What is Oak Island?

The fog on Oak Island, Nova Scotia.
The fog on Oak Island, Nova Scotia.

Who Owns Oak Island?

Oak Island in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada, is a privately owned island. It covers an area of about 57-hectare and is one of the more than 360 islands located in Mahone Bay. Oak island rises about 36 feet above sea level. It lies 600 feet from the shoreline and connects to the mainland through a gate and a causeway. As of 2017, 78% of the island was owned by Oak Island Tours Inc., which is in turn owned by Dan Blankenship and David Tobias while the remaining 22% is owned by several families.

History Of Oak Island

The rural community on the Western Shore is the nearest community to the island while Chester is the closest town. By the 1750s, French fishermen who were the first European residents to inhabit the town of Chester had begun to construct houses on the site. After the Acadians were expelled during the Seven Years' War, the government of Nova Scotia adopted measures to encourage New Englanders to settle in the area by providing land through the Shoreham grant. The Island of Oak was awarded to the Seacombe, Young, Lynch, and Monro families. In 1761 settlers from Massachusetts became the first major group to arrive in Chester. In 1762 the island was subdivided into four equal parts and was locally referred to as "Smith's Island," by the settlers. In 1965, a causeway was constructed by Robert Dunfield. Today, 78% of the island is owned by Oak Island Tours while the rest is owned by independent families.

Mystery Of The Oak Island.

For about a century and a half, several people have hunted, investigated and excavated the Island in search of treasure believed to be buried somewhere on the island. About fifty books recounting the history of the island and developing theories concerning the treasure have been published. The Money pit is the most researched place on the island although critics argue that no treasure was concealed within the sink hole.

History Of The Money Pit

During the 19th century, various accounts concerning treasure on Oak island came to light. A widely accepted account involved a man known "McGinnis" who discovered a sinkhole on his farm. Earlier settlers of the Island had told tales of a dying sailor who had buried treasure on the island and McGinnis believed that the sinkhole was where the treasure was buried. While digging the site, he realized that there were tool marks and the soil was much easier to excavate than other sites meaning that it had been excavated before. However, McGinnis and his two assistants had to stop the excavation at 30 ft. after the local community refused to help to dig up the site due to superstitious beliefs. Between 1800 and 1849 the Onslow and Truro Companies began excavating the site with hopes of finding the secret treasure. Onslow company excavated the site to about 90 feet and came across several stones bearing inscriptions before they gave up after it constantly filled up with water.

Researchers tried to decipher the inscriptions, and one of the researchers claimed that it stated: "Forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried." Truro company was formed in 1849 and began 're-excavating the site. The excavators came across several layers of Oak and clay before they ceased the digging without finding anything else. Between 1861–1864, the Oak Island Association began drilling another shaft adjacent to the original shaft with the aim of preventing flooding. During the excavation, the foot of the original shaft collapsed into the new shaft and theories emerged that the treasure chest had fallen into a deeper hole meant to protect it in case excavators came close to finding it. The excavation was called off in 1864. Between 1896 and 1967 several organizations excavated the site unsuccessfully. In 1967 Triton Alliance bought a large part of the island including the sinkhole and began excavating a 235-foot shaft that was reinforced with steel. Cameras lowered into the shaft revealed possible presence of human remains and tools, wooden cribbing and probably some chest, however, the shaft collapsed, and the excavation was called off. In April 2010 Oak Island Tours owned by the brothers Rick and Marty Lagina acquired the rights from the Canadian government to begin excavating the site. In January 2011 the rights were renewed, and the excavation is still ongoing to date.

Theories Of The Sinkhole

Several researchers dismiss the theory that the sinkhole occurred due to the hidden treasure and they explained that it was a natural sinkhole just like several others found across the globe. The theory that it is a natural sinkhole is supported by the fact that there are several sinkholes on the Island. Other theorists claimed that the jewels belonging to Marie Antoinette were hidden in the sinkhole during the French Revolution after she ordered one of her maids to take them and flee. Others believed that the sinkhole holds the manuscripts which prove that Shakespeare's work was authored by Francis Bacon. Other theories state that it holds religious artifacts although artifact related to religion were never excavated from the sinkhole.

The Curse Of The Oak Island

On January 5, 2014, the History channel aired the premier show of the reality television series “the curse of oak island” which focuses on brothers Marty and Rick Lagina in the effort to uncover the 220-year-old mystery of the Oak Island. Backed by modern and advanced technology, they comb the island in search of historical artifacts and treasure. The television series explores the history of Oak Island, discoveries made and theories pertaining to the sinkhole. As of August 2017, there were four seasons and 39 episodes with the last episode being aired on February 21, 2017. The show began in 2014 and the last season was produced at the cost of $1,271,546. According to the show creator Kevin Burns, the production of the fifth season of the show depended on the Lagina brothers citing that the brothers were reluctant on participating in the fifth season. Kevin Burns further stated that the production of the show is still uncertain.


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