Oak Island
January 9, 2003 10:01 PM   Subscribe

The Mystery Pit of Oak Island. In 1795, two boys found a treasure map on Oak Island, on the coast of Nova Scotia; two hundred years, tens of millions of dollars and six lives later, the island is nearly obliterated with holes and excavations, and no one is any richer... The story of Oak Island makes a fine allegory for pursuing phantom riches at the expense of all else, in addition to just making a damn fine story.
posted by jonson (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When me and me brother were naught but wee lads we set upon the fair lande of Los Angeles and a treasure map found we. Old and curled at the edges, it told of a large booty buried deep in the earthe, gold as men have never seen, and jewels of such quality as queens would weep before.

The map did tell of an establishement where the men would gather and drink of the tincture of the caffe bean. T'was a jolly place, well-lit inside, with the mark of a star over the door, and colored green as the April heath.

Arr... if only I was young, I'd get down there and start a'diggin fer riches.
posted by scarabic at 10:34 PM on January 9, 2003

Thank you, Jonson (not just for this, but your other great recent contributions)

This reminded me of a book my parents have that I read constantly in my youth. I suspect that it was a Reader's Digest Condensed Book, but it contained some great illustrations of the methods that pirates would employ to booby-trap their treasure. I'm gonna have to dig that one up at my parents house this weekend.
posted by ttrendel at 10:42 PM on January 9, 2003

Ha. I read about Oak Island years ago, probably in some 'mysteries of the unknown' book in my primary school library. I'd forgotten all about it. Thanks for the link, Jonson.
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:00 PM on January 9, 2003

Hey Sonny Jim & ttrendel, thanks! Actually, it's funny you both mention, cause I heard about this one as a kid as well, but as the years passed it completely dropped off my radar, and it wasn't until recently that I thought of it again; I couldn't remember anything about it except that it happened off the coast of Nova Scotia. Thank God for Google.

Also, if this kind of thing interests you, check out the root site of the link, the unmuseum, there are many cool things there, it was a neat by product of the Google search.
posted by jonson at 11:04 PM on January 9, 2003

It seems that authors Lincoln Child and Douglas J. Preston also had great interest in this historical saga. The island in the fiction "Riptide" is based on the historical saga of Oak Island.
posted by lucien at 11:13 PM on January 9, 2003

i'm positive this was on an episode of "in search of" -- could any other children of the 70's confirm this?

Bate's idea was that there was enough pirate activity between 1650 and 1750 off the coast of Nova Scotia to warrant several pirate groups getting together and building a dry dock to maintain their ships.

good lord, i love people like that. "seriously, dude, it was like a pirate collective effort, man . . ."
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:19 PM on January 9, 2003

Indeed the flood tunnel trap built into the pit in some ways reminds one of the false doors and granite plugs found in Egyptian tombs to prevent grave robbing.

right on, man. right on.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:22 PM on January 9, 2003

Goonies never say die!!!
posted by PenDevil at 11:26 PM on January 9, 2003

i first read about Oak Island sometime in the 80s. i remember watching a TV program about it but can't remember which one.

btw, FDR was also interested in the mystery and visited the island sometime before he became president.
posted by deborah at 11:30 PM on January 9, 2003

Definitely an episode of In Search Of, which was filmed when work on Oak Island was still in progess. The site hasn't been touched in almost twenty years, now.
posted by KiloHeavy at 1:01 AM on January 10, 2003

Here is a Skeptical Inquirer article on the subject. The author thinks it is not man-made at all.
posted by Potsy at 1:18 AM on January 10, 2003

Great link! Also in the first or second Straight Dope book, and online here.
posted by drobot at 2:04 PM on January 10, 2003

I recently read articles about this island being on sale, but all the articles that google pointed to were deleted at the source.
posted by titboy at 3:20 PM on January 10, 2003

Great link, I love stories like this. Thanks, jonson. [this is good]
posted by cell divide at 3:30 PM on January 10, 2003

Oak Island, Bigfoot/Sasquatch and UFO's used to take up a lot of my reading time when I was a wee lad. I loved to read all the details and speculate what may be.

Of course, I grew up eventually.

And I do remember the "In Search Of" broadcast on the PBS-type station, TV-Ontario, many many years ago.
posted by grum@work at 4:31 PM on January 10, 2003

I was obesessed with Oak Island for a few months in the early 80's after reading about it in a fact book or magazine. I even begged my folks that our vacation to St. John and Halifax include a detour to Oak Island. That was nixed.

I rediscovered the legend a few years ago, but I hadn't thought about it in months. Thanks for that, Johnson.

(Side note: FDR was interested in Oak Island primarily because he summered in the Maritimes (Compobello, N.B.) and liked to sail.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:32 PM on January 10, 2003

Clearly, the theme here is that growing up, at some point, you WILL hear about this place, and it WILL fascinate you for a while, and then, eventually, like the other fascinations of your childhood, it will pass. Funny (and oddly touching) that what I had thought was such a personal interest was so universal, at least here.
posted by jonson at 4:46 PM on January 10, 2003

Seems like some mega-millionaire would like the story enough to blow enough cash to get to the bottom of this (pun intended). I know I would...
posted by maniactown at 4:53 PM on January 10, 2003

Maybe the true treasure we all search for is the lost wonder and joy we used to have as children, found only by the map etched in our souls and by sailing adrift on the glimmering seas of imagination that awash our fantasies.

Or maybe some fuck found and pawned it already.
posted by Stan Chin at 5:03 PM on January 10, 2003 [1 favorite]

Stan! Welcome back.
posted by jonson at 5:13 PM on January 10, 2003

Maybe the true treasure we all search for is the lost wonder and joy we used to have as children

Some of us refused to bury it in the first place!
posted by rushmc at 5:44 PM on January 10, 2003

Some of us refused to bury it in the first place!

Or didn't think of burying it in the first place 'coz it was worthless! [Not at anyone particular]
posted by ( .)(. ) at 7:46 PM on January 10, 2003

Call your real estate agent.
posted by Sallyfur at 8:05 PM on January 11, 2003

Wow! Sallyfur, that's so much more interesting than just my original post on this subject. What a bizarre coincidence that I would choose to post this ancient story on the same day that the place would come back into the news (for going on sale). Thanks!!
posted by jonson at 9:12 PM on January 11, 2003

Yeah, I've heard about this too... always wondered if there were any new developments. The Skeptical Inquirer article is definitely worth reading, although it may be a shame to lose another great mystery...

Great post.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:20 PM on January 11, 2003

it may be a shame to lose another great mystery

Humbug! Mysteries are there to be solved and understood.

Anyway, they're like Doritos--the universe will make more.
posted by rushmc at 10:16 AM on January 12, 2003

The mystery aspect of Oak Island is barely touched upon with this page. Besides pirate treasure, there have been an incredible variety of oddball suggestions for what's buried in the pit. Some think it's Shakespeare's original manuscripts (too bizarre to get into why), while others believe it's none other than the Holy Grail and other Templar relics (and I won't bother linking to any of the books suggesting this because I don't want to perpetuate that foolishness).

Being a Nova Scotian myself, I'm hoping someone develops the property as a tourist attraction. Not the Disneyland variety, mind you, but since it's privately-owned land I've never actually been there, and I wouldn't mind visiting it. Heck, it's only 45 minutes away from me.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:08 AM on January 13, 2003

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