I have decided to share another story of local folklore, I call it folklore loosely because the story itself is true, however if the island really holds treasure is another story.
So you may or may not have heard of the infamous Money Pit on Oak Island that locals and non-locals alike have been trying to excavate for over 200 years, which usually ends in collapse of the Money Pit, flooding and usually death or tragedy. The island itself is a 140 acre island in Lunenburg county just outside of a community called Western Shore in Nova Scotia. It is now the site of a reality TV Show on History called The Curse of Oak Island.
In 1795 a young local named Daniel McGinnis noticed lights on the island and decided to check it out with some friends. He found a circular hollow in a clearing on the southeastern area of the island. They proceeded to excavate it and found some flagstones a few feet below. Every 10 feet there were layers of logs that had been placed there by someone. They were absolutely sure this was man made. This was the beginning to a 200 year long treasure hunt that is still going on to this day!
Many companies and individuals have attempted to excavate the Money Pit and so far, none of them, have succeeded in unearthing the mysterious treasure that is said to have been buried there. They have managed to expose a number of artifacts over the years including a large stone bearing an inscription of symbols which many researchers tried to decipher. One translated as saying “forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.”
There are many theory’s as to what the treasure is and who buried it there, including skeptics that believe the Money Pit is a naturally occurring phenomena, a sinkhole that occurred due to natural caverns below. They even believe the platforms of logs are trees that have been blown down due to high winds in the area at certain times of years and either fell or were washed into the sinkhole.
The most popular theory that I have heard is that it is pirate treasure buried there by Captain Kidd before his capture in Boston in 1699. Blackbeard (Edward Teach) claimed he had hid treasure “where none but Satan and myself can find it.”, because of this there is also a theory that he may have buried his vast fortunes on the island.
Another theory suggests that it is Marie Antoinette’s Jewels, hidden 5 or 6 years before when a lady-in-waiting fled with Marie Antoinette’s Jewels at the request of Marie Antoinette herself when the Palace of Versailles was besieged by revolutionaries in 1789. It is proposed by some that this woman fled to London and then employed the French army to take her to to Nova Scotia and find an island there to conceal the jewels, other artifacts and documents to keep them safe.
There is also speculation that it could be Naval treasure such as the treasure from the Fortress of Louisbourg after it fell to the British during the Seven Years’ War or that it is Freemason treasure (think Night’s Templar) and that it may be the last resting place of the Holy Grail or even the holy Ark of the Covenant.
No matter what the theories are one thing remains the same, a multitude of people or companies have tried to excavate the pit over the last 200 or more years and there has been a number of tragedy’s associated with the island and Money Pit. The first of which, in 1861 the Oak Island Association installed a cast iron pump and steam engine in order to pump the water out of the Money Pit which was being standard practice on the island for excavating the pit. While trying to drain the tunnel a boiler exploded fatally scalding one worker and injuring several others.
In 1909 Franklin Delano Roosevelt joined the Old Gold Salvage and Wrecking Company and spent the summer on the shores of Nova Scotia and remained interested until the outbreak of WW1 in Europe.
Another tragedy befell the Restall family, who dedicated five years of their life to finding the treasure on the island, in August 1965. Robert Restall and his son Bobbie where working the pit when Robert leaned over the tunnel to inspect his work and was overcome by noxious gas emanating from the pit and lost consciousness, tumbling into the pit and the waters below. His son rushed to help him and also fell victim to the fumes. Two other nearby workers not realizing what the issue was rushed to help and fell victim as well. By the end of that day 6 people had succumbed to the Money Pit and were lost.
Many people (or companies) have gone bankrupt trying to excavate the pit or have fallen victim to the Money Pit and the treasures that supposedly lie below. If you would like to read more about Oak Island and the famed Money Pit you can do so here.
So, what did you think? I included a few pictures below from June 2011 when my ex-boyfriend and I went on a tour, which I will being doing again September 14th, 2014. I am really excited to take more pictures. I may make this into a weekly or monthly post, depending on how many stories that I can remember and/or research. I enjoy history. I love folklore and I relish a good story!
In order to keep the post smaller on the front page I have put the images behind a [more] tag. Please click here to see the images.