In honor of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, a brief history of the world’s most elusive buried treasure:

In 1795, young Donald Daniel McInnis discovered a circular depression on the south eastern end of Oak Island with an adjacent tree which had a tackle block on one of its overhanging branches. McInnis, with the help of friends John Smith and Anthony Vaughan, excavated the depression and discovered a layer of flagstones a few feet below. On the pit walls there were visible markings from a pick. As they dug down they discovered layers of logs at about every ten feet. They abandoned the excavation at 30 feet.

Layers of logs every ten feet. Trees don’t chop themselves up and plant their remains in the ground, do they?

About eight years later, another company examined what was to become known as the Money Pit. The Onslow Company sailed 300 nautical miles from central Nova Scotia near Truro to Oak Island with the goal of recovering what they believed to be secret treasure. They continued the excavation down to approximately 90 feet and found layers of logs or "marks" about every ten feet and layers of charcoal, putty and coconut fibre at 40, 50 and 60 feet.

More layers of logs. Those trees are crazy. Now they’re burning themselves before going underground, too. And don’t get me started on putty and coconut fibre. Those guys are known worldwide for their shenanigans.

According to one of the earliest written accounts, a newspaper article called "The Oak Island Diggings" from the Liverpool Transcript (Oct 1862) at 80 or 90 feet they recovered a large stone bearing an inscription of symbols. The pit subsequently flooded up to the 33 foot level. Bailing did not reduce the water level and the excavation was abandoned.

The symbols on the stone were roughly translated: Oak Island Sewer System. Do not break.

Investors formed The Truro Company in 1849, which re-excavated the shaft back down to the 86 foot level where it flooded again. They then drilled into the ground below the bottom of the shaft. According to the 19th century account, the drill or "pod auger" passed through a spruce platform at 98 feet, a 12 inch head space, 22 inches of what was described as "metal in pieces", 8 inches of oak, another 22 inches of metal, 4 inches of oak, another spruce layer, and finally into clay for 7 feet without striking anything else.

Now metal and spruce have joined the act. Oh wait, spruce is wood. Wood comes from trees. Nevermind.

One account states they recovered three small gold links of a chain from mud stuck to the drill. They attempted to prevent the pit from flooding by damming Smith's Cove, and later by excavating a shaft into what was believed to be a flood tunnel from the sea to block it and prevent the pit from filling with water.

The next excavation attempt was made in 1861 by a new company called the Oak Island Association and apparently led to the collapse of the bottom of the shaft into a suspected void or booby trap underneath. The first fatality during excavations occurred when the boiler of a pumping engine burst. The company gave up when they exhausted their funds in 1864.

A booby trap? Those trees are serious.

Numerous further excavations were made in 1866, 1893, 1909, 1931,1935, 1936, and 1959, none of which were successful. Franklin Roosevelt (later President of the United States) was part of the Old Gold Salvage group of 1909 and kept up with news and developments for most of his life. About six people have been killed in accidents during various excavations.

Accidents? Or vicious tree murders? You decide.

[For the complete history of Oak Island and the Money Pit, visit]

1 Responses to “ahoy and/or avast”

  1. # Anonymous james

    those idiots digging into a sewer.  

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