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Oak Island Money Pit: Unsolved Mystery (oakislandmoneypit.com)
243 points by trevin on Aug 7, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 116 comments

It's hard not to read the whole thing and think the people involved were very foolish, and it's an example of the lengths to which people can push wishful thinking and confirmation bias and ignore basic arguments like 'how could someone bury treasure in such a difficult to excavate way without anyone noticing them constructing it all, and how did they ever expect to retrieve it?' For example, we're repeatedly told about the scanty traces of things dug up like coconut, and then later this bombshell is dropped:

> In 1937, Hedden and his contractors returned to Oak Island. This time the company would encounter intriguing findings. Burrowing down one of the many auxiliary tunnels pock marking the island, the team stumbled upon a number of fascinating items including a miner's oil lamp with whale oil and unexploded dynamite at 65 feet.

Where on earth did those come from? Are the pirates supposed to have brought dynamite with them a century or two before? This suggests to me that (1) all the previous expeditions and drillings have littered the island with all sorts of equipment and junk, and hence nothing found after the first expedition means much of anything or (2) the flood tunnels and other geological oddities move debris around and that is responsible for the dynamite, in which case there may never have been anything to explain in the first place.

> It appears far too simple to dismiss the efforts of respected lawyers, businessmen, doctors, actors and even an esteemed president.

Does it now.

How someone could bury the treasure without anyone noticing them? Well, the same way they dug the hole without putting the treasure into it, I would think.

Why nobody would notice you is that it's 1600- or 1700-something and you're somewhere in the woods of what will be Canada one day.

What I don't get is why someone would play an elaborate prank, knowing that they probably won't be around to watch people's faces who try to find the treasure. No, it was no prank: this was a real pirate cache site.

I think that treasure had been there before, but it had been removed by the time those boys discovered the site. The encrypted sign was left behind, that's all.

I believe the encrypted sign was originally at the surface, perhaps not buried at all. Heck, maybe that sign had been put up in a nearby tree or whatever. The pirates used that sign so they can return to the site and recover the treasure. The treasure was 40 feet below that. When the pirates (or whoever) removed the treasure, they just threw the sign deep into the hole and buried it. So then the idiots who came later thought that the sign pointed down another 40 feet from there. (Why would anyone do that, doh!)

Pirates often left themselves clues to find their caches, like encrypted signs and such. Think about it: thousands of miles of ocean and coast-line (all of it self-similar) in a world without GPS navigation.

I suspect that this might be more accurate, in that several times folks put things there and took them back. There are interesting questions about sand deposits and the history of the island, and of course if it was a "good spot" to bury treasure during a time of privateering then perhaps there are several interesting places. Some of the more elaborate underground construction though seems to be in support of prohibition[1] (well in support of smuggling in liquor during prohibition).

A couple of things are hard to dispute, square cut timbers don't just "appear" underground, so someone put them there. But it could be for much more mundane reasons (like gold mines in the Sierra Nevada Mountains)and it makes for a spicy tale to through in pirates.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=prohibition+tunnels

You're assuming the original descriptions are trustworthy and not heavily biased. Yeah, maybe they were 'square-cut timbers'... or maybe it was driftwood and they were desperate to find something (see the 'treasure chests' in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8149351 ), or maybe natural processes produce squarish timbers (are the Giant's Steps produced by giants?), or maybe the original reports of squarish timbers were made up (wouldn't be the first time, to say the least).

You are no fun at all at parties I bet :-)

Everything you say is true, and it could all be one giant hoax by some land owner who said "I know, I bet if I make up a great story I can sell this worthless land for a few bucks!" What I did, and its useful for any story, is to make a "Charitable Assumption" which is to converse on the topic with the assumption that the other party is being as truthful and/or as accurate as they can. By doing so we can engage in conversation and perhaps learn new things. The trick is that one can make a charitable assumption and continue the conversation without believing that the assumption is "true" in the literal sense. It is sort of like a temporary stipulation for the purposes of discourse.

If we take the story at face value then the existence of non-natural artifacts, both timbers and other things, are considered "true" during our discussion. Then we can explore alternative reasoning (or even carry the existing reasoning further down the path) as to how or why that came about. What is important here is that there is no compulsion, either explicit or implied, in that sort of discourse that "forces you to believe" something which you don't.

You gotta decide which story to take at face value, though. In some versions it's only one layer of wood of unspecified shape and arrangement. In others it's layers of wood at regular intervals. In others it's specifically square-cut timber. Generally the more recent retellings of the tale have more of these juicy details than the older ones.

The thing about a good story is, it's hard to resist the urge to make it even better.

The choices aren't only "true" or "hoax." gwern pointed out that it could be due to wishful thinking, or lack of knowledge about certain natural events.

Those last two accept that people are "being as truthful and/or as accurate as they can", but also recognize that people are imperfect observers and imperfect interpreters. As your charitable assumption doesn't allow for something that we know happens frequently, I think it's fair to say it's a non-realistic assumption.

For example, astronomers from Schiaparelli to Lowell said there were canals on the surface of Mars. Some made quite detailed maps. There was no hoax, only a combination of wishful thinking and optical illusions.

At some point we have to stop being charitable in the way you mean. But we can still be charitable by saying that people are imperfect. This path, which gwern took, also leads to learning new things, though about human psychology and not putative pirate treasure.

Another quite plausible hypothesis is that it was a not-so-elaborate prank, and many of the more elaborate details of the story are actually folklore that has built up over time.

Joe Nickell wrote a rather nice article proposing that idea for Skeptical Inquirer a while back: http://www.csicop.org/si/show/secrets_of_oak_island/

> How someone could bury the treasure without anyone noticing them? Well, the same way they dug the hole without putting the treasure into it, I would think. Why nobody would notice you is that it's 1600- or 1700-something and you're somewhere in the woods of what will be Canada one day.

Supposedly, the diggings were noticed as they went on. From the very start of the article:

> By most accounts, the story of Oak Island's Money Pit begins in the summer of 1795 when a teenager named Daniel McGinnis saw strange lights on an island offshore from his parent's house. According to author Lee Lamb, upon investigating the island for the source of the lights, McGinnis noticed a peculiar circular depression approximately 13 feet in diameter on the island's forest floor (2006).

Personally, I find the encrypted sign pretty suspicious. There were a lot of people very desperate to find any scrap of evidence to indicate that there was buried treasure once they had committed themselves (and of course, the landowner at any time had incentive to stoke flames of speculation); how convenient that a stone with easily-deciphered crude ciphers which could have been manufactured and thrown in by anyone just happened to show up, despite the complete lack of any more concrete evidence (if you'll forgive the term) like some gold...

> What I don't get is why someone would play an elaborate prank, knowing that they probably won't be around to watch people's faces who try to find the treasure.

Because it's funny. I think you are right, the stone was probably on the surface or the tree, after someone collected the treasure they dropped the stone down there. thinking, wouldn't it be funny if someone dug up the stone and kept digging? Those idiots will waste their time while we spend all this loot on girls and booze!

I had a similar read on things. While I love a good mystery, and I'll indulge a good conspiracy theory (if only for the entertainment value), I feel this writeup takes the mystery too much at face value. In doing so, it misses a golden opportunity to mine the irony of the situation.

There's money buried in that pit, alright, and it's the money, time, and effort of dozens of fruitless and unintentionally self-replicating expeditions. The zeal to uncover a money pit has become, in and of itself, a money pit. That this zeal ensnared the imaginations of respected lawyers, businessmen, doctors, actors, and a future president speaks volumes about human nature.

Half-way through reading, I was thinking "what a fitting name" :)

> 'how could someone bury treasure in such a difficult to excavate way without anyone noticing them constructing it all, and how did they ever expect to retrieve it?'

That's a simple enough argument to reason around: when pirates buried the treasure there was no flooding. Remember, flooding didn't start until partway through one of the expeditions: this could be explained by shifting geological patterns in the rock in the island. All it would take would be for a crack to form in or current to erode a protective stone barrier which was previously keeping water out. Pirates unencumbered by water might have had a much easier time burying (and, they thought, retrieving) treasure.

The fact is, regardless of difficulty, someone did dig down that deep, and it seems like a lot of work, even without the water, to do as a prank or diversion. So I do think there is probably treasure there, or at least there was at one time.

However, as the many attempts show, the excavation is a very risky endeavor to undertake for treasure that May or may not still be there.

EDIT: And for the record, I think the treasure theory is the only plausible part. Kidd makes some sense, as do Vikings or naval treasure, but that's all speculation unless some real evidence is found. The "vi" bit is completely useless, and the Templars/masons/Shakespeare ideas are an embarrassment to the people who came up with the ideas.

To me, the presence of the stone found at 90 feet makes me think the whole thing was just a fake treasure pit designed to waste your adversary's time. If you were truly trying to hide a treasure, why would you intentionally leave semi-cryptic clues about what lay below?

It's kinda like a reverse-proof-of-work. It takes you a constant amount of time (probably a few weeks of work for a crew working on digging the ~100 foot pit and leaving a few fake clues). Then, once you tell someone else about it, it has the potential to occupy years of their life attempting to discover the "treasure" you told them about.

> the presence of the stone found at 90 feet

You mean that really important stone which somehow got misplaced—or put into a fireplace—and so we have this replica "for reals you guys"?

> You mean that really important stone which somehow got misplaced—or put into a fireplace

On a total tangent: People used to just hack up important monuments all the time if they thought they could use them.


> In the Late Medieval and Early Modern periods, locals destroyed many of the standing stones around the henge, both for religious and practical reasons. The antiquarians John Aubrey and William Stukeley however took an interest in Avebury during the 17th century, and recorded much of the site before its destruction.

> The majority of the standing stones that had been a part of the monument for thousands of years were smashed up to be used as building material for the local area. This was achieved in a method that involved lighting a fire to heat the sarcen, then pouring cold water on it to create weaknesses in the rock, and finally smashing at these weak points with a sledgehammer.

They don't really mention what happened to it but they never said it was misplaced or that it was lost. The mention of the fireplace was during the time where no one had a clue what was written on the stone.

At the end, they say that the stone has been lost since 1930.

Indeed, As a pirate I would certainly not spend weeks digging an elaborate treasure vault that would need a full crew. Putting all of my goods at one location wouldn't look like a good idea either. I would rather bury my treasure at different locations, and not too deep so that the job can be done quickly with the help of a couple of "expandable" guys. This has the extra advantage that retrieving it is easier, and may serve as a life insurance if I get caught and tortured (or at least buy time and give chances to escape or be rescued).

This also probably requires a map. Carving it in stone is probably the best (memory fades, paper burn), but here I would use caution again and would not write everything on a single stone.

Perhaps it is more apt to imagine yourself as a semi-autonomous band of pirates, rather than as an authoritarian individual.

Their design challenges were both to hide loot from outsiders and to make it difficult for any smaller group of band members to return to the scene without alerting most of the others. This elaborate arrangement could have been designed to buy time for the rest of the group to hear about excavations and return to claim their share.

From having only read the article, my theory is that the band had discovered a naturally occurring shaft part-filled with sea water. They somehow blocked the base of the shaft then drained it with lowered buckets. It is feasible that their skin-divers were able to work from air pockets in the cavern below. Also, that the divers may have discovered a swimable route to open water.

With an empty shaft, they now needed to shore up and back-fill several times to make looting from below difficult and dangerous. They'd have been concerned about one of their number draining all the back-fill and treasure into the cavern using gunpowder. Hence they built many layers, each of which would have been very risky to tunnel into, even for someone who knew the design. The depth of the earth layers, partial air gap and strength of shoring materials might have been calculated to be particularly unstable, when not supported from below.

Since the treasure was be recovered from the top, it is most likely that the pit had worked exactly as intended. The treasure was already long gone before anyone else noticed the pit. Its trappings were left in place and made generations of greedy people the poorer. The message stone, if it existed, was a wind-up. Its spirit suggests it was done at the time of recovery. Pleased as they were to find everything as they'd left it. This had cost almost no effort for a lasting glow of satisfaction.

The pit itself had not been tremendously difficult to make either. So there is no reason to believe it had ever hidden more than just ordinary wealth.

This theory is not flawless. Nevertheless, I believe it makes sense to consider design parameters around building an untrusted network.

If I was a real pirate, I'd store my treasure in another island, or rather spend it on cannons, women, and booze.

Nostalgia trip. I remember reading about it as a kid in an illustrated book about lost treasures and being enthralled by it.

It´s not difficult to see the fascination that a "mystery" like this can have on men, to the point of fueling the actual belief themselves, for opportunistic reasons or simply for not being seen as fools (another famous example, Rennes Le Chateau).

People ended up investing tons on money in the project, I wouldn´t be suprised if many of these reports of "coconut fibers", "timber platforms" were actually made up by the people making a living out of it, and not wanting the financing money to dry up.

The "undecipherable" tablet that perfectly translates to current English with a basic substitution cipher is particularly laughable.

To me the most interesting part is the equally spaced wood platforms. They went pretty deep and if it's true they were there before the digging began, I can find no real explanation for them.

Sounds to me like this was just a well that was dug by whoever was living there at the time, and later filled in. Every other aspect of the story just sounds like some kind of elaborate troll.

It's unlikely a well, that close to shore.

It might not have been that close at the time.

> Are the pirates supposed to have brought dynamite with them a century or two before?

Yup. Didn't you know pirates have the ability to transcend space and time? Captain Kidd regularly traveled to the late 19th century in his tricked-out DeLorean to score all sorts of goodies for his crew. Not just dynamite, but also souvenir coconut monkeys (they make great gifts) and clean-tasting pasteurized lager beer.

Thus making the rap battle between Al Capone and Blackbeard completely plausible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf9gulYfUh4

(I accept my downvotes with dignity.)

The dynamite was not found in the main hole but one of the "auxiliary tunnels". It was probably left from the previous excavations.

>Didn't you know pirates have the ability to transcend space and time?

Ask Alestorm, who wrote several songs about that.

> Where on earth did those come from? Are the pirates supposed to have brought dynamite with them a century or two before?

This is an obvious point which the OP does not entertain at all. Dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel in the mid 19th century, so pirates in the 17th century would not have been able to bring dynamite to the site. It must have been left by excavators from the The Oak Island Association or by other excavators trailing them.

Even assuming that there is treasure (in the form of gold, gems, etc) the money spent attempting to recover them must be nearly equal or exceed the monetary value of the treasure by now.

Two million pounds sterling is a lot of money. Something like half a billion on todays markets.

Two million pounds sterling was a horrendous amount of money at the time. Enough to stretch plausibility to the breaking point.

Assuming the money in question came in the form of 18th century British gold coinage, we're talking somewhere in the area of 10 or 15 tonnes of loot. To propose that people would use human power to lower that much gold into a pit over 100 feet deep is. . . optimistic.

OTOH, assuming it was wasn't in the form of precious metals, then by now it's in the form of compost.

I've spent summers at my family cottage, looking across the water at Oak Island for 40 years, and am always interested when it comes up. I've been on Oak Island and the myth is 100x more interesting than what is there now, the rusting remains of recent exploration efforts.

So if a crew of pirates|Incas|freemasons|French Royalty spent the effort to dig elaborate tunnels and traps, where are the remains of their campsites? The middens? The cooking fires? All infrastructure to support a huge constriction project, all with hand tools?

Everywhere else from that era you find the garbage that gets left behind - ashes, clay pipes, lost tools, buttons.

These particular mysterious builders were not just super skilled, they were also the tidiest contractors known to history.

Sadly, the whole story is a mishmash of charlatans, myth, and a lot of basic geology. There's no mystery.

And mysteries only get better with age.

It would be awesome if they finally got to the bottom and discovered a pile of "E.T." cartridges for the Atari 2600.

Oh boy, this comes up every few years. I guess the words "unsolved mystery" must excite some specific neural pattern in our brains.

It's far from the last great unsolved mystery, though, as claimed in the title: I would definitely put (i) deciphering the last part of Kryptos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kryptos), (ii) deciphering the Voynich Manuscript (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript), and, if you insist on adding treasure to the equation (iii) the Beale Ciphers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beale_ciphers) on any list of unsolved mysteries that fuel the imagination.

There's also deciphering the ancient Greek written language "Linear A" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_A

It was recently added to unicode, and we don't even know what the characters mean.

Sounds like a good way to accidentally summon an elder god via emoticon. Now I have a new novel plot...

Maybe cstross will feature it in his next Laundry novel.

Remember, demonology is just a branch of applied mathematics!

And if you want to co-author a story with my idea, give me a shout. :)

..Or the Indus Valley civilization script.


Quite tantalizing to have a ton of artifacts belonging to that civilization, along with seals having specific imagery (like a bull); and then not being able to decipher the what the symbols next to the script mean.

I don't think Kryptos counts as a mystery. It is a riddle for sure, which isn't entirely solved yet, but it is as much a mystery as the final puzzle of Fez: We know exactly who made it, for what purpose, what it contains conceptually, and that the creator is even still alive.

Voynich and the Money Pit are mysteries where none of these are true and many questions besides the solving procedure are still open.

(Though, to be honest, i strongly suspect that Voynich is the same thing as Kryptos and the last Fez puzzle: An artifact straddling a weird line between riddle and troll.)

Perhaps not as much of a mystery, but I do think the D. B. Cooper case is fascinating (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._B._Cooper). The Wikipedia article reads like a popular adventure novel.

Don't forget the most recent theory: http://xkcd.com/1400/

Thanks -after loosing Friday to reading about the Money Pit, I've now lost today reading about Voynich...

Feel someone should mention the Taman Shud Case [1] as another one of those preplexing mysteries.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taman_Shud_Case

Well, if we're doing treasure we shouldn't forget about the Lost Dutchman's Mine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Dutchman%27s_Gold_Mine)

The similarity of the history of this island to the history of many software projects I've worked on is amazing.

Worth sharing, google led me to this interesting fellow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hUrpcxD0uo

He has a surprisingly interesting idea that the shaft of periodic wooden panels may be an ancient viking ship buried vertically.

My own vote is for sinkhole + telephone game/hype machine.

That's fascinating. The letters resemble Inuit writing a bit. EDIT: seems that script was created by missionaries in the 1840's.


Here are some pictures of Viking longships. It looks like they are not strongly longitudinally segmented, which is against the theory.


"According to authors Graham Harris and Les MacPhie, Borehole 10X terminated in a cavity carved out of bedrock. Within the stone chamber were what appeared to be a severed hand, a corpse and several treasure chests (2005). Prompted by the video images, the Triton Alliance initiated approximately 10 diving excursions into the subterranean cavern. No treasure was extracted as a result of the divers' investigations."

Any chance of recovering that video?

Personally I thought of something like Nemo's underground/underwater base. Unfortunately by simply smashing through layers of timber treasure hunters most likely flooded/collapsed entire tunnel system.

I remember seeing pictures from that video in a book that I once owned. Calling it "treasure chests" is a bit overly optimistic. I'd say "square shadow". I concur though that, whatever was there (if there even was anything to begin with) has long been destroyed now by all the treasure hunters.

That for me is the greatest tragedy of this: if there ever was treasure there, its historical value would have been far greater than the value of the supposed gold there, and the historical value has been entirely destroyed in the pursuit of the gold.

Regardless of what it actually belonged to -- even a ship's manifest -- that parchment would have been valuable, and it's destroyed forever now.

On the other hand it would have anyway. Without the incentive on treasure, it would have been abandoned entirely. And anything degradable would have deteriorated long ago by now.

I do not believe that Borehole 10X was the location where the Masons buried this treasure.

It would not have been logical for these educated Masons to have left the treasure below the water table where the destruction and deterioration of it could occur from salt water.

I believe what was located at Borehole 10X was a cavern created by the Masons off of the main treasure tunnel to locate an underground ``Burial Site``.

After their return from Havana and losing thousands of their comrades to sickness, it was inevitable that deaths would occur on the island and In order to keep their location secret, they could not bury them in the ground or at sea, but placed the bodies in caskets made from the ship's wood and put them in the cavern.

What was seen from the camera lowered into Borehole 10X were the remnants of this.

I believe the parchment material found with the letters VI was a piece of the King James VI Bible, placed within a casket.

The printing of this bible was done by a John Baskerville a printer, Freemason, and good associate of both Grand Masters – Benjamin Franklin and Washington Shirley. In 1757 John Baskerville had invented a woven cloth paper which he used to print his Bibles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baskerville

The article is interesting but painful to read; it's as though it was written by a near-illiterate who painstakingly reviewed every letter over and over to eliminate obvious mistakes. Then, when you've survived the pain, you meet the usual suspects: "Who wrote Shakespeare's plays?" "Look, the Knights Templar!" "It's a Freemason conspiracy!" I wasted my time here.

I didn't notice any spelling or grammar mistakes and it pulled me in enough to make me read the whole thing. It's very, very thorough; someone did their research and spent a lot of time writing this.

He was only explaining popular theories that have been proposed. Not claiming there is any truth to them. This is like saying wikipedia isn't reliable because they list the exact same crazy theories and even some other ones in their documentation of the site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Island#Treasure_theories

Near-illiterate seems like an unnecessarily harsh insult. I had no issues reading it, and the author doesn't seem to believe the Shakespeare and Freemason theories, they're just cataloguing the most common explanations.

Pardon my ignorance but how do we not have the technology to just like ground scan 300ft below the surface around the island and map it out? Like Sonar or something, idk.

I don't think it would really be that hard to solve this from an engineering perspective (see for instance how the Brooklyn bridge was built) its just that anyone with enough money and sense to solve the problem properly is probably to smart to get involved with what IMO is likely a hoax that got out of hand.

Not really. Not to get into politics, but the Israeli army is currently trying to find the tunnels from Gaza and haven't figured out a great technical option - and those are hollow spaces. In this case you are trying to pick out solid objects from other solid objects, that is tough.

Sounds like you should raise money and launch your own expedition.

Let's kickstart it! We can feed the team with potato salad.

IIRC, ground penetrating radar has poor performance in clay or generally wet soil, otherwise it would probably have been done already as the technology has been somewhat widely accessible since at least the 1980s.

You're looking for ground penetrating radar http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground-penetrating_radar.

I often wonder. It seems that our technology must suck at this or is simply too expensive to use.

That pit and the various efforts to "find the treasure" remind me of a father that was spending $15,000 per year on his young daughter's softball efforts (coaching, training, traveling) in order to help earn her a scholarship to college. She eventually blew out a knee and her softball career ended before she even finished high school. If only he had instead invested that $15,000 a year himself he would have had her scholarship all taken care of.

This pit is like that only with less light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes, but she also gets to play softball for x years. There's value in that.

If (and I do mean if) she actually enjoyed playing softball after all her father's pressure, she probably would have been able to play it much longer without the intense focus that eventually blew out her knew.

I think your original argument was valid (make smart investments (educational RSPs) rather than personally motivated investments (softball). However, I would have backed it up by coming up with number of softball players/softball scholarships, expected return on RSPs over 10 years etc not anecdotal evidence like "If she actually enjoyed playing..."

Those comments were made by two different accounts.

Oops... didn't notice that.

A softball scholarship could be more useful than a personal fund of equivalent value: sad fact is sports scholarships can get you into a school you might not otherwise be accepted to.

I found this on wikipedia which is interesting:

>The appearance of a man-made pit has been attributed partly to the texture of sinkholes: "this filling would be softer than the surrounding ground, and give the impression that it had been dug up before",[38] and the appearance of "platforms" of rotten logs has been attributed to trees or "blowdowns" falling or washing into the depression.[39] An undetermined pit similar to the description of the early Money Pit had been discovered in the area. In 1949, workmen digging a well on the shore of Mahone Bay, at a point where the earth was soft, found a pit of the following description: "At about two feet down a layer of fieldstone was struck. Then logs of spruce and oak were unearthed at irregular intervals, and some of the wood was charred. The immediate suspicion was that another Money Pit had been found."[40]

"The Last Great Unsolved Mystery"? Really? I've got a list of a few more and they're even restricted to the treasure-and-crime kind. http://infohost.nmt.edu/~jcrawfor/mysteries.html

I kept reading thinking, "Wow, surprised they haven't blamed the Freemasons for this!" when, suddenly, "oh, there it is..."

Disclaimer: I'm a Freemason.

Disclaimer 2: No, I don't know where any treasure is buried. It's really not that sexy.

How do you know someone is part of a "secret society"? They'll tell you.

We're not a secret society. We're a society with secrets.

A secret society is a club or organization whose activities, events, and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. The society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence.


If they're supposed to be secret, they're doing a fairly poor job of it.

I am as well (Gray Lodge, Houston).

I've found that nobody likes to make fun of Freemasonry and all the conspiracy theories surrounding the organization more than us Masons ourselves. :)

Yes, of course the lower echelons of Freemasonry are completely oblivious and makes for plausible denial for the organization as a 'hole' (pun-intended).

Wow - I never expected to find Freemasons on HN. Don't know why but i thought it was a) dying out and b)it was for old people. Well older than my 43 years of age :)

You'd be surprised. Most of the guys in my lodge are younger than 45 and many work in technology.

> I'm a Freemason.

Then you ought to know the difference between a disclaimer and a disclosure. (But don't feel bad, almost no-one else here does either...)

If you enjoy mystery or thriller books, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's fictional novel Riptide is very enjoyable, and is based in large part on the Oak Island Money Pit legend.


No fringe conspiracy theories, just good adventure fiction. It's one of their non-Pendergast books that worth the read.

Oh, and at the bottom of the pit in the book? (rot13)

n fjbeq bs qnzbpyrf-yvxr eryvp, znqr bs enqvbnpgvir vevqvhz sebz n pbzrg. Vg jnf ohevrq gb orpnhfr ybbxvat ng vg rkcbfrf lbh gb rabhtu enqf gb xvyy lbh.

uggh. I thought money pit was a reference to the scam tourist trap businesses that operate 'tours' to this thing. The worst lamest thing on a family trip to Nova Scotia years ago that we still laugh about. "It was just a hole and a sign!"

Jeez man, HN what a bunch of curmudgeons. I personally love this stuff, real or not, it is a modern day treasure hunt. How isn't that fun???

This one is SO OLD though. It was in the books I read as a kid 30 years ago.

Isn't it being old kind of the point? People are actively attempting to excavate it.

At some point, the story just becomes sad. I like treasure hunts, but not at the expense of peoples' life savings - and multiple lives. And there should be treasure at the end of the hunt, not a story about peoples' delusions and wishful thinking and scams.

But clearly you are mistaken that we have seen "the end of the hunt."


I'd give anything to know what is buried there. I've been fascinated with this since I was a kid.

I've only known about it for a few years but I'm fascinated.

Did anyone mention the TV show they have out on this now? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Curse_of_Oak_Island

I actually got sucked into the show, and the two brothers seem to have a really good approach by looking at other areas, instead of the just going after 10X and continuing in the same vein so many others had.

The Shakespeare guy was actually really interesting. A little nutty, but he did turn up several more signs on the stones.

I'm hoping this comes back for another season and would love to see these guys finally solve the mystery. I think they have several good leads and have pushed closer to a solution than anybody else.

Yup, the article did!

while reading this, I kept thinking to myself that while excavation seems an insurmountable task at this time, if things started via a tunnel excavation from the coast that was already 150' below the surface, then building up from there wouldn't necessarily have been a major endeavor at all.

Sounds cheap.

I think it would be nearly impossible to keep water out of a tunnel like that.

All the contemporary excavators seem to have missed the real treasure. It's now a site that has huge tourism potential...Something worth far more in $$ than a few pieces of eight.

It's actually located in a beautiful location my wife and I got married at Oak Island Resort which is just on the mainland across the water from the island.

Its a touristy area already its close to Peggy's cove and Lunenburg.

Thanks for posting this.

I grew up a few hours away from there, I remember hearing about the 1980s efforts on the news at the time and finding it fascinating as any pre-teen boy would. I also feel like we're due for some recent maniacs to come along and start the whole fiasco over again.

Was the movie Goonies inspired by this?

I'd never seen the similarity until you mentioned it. But I don't think so.

I wish some really rich person would just buy this island and pay some construction company a lot of money to excavate the whole thing. It can't be that hard to build a sufficiently large hole with modern technology.

Someone did (Marty Lagina) and they attempted a number of things last year. This is the premise of a reality show on the History Channel called "The Curse of Oak Island."

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Curse_of_Oak_Island http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3455408/

Hmm, sounds like the pirate Kidd played a lot of dwarf fortress in his days.

There's a treatment of this story on the great podcast Skeptoid. http://skeptoid.com/mobile/4129

Oh my. I'm sure they also uncover the true identity of the Loch Ness monster down there.

Weird this is blocked by corporate firewall...

The plot thickens....

The (Untold) Story of The Oak Island Money Pit

The Oak Island Money Pit was constructed by the “powers that be” that were and still are to this day, the secret force that controls the course of mankind on earth. This organization is known as - The “Freemasons”.

The story of The Oak Island Money Pit begins in the 1760’s It was conceived by a number of Britain’s high ranking naval officers, who were also Masonic degree members of the Freemasons and belonging to the Masonic “Premier Grand Lodge of England”. These Masons were members of the Whig Party opposed to the next successor to the throne, the unstable King George III. These members were: Washington Shirley, 5th Earl Ferrers – Vice Admiral - Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge – Premier Grand Lodge of England George Anson, Baron Anson – Admiral of the Fleet George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle - Commander-In-Chief Augustus Keppel, 1st Viscount Keppel – Rear Admiral – Brother to George Keppel William Keppel – Lieutenant-General – Brother to George Keppel George Pocock – Admiral – Commander of the Invasion of Havana and Benjamin Franklin – First Grand Master of Pennsylvania who met in 1760 with the Grand Master of England to discuss their plan.

The Mason’s plot originated after King George III’s destruction of the Whig’s political power with his redirection of this power to the Tory Party, and the Mason’s concern of the imminent invasion of England, during the Seven Years’ War, by the joint forces of France and Spain. Spain outlawed all forms of secret organizations, including the Freemasons.

The Mason’s plan was to redirect a fortune to the “New World” (North America), to enable the transfer of the Masonic organization, if and when these fears materialized. Their plan entailed the capture of Havana in 1762. Havana’s Morro Castle was the Fort Knox of Spain, holding the South and Central America’s gold supply prior to its shipment to Spain. The invasion of Havana was under the command of George Keppel, with Admiral George Pocock and Keppel’s two brothers Augustus and William Keppel, commanding the actual attack. They were successful with the capture of Havana and Fort Morro and its unprecedented amount of treasure. They also captured a number of the Spanish Fleet, which was needed to accomplish their plan. Accordingly, Admiral Pocock returned to England with the main English fleet carrying a portion of the treasure, while Augustus and William Keppel along with their crew and Masonic engineers all sworn to secrecy, manned the 8 Spanish Galleons and the 2 British Man of War. This treasure was diverted to a small island off the coast of New England and Nova Scotia now called Oak Island.

At Oak Island the treasure was buried based on the Masonic “Royal Arch” (Enoch’s Temple) consisting of nine arches going down nine levels by way of a main shaft (The Money Pit) which was dug down to the bedrock. From the ninth level another tunnel was constructed which ran back up to a point above the known water level, roughly 20 feet underground and at this point an enormous cavern was built to hold the treasure. The treasure was carted down the main shaft and placed up into this cavern. To conceal their plot they had the 8 Spanish ships dismantled with all the wooden parts not used in the construction of the shaft, tunnels and cavern burnt and all the metal parts (canons, anchors and bolts) were placed at the bottom of the main shaft. Flood tunnels were built out to the ocean to booby trap any treasure seekers attempts to follow down the main shaft. A large stone was placed at the air lock (8th level) as bait to activate the flooding. This stone had strange engravings on it to entice any unworthy treasure seekers to pause and take the bait (stone) away for deciphering, thus allowing time for the tunnels and main shaft to fill with water and be destroyed forever. The Masons knew exactly by their calculated mark above ground where the treasure cavern below ground was located, and could access it by digging down 20 feet.

Once the treasure was secured in the cavern and all the evidence was hidden from the island, it was documented that the Keppels sailed back to England with 2 ships and a small portion of the treasure. They claimed that the remainder of the fleet had sunk in a hurricane on route.

The Masons left several markers on the island to relocate the treasure. 1 large triangle or more precisely a crude Sextant 2 drilled holed stones 1 large stone cross These combined markers along with the Star Map are used to cross triangulate and a set degree on the sextant point to the “X” where the cavern is today located.

Is the treasure still in this cavern?

I believe it was removed in 1795

One of the three original discoverers of the Money Pit was Daniel McGinnis, who stated he was drawn to the island when he noticed strange lights appearing on the island just prior to his discovery. These lights were made by the Freemasons when they returned for their treasure. This Masonic party was headed up by George Washington, President of the United States – acting Grand Master of the Washington DC Masons.

The treasure’s vast fortune was used, as planned, to further the power of the Freemasons in their new world, with them becoming “The New World Order”.

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