Since I was young, I was always fascinated by mysteries. They are like reading stories for which the ending has not been written yet. Frustrating but also intriguing. After all these years, there are still a handful of mysteries that I am still fond of. One of the mysteries that I came across earliest is the mystery of the “Money Pit of Oak Island”. Carolina Squirrel investigates.
The story begins in 1797 when a teenager, Daniel McGinnis, was exploring Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada when he came across a depression in the ground. Directly above the depression was a block and tackle hanging from a tree branch. Intrigued and suspecting perhaps that this could be a site of buried pirate’s treasure, he got a couple of friends to come back with him to excavate the hole.
About two feet below the surface, they found flagstones. Digging deeper they found a layer of oak logs at 10 feet intervals until they reached about 30 feet down when they were forced to stop. Over the years, a number of different explorers and even treasure hunting companies have tried to excavate the money pit.
In 1803, the Onslow Company excavated to a depth of 90 feet before they were stopped by seawater flooding the pit. The oak logs continued to appear at 10 feet intervals but they also discovered a layer of charcoal at 40 feet, putty at 50 feet and coconut fiber at 60 feet. Even more surprising, at 90 feet, a stone inscribed with mysterious symbols was found.
One well known translation of the stone’s inscription is “Forty feet below, two million pounds are buried.” but many doubt the accuracy of the translation.
The flooding was believed to have been caused by the excavators triggering a booby trap which opened a 500 foot flood tunnel to nearby Smith’s Cove. If true, this makes this money pit incredibly sophisticated as an engineering project.
In support of this claim, investigations at Smith’s Cove show that there is an 145 foot length of beach which has been altered. It was discovered that there were five channels dug into the clay below the sand. There channels converge into one and are filled with rocks and covered with eel grass and several inches of coconut fiber. This functions like a filter which allows the channels to remain unblocked by sediment and is believed to draw seawater into the money pit some 500 feet away. When tested by carbon dating, the coconut fibers were found to be at least 770 years old. Who carried out this amazing engineering feat all that long time ago?
Unable to excavate further due to the flooding, a later company tried collecting drill samples to find out what lied beyond. At 98 feet, they found a layer of spruce pine, followed by a layer of scrap metal until about 104 feet deep where there was another layer of spruce.
And so the discoveries continued and so did the mystery deepen. Over the years, the picture of the pit developed. The entrance of the flood tunnel from Smith’s Cove was found. In 1899, a second flood tunnel originating from the South Shore Cove was found. At about 120 feet a layer of oak and iron was found at a haphazard angle. It is believed that this layer actually fell down from a higher level of the pit.
At about 16o feet down, a cement vault 7 feet tall and 7 inch thick was found by drilling which also pulled up fragments of a sheep skin parchment with writing on it. Below that were more layers of soft metal. Despite all efforts and a number of deaths, no one has succeeded in going further.
The mystery remains. Who built it? How on earth did they manage to build something so large and sophisticated all those centuries ago? What really lies at the bottom of the pit?
If you haven’t got any summer plans yet, you might consider trying going treasure hunting and solve this mystery.