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Mysteries of People and Places
By Phyllis Raybin Emert
Sagebrush Education ResourcesCopyright © 2000 Phyllis Raybin Emert
All right reserved.
The location of the buried treasure on Oak Island is a well-known fact. Only three-quarters of a mile long and half a mile wide, Oak Island lies in Mahone Bay off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. So why hasn’t anyone claimed the treasure in nearly two hundred years? Many have tried, spending huge amounts of time and money in their search. Yet all have failed to solve the mystery of the “money pit.”
It all started in 1795 when a young boy named Daniel McGinnis went exploring on Oak Island. Daniel came upon a large tree in a clearing and noticed a round, sunken area in the ground nearby. He also found the remains of what was once a road.
“It looks as if something’s buried here,” thought Daniel. “Pirates used this island as a hideout years ago. Maybe it’s the treasure of Blackbeard or Captain Kidd!”
Daniel returned the next morning with two friends. The three boys carried picks and shovels. They started to dig beneath the tree and uncovered a circle-shaped shaft. Four feet down, they found a layer of flagstones. Ten feet down, they came upon a platform of oak logs. This was definitely a man-made pit!
“Look,” shouted Daniel as heheld up his prize, “it’s a rusty old ship’s whistle!”
A few feet farther down, the boys discovered a copper coin with the date 1713.
“It won’t be long now until we get to the treasure,” Daniel declared.
At 20 feet there was another platform of oak logs. At 30 feet, they came upon still another plat-form.
This was only the beginning for Daniel McGinnis and his friends. They didn’t give up on the treasure. Year after year, they dug in the pit whenever they had free time. As they grew older, two of the boys married and brought their brides to live on Oak Island so that they could remain close to the treasure. Daniel and his friends were sure that they would someday reach their goal.
In 1804, a wealthy man named Dr. John Lynds joined in the search for the treasure. But every 10 feet they dug, the workers hit another platform of
Deeper and deeper they dug. At 93 feet, they discovered layers of charcoal, putty, and coconut fiber. The fiber was definitely brought to the island from somewhere else, since it couldn’t be found locally. Next, they found a large, flat tablet covered with markings that looked like writing.
It has been said that the markings were later deciphered to read “Two million pounds be buried 10 feet below.” But many are doubtful that this is the true meaning.
At 95 feet, the hole mysteriously filled with 60 feet of water. A second shaft dug next to the original also filled with water, and the digging had to be stopped.
Another group tried again in 1849. This time they used a pod auger drill to dig deeper into the original shaft. At 98 feet, the drill went through what was believed to be the treasure chamber, and the workers discovered three gold links from a chain. But the constant flow of water prevented them from bringing up the treasure.
The treasure hunters found that the water was flowing in from the ocean at nearby Smith’s Cove. A seawater channel had been dug by whoever buried the treasure to prevent people from taking it!
Over the years, more digging expeditions were attempted. Although these also failed, more was discovered about the money pit. The treasure chests at 98 feet were just a portion of the riches. A cement chamber uncovered at 151 feet was thought to hold the real treasure.
As digging continued, a second seawater channel that protected the treasure was discovered. A drill brought up a piece of parchment with letters on it in 1893. An iron plate was discovered in place 170 feet down.
Attempts were made to stop the flow of water from the ocean. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent, but nothing was successful. After so much digging, the pit eventually became such a mass of slippery mud that the original shaft and treasure chests couldn’t even be located.
To this day, the treasure is still waiting to be taken. How much is it worth? Who put it there? These questions remain unanswered. Many people feel it must be an extremely valuable treasure for someone to have gone to the trouble of protecting it in such a complicated way.
Many believe a pirate or group of pirates buried the treasure on Oak Island. Captain William Kidd has often been linked to the money pit. Others say a French army pay ship concealed the treasure to hide it from the British.
One thing is certain: a large number of men must have worked for a long time to build the elaborate seawater system that protects the treasure. But how could even the designer of the money pit then come back to claim the treasure? It is believed that there was some type of secret gate or dam system that shut off the ocean water. But no one knows where this is located or how it might work.
Expert engineers are convinced that with modern equipment and unlimited financing, the treasure could easily be located, but that has been said many times before.
Will the mystery of the money pit ever be solved? No one knows. The challenge of the unknown and the possibility of great wealth continue to fascinate treasure seekers everywhere.
Copyright © 1992 by RGA Publishing Group, Inc.
Excerpted from Mysteries of People and Places by Phyllis Raybin Emert Copyright © 2000 by Phyllis Raybin Emert. Excerpted by permission.
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