Mysterious Lands Oak Island

About the mysterious land of Oak Island in Nova Scotia and the search for buried treasure.


Location: Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

The Enigma: Evidence of buried treasure was found on Oak Island in 1795. Since then, people have been digging for that treasure almost constantly, but no one has managed to unearth it, even though its location is known exactly.

The original discoverers of the treasure were 3 young woodsmen who were canoeing out on the bay. They saw live oaks, which were not indigenous to the area, growing on one of the islands and went over to investigate. On shore, they found a heavy ring bolt, the kind used to moor ships, and, in a clearing, there was a giant oak tree, covered with marks and figures. One of its branches had been cut off 4' from the trunk. Under it was a depression. The men began to dig immediately, not knowing they were beginning a monumental task that would take months. Ten feet below the surface of the ground, they uncovered an oak platform. There was another platform at 20', another at 30'. Realizing that digging any farther would involve more resources than they had, they gave up. However, others soon took up the search for the treasure in what became known as the "Money Pit."

In 1849, a syndicate decided to drill into the site to see what lay below the previous diggings. At 98', the drill hit oak, and under the oak, judging by the shreds of gold that clung to the drill, part of the treasure. At that point, seawater surged into the hole from an underground chamber which was somehow connected to the ocean.

Since then, many people have, with no success, tried to get to the treasure, which lies 170' deep in the earth and is elaborately guarded by tunnels, tides, and wooden platforms. One of the diggers was the young Franklin Roosevelt. More than $1.5 million has been spent on excavations to date.

Some Explanations: Gilbert Heddon, an American, investigated the possibility that the treasure was buried by Captain Kidd. In a book, he found a chart of the island on which Kidd was supposed to have hidden his treasure. It was remarkably like Oak Island. But when Heddon hunted up the book's author, he learned that the island on Kidd's map was in the South Seas.

Why did the people who buried the treasure do it so elaborately? And how did they do it? Obviously it took a tremendous amount of manpower and time. How did they expect to retrieve the treasure? One theory is that the gold belonged to the French fortress at Louisbourg and was buried on Oak Island by men from its garrison, who would have had the time and manpower for such a project.

Other theories, which are weaker, trace the treasure to Marie Antoinette and to a Spanish galleon.

Today: Digging is still going on at Oak Island.

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