boys hit flagstones, followed by a layer of packed logs at 3 meters, then again at 6 meters, and once again at 9 meters.

The three boys realized that the treasure was probably a lot deeper than they thought. They gave up, but vowed to return to the island again some day to dig with larger equipment.

Nine years later, a little bit older and after soliciting the help of a local investor named Simeon Lynds, the young men embarked on the very first official funded dig of the Oak Island money pit.

The Oak Island Stone

Alas, all the expedition uncovered was additional wooden platforms, as well as layers of coconut fibre and putty as sealant.

As the legend is told, at 27.4 meters, the young treasure hunting company uncovered a stone that was non-native to Nova Scotia. Upon the stone was a strange inscription that they could not decipher. Later, the inscription was translated to read:

“Forty Feet Below Two Million Pounds Are Buried”

oak island treasure

This discovery obviously excited the group of treasure hunters, who continued digging to the point when water started entering into the very deep hole. Allegedly, when they returned a few days later, the hole was almost completely filled back up with seawater.

This marked the beginning of many years of additional attempts to dig at the Oak Island Money Pit, including a few lost lives and endless money sunk into what is now literally nothing more than a very real “money pit” where investors continue throwing away their money in hopes of uncovering the legendary treasure.

An Alternative Story

While you’ll find numerous sites online promoting one or more of the versions of the old Oak Island Legends, a whole other family of researchers have dug a bit more deeply into the history and uncovered the fact that many of these legends are in fact unsubstantiated and completely unsupported by any sort of real evidence.

A few examples that many of the skeptics offer include the following:

–> There’s no evidence supporting that the original three boys that discovered the hole ever existed, however three men later existed who claimed to be the boys – two of the men owned land on the island.
–> No one has confirmed that there were really nine oak platforms during the digging, and the number allegedly struck has changed through the years.
–> Skeptic charge Reverend A.T. Kempton of Cambridge Massachusetts of fabricating the symbols on the stone, since they were never actually published until 1948 when author Edward Rowe Snow published them. No one has been able to confirm the original stone ever existed. Since the symbols are suspect, so is the alleged “translation.”
–> Many theorists claim “flood tunnels” have been found that booby trap the original tunnel by filling it with water. Investigator Robert Dunfield actually explored the pit and found no tunnels. Dye tests revealed most of the water was coming from natural infiltration.

Interesting Island Features

Aside from the controversy, on thing that is certain is that the island is a very strange place. In 1936, a man by the name of Gilbert Hedden noticed a wooden formation buried in the mud on part of the island. Investigators uncovered what they believe was a a false beach, as well as a sort of old wharf or some sort of dam to hold back the sea water. The wood was carbon-dated as bing over 250 years old.

The island holds all sorts of other strange discoveries, like leather shoes buried in the mud under the western beach, drilled rocks just north of the money pit, and even rock piles under which burned human ash remains were discovered.

Oak Island enthusiasts believe the beach was the opening to the “flood tunnel,” while skeptics believe that the buried wharf is completely unrelated to the Oak Island money pit.

Much of the island through the years changes hands from one enterprising company to another.

oak island treasure

The island is a clearly a beautiful place and probably wonderful to explore, but at this point probably every inch of the island has been scoured by one treasure hunter or another. Private digs are gated off as private property.

oak island nova scotia

You’ll still have an opportunity to see some of the interesting “anomalies” along the way. Curious where any are? Some friendly explorers have even labeled them for you on Google Earth!

oak island nova scotia

Such as some of those mysterious stones and other clearings with various apparently man-made objects.

oak island nova scotia

The actual Oak Island money pit itself is at the Southwest corner of the island, about as far from the road onto the island as you can get. You might be able to find a tour company offering explorations of the island, but it depends on what the current ownership situation is at Oak Island at any given time.

If you do manage to get a tour of the island and make it to the “money pit”, this is what you’ll see.

oak island money pit

Yes, basically you’ll see a very deep hole in the ground, born from the treasure hunting legend that has gone back many generations. And no, even though there are theories about the various structures on the island being placed by everything from freemasons to aliens, not a single person has ever become rich form the island.

Except, of course, the companies that are hired to do the digging.

Image Credit: Google Earth images courtesy of Ken Boehner

Originally published on

  • Top Secret

    Interesting website guys.. thanks, enjoyed the read.

  • Thorbjørn Stenshjemmet

    Petter Amundsen, from Norway, have for the last ten years been working on interpretations of The works of Shakespeare and the story of Sir Francis Bacon. He’s theorizing that Sir Francis Bacon uses some of Shakespeare’s texts to spread a secret message of large religious meaning. The message is supposedly hidden, in code, in several of Shakespeare’s texts.

    Peter Amundsen is a cryptograph, historian and organ-player. He has, as a freemason, also a keen interest for uses of religious symbols and legends surrounding human
    history, and existential questions.

    Through his work and background, he has constructed a theory that there might be a hidden treasure on Oak Island. This treasure is a gathering of old, forgotten knowledge and
    religious documents collected by a secret organization in the 1600’s. Sir Francis Bacon was the supposed leader of the brethren.

    Petter Amundsen and Norwegian television company NRK have visited Oak Island to look further in to this story, but have not been given permission from the landowner
    to conduct any scientific examination of the area.

    Have you any knowledge of these theories, or the stories connected to it?



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