FOR OVER 200 years, treasure seekers have been digging into this wooded island to find out what -- if anything -- lies buried in its reputed underground workings known as the "Money Pit." Theories range from vast riches deposited by Spanish conquistadors to the lost treasure of the Knights Templar.Oak Island is a 140-acre island in Lunenburg County on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. The tree-covered island is one of about 360 small islands in Mahone Bay and rises to a maximum of 35 feet above sea level.
Oak Island is noted as the location of the so-called Money Pit, a site of numerous excavations to recover treasure believed by many to be buried there. The island is privately owned, and advance permission is required for any visitation. Several documented treasure recovery attempts have found layers of apparently man-made artifacts as deep as 31 meters, but ended in collapsed excavations and flooding.The Money Pit tale dates back to 1795, when a local youth is said to have stumbled on an unusual depression at the foot of a large tree. When he and two friends dug into the soil, they found what appeared to be a shaft with wood platforms at 10-foot intervals.
They gave up after 30 feet, but years later joined a consortium of Nova Scotia businessmen to resume excavating. That group encountered more evidence of wood platforms, as well as layers of charcoal, putty and a brown material later identified as fiber from coconut husks. At 90 feet, they are said to have found a flat stone inscribed with unfamiliar symbols, and at 98 feet, a hard surface that some took to be the top of a chest. They stopped digging because of nightfall, but by the time they returned in the morning, the shaft had flooded with 60 feet of water. Oak Island buffs believe the excavators had discovered a booby trap engineered into the shaft through a flood tunnel connected to a nearby cove. Many also surmise that the intricate underground network must have been designed to contain buried treasure. Early theories about the likely depositor focused on Capt. William Kidd or other reputed pirates of the late 17th century; more recently, researchers have theorized about the possibility of riches from a storm-tossed Spanish galleon. Mr. Blankenship argues that whoever constructed the shaft needed extensive mining technology, manpower and loot, and "only the Spanish qualify."
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