What Is the Legend of Oak Island Money Pit?
Last Updated May 30, 2023 by Tim Trott. First Published in 2014.
1,157 words, estimated reading time 4 minutes.
Discovered in 1795, the Money Pit is reportedly the site of a treasure trove, however nobody has been able to reach the treasure.
In 1795 a young boy paddled his canoe from the mainland of Nova Scotia to an offshore island. On the island, he stumbled upon the Money Pit. Since then, treasure hunters have been trying to unlock its secret.
Oak Island lies in Mahone Bay, off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is named Oak Island on account of the growth of oak trees which once flourished upon it.
The tale of the Money Pit started at some point in 1795, when Daniel McGinnis gently paddled his canoe across the bay. Little did he know that Oak Island conceals one of the most strangest mysteries on earth.
For just about 200 years prospectors have sought buried treasure in what's referred to as the Money Pit. Many have sunk their life savings into the challenge; others have paid with their lives.
Daniel McGinnis wandered the seashore and stumbled upon a circular depression within the ground, about 4.8m in diameter. Having grown up with stories of swashbuckling pirates, Daniel was convinced he had stumbled upon buried treasure. He set sail and returned home for the evening, however, returned the following day together with his friends, picks and shovels.
As they started to dig, it was obvious that they had been in some kind of man-made pit because it still bore pick marks on its clay walls. As they dug deeper, they hit a layer of flagstones at 1.2 metres deep. As they dug deeper, they hit additional layers of logs at 3 metres, 6 metres and 9 metres. Realising that they needed extra equipment, they returned to the mainland.
It was to be 9 years before they returned, however, this time they'd financed a complete scale excavation. As the shaft was sunk deeper, more platforms had been discovered at 12m, 15.2m and 18.2m. At 24.4 metres they hit an oak platform and at 27.4 metres a stone bearing an inscription. After wedging the stone out, they came upon yet another layer of logs. They had been convinced that the treasure was buried underneath this layer. Night fell, and water was turning into an issue, so they stopped to rest for the night. When they returned on Monday morning, they discovered the shaft flooded.
They bailed out the water as quickly as they might with an outdated pump, however, the water level did not move. They abandoned the workings for the year, returning to their farms until the next spring. The following year after they returned, they were able to dig down to 33 metres, however, the shaft walls collapse and it flooded once again. They were fortunate to escape with their lives.
It was not until 1849 that a 2nd expedition was launched. They re-dug the original shaft all the way down to a depth of 26.2 metres without issues. They called a halt on Saturday evening, attended church on Sunday and returned after service to find the shaft flooded once more. After attempting various pumping and bailing methods, they were not able to reduce the water level and were back at square one.
The next day, they hired a drill and pod auger, which was pushed by a horse. It could drill into the ground and bring up materials and soil samples. The drilling foreman, James Pitblado, was accused of scooping up something shiny as he inspected the material from the auger. The workmen demanded that he produced the item, however, refused, declaring that he would present the object at the subsequent meeting of the people funding the operation. He later attempted to buy the entire eastern end of Oak Island, however, he quickly vanished and was never seen again.
In 1850 a brand new shaft was sunk, and after what appeared like success, was once again flooded. After this mishap, they set about fixing the issue. From the samples taken, they discovered that the pit was being flooded by seawater, and at the nearby seashore, the treasure seekers discovered an incredible secret of the Money Pit.
They spotted that as the tide receded, the sand appeared to suck the water down. One digger described that it "seemed as if the earth was thirsty". Whoever had dug the Money Pit had additionally built an inventive drainage system. If the shaft were ever breached to a certain depth, it would be flooded. They attempted many various strategies for defeating this system, all of which failed. They constructed dams, sunken drainage shafts and used dynamite. None of them worked. They did manage to drill down deeper, and came across a layer of iron, followed by soft stone then oak. They retrieved a piece of parchment with the letters V.I written on it. After they retrieved the sample, the shaft once again flooded.
Eventually, they found out that there were yet more defensive structures protecting the treasure. By now, the diggers were bankrupt, and investments dried up.
Several extra expeditions have been launched by private ventures in 1909, 1930, 1936 and once more in 1963. It was in this latest undertaking that the pit claimed its next casualties. On the 17th of August, Robert Restall was overcome by the exhaust fumes from his water pump, and both he and his son and two other men who attempted to rescue them died.
In 1971 the Triton Alliance Company with the help of modern mining technology, submarine television cameras and diving apparatus failed to find any treasure.
Since 2006, brothers Rick and Marty Lagina have owned much of the island and carried out extensive archaeological investigations not only of the money pit but all around the island including the swamp. They found coins, metal, wood and even coconut fibres on the island which provide tantalising evidence of habitation and a possible treasure trove. They have sunk many boreholes which have uncovered mining tunnels, old excavations and other unknown wooden structures buried in the ground. Radar and ground surveys have shown promising locations, only for excavations to uncover nothing. Magnetic surveys show deposits of metal, yet none were found when dug. Underwater radars and UAVs show what appears to be man-made structures and metallic objects in caverns, yet when divers are sent down they cannot find anything resembling such structures. Each time they come close to uncovering a secret, fate snatches it away from them. Floods, cave-ins, weather or vanishing radar signals.
To this present day, no one has ever discovered any treasure, and still no one is aware of who dug this feat of engineering. Some consider that it used to be the hiding place for Captain Kidd's treasure trove, whilst others consider that this is a secret gold cache buried by British Army engineers during the American Civil War. Other theories include masonic treasure, knights templars, the Ark of the Covenant, and crashed UFOs. The list is endless.
Whatever is down there, the secret lies within the mud, alongside the bodies, sweat and money which have been lost looking for the secret of the Money Pit.
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