All my life I've heard stories about Oak Island and its infamous treasure hunt. So much and yet so little has been discovered on this ill-fated island over the past couple hundred years, not to mention lives lost. I've always wanted to visit but assumed the privately-owned island was off limits to the public. Not so! I recently discovered Walk the Mystery Tours are offered at $10 a pop on many summer weekends. My friend Tracey and I were completely on board for this adventure and booked tickets a few weeks in advance. I'm glad we did because our tour sold out.
We arrived before the gates to Oak Island were set to open but were ushered right on to the island behind several other cars. This gave us lots of time to peruse the small museum and gift shop with artifacts and findings discovered over the previous two centuries. Conveniently, bottled water and other beverages are available for sale. It was already a scorcher that morning, so water was much-needed.
While we waited outside for the tour to begin, we snuck a peek at the War Room featured on the History Channel's The Curse of Oak Island. The contents are top secret so the room is cordoned off and no photos are allowed. Boy, would I love to know what secrets that room holds!
Our tour guide was none other than Charles Barkhouse, the Oak Island historian featured prominently on the show. Trust me, this guy knows his stuff. He offered up a wealth of information on Oak Island and its history and mysteries over the course of two hours.
Charles pointed out many discoveries as we trekked toward the famed Money Pit, including the foundation of an old dwelling belonging to Daniel McGinnis who discovered the island and its Money Pit in 1795. Near the dwelling, an unusual Portuguese foundation stone was found. We also got a look at one of the boulders that make up Nolan's Cross: a cross formation discovered by Fred Nolan in 1981.
The scenery along the tour route was just what you'd expect from a Nova Scotian island: spectacular! We had plenty of time to take it all in and fulfill our shutterbug desires.
While filming The Curse of Oak Island, the current owners of much of the island (the Lagina brothers) tried to drain a triangle-shaped swamp believed to be man-made. A similarly shaped grouping of stones was also found nearby at Smith's Cove. One of the many Oak Island theories maintains that the Money Pit was created to divert attention from the swamp, where the real treasure is buried. During the drainage attempt, a Spanish coin was found in the swamp that pre-dates the historical discovery of the island in 1795.
Here it is! The famed Money Pit. Over the last two hundred years, many have tried to make their way to the bottom of this pit. On the way down, they have found several wooden platforms, gold links, coconut fibres, a stone tablet with a coded inscription, and booby traps. It appears tunnels to the ocean were created, which forced the flooding of the pit once dug to that level. What exactly is down there, and who was the genius behind this engineering marvel? That question has haunted many over the last two hundred years. Getting the chance to see it in person was a huge treat.
Not far from the Money Pit is Borehole 10-X. This borehole began simply as a water-flow test hole, but over the last 45 years it has provided some interesting clues. Pieces of wood, loose metal, wire, chain and cement have been found down there. Analysis of these items proves the metal pre-dates the discovery of the island in 1795, and the cement has been worked by human hands. Treasure hunter Dan Blankenship spent a lot of time and almost lost his life in this borehole. He swears he has seen tools, human remains and possibly a chest at the bottom of the hole, but could not reach them. The Lagina brothers pumped compressed air into the hole to force water and sediment up. They found bone fragments and metal pieces.
Before it was time to turn back, Charles pointed out a few more points of interest on the island. Dan Blankenship erected a memorial to four men who died in a tragic accident in 1965 after one fell in a shaft and the others perished trying to rescue him. He also showed us a stone with the letter G carved into it. This stone had been pulled from the edge of the ocean and was found carved side down. Many believe this is a clue relating to the Free Masons.
Tracey and I both enjoyed the tour and the opportunity to visit this special place. The island and its mysteries are treasure enough for me (not to mention the chance to play Vanna White).