The Money Pit
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 visit.
Mid-19th century newspaper stories recount that, in 1795, young Donald Daniel McInnis discovered a circular depression on the south eastern end of the island with an adjacent tree which had a tackle block on one of its overhanging branches. McInnis, with the help of friends John Smith and Anthony Vaughan, excavated the depression and discovered a layer of flagstones a few feet below. On the pit walls there were visible markings from a pick. As they dug down they discovered layers of logs at about every ten feet (3 m). They abandoned the excavation at 30 feet (10 m).
About eight years later, according to the original nineteenth century article, another company examined what was to become known as the Money Pit. The Onslow Company sailed 300 nautical miles from central Nova Scotia near Truro to Oak Island with the goal of recovering what they believed to be secret treasure. They continued the excavation down to approximately 90 feet (27.43 m), and found layers of logs or "marks" about every ten feet (3 m) and layers of charcoal, putty and coconut fibre at 40, 50 and 60 feet (12, 15 and 18 m).
According to one of the earliest written accounts, a newspaper article called "The Oak Island Diggings" from the Liverpool Transcript (Oct 1862), at 80 or 90 feet (27 m) they recovered a large stone bearing an inscription of symbols. The pit subsequently flooded up to the 33-foot (10 m) level. Bailing did not reduce the water level and the excavation was abandoned.
Investors formed The Truro Company in 1849, which re-excavated the shaft back down to the 86 foot (26 m) level, where it flooded again. They then drilled into the ground below the bottom of the shaft. According to the nineteenth century account, the drill or "pod auger" passed through a spruce platform at 98 feet (30 m), a 12-inch head space, 22 inches (560 mm) of what was described as "metal in pieces", 8 inches (200 mm) of oak, another 22 inches (560 mm) of metal, 4 inches (100 mm) of oak, another spruce layer, and finally into clay for 7 feet without striking anything else.
One account states they recovered three small gold links of a chain from mud stuck to the drill. They attempted to prevent the pit from flooding by damming Smith’s Cove, and later by excavating a shaft into what was believed to be a flood tunnel from the sea to block it and prevent the pit from filling with water.
The original 18th Century story of the pit’s discovery along with the mid-19th century newspaper accounts are based on unverified folklore and may be entirely false. The earliest published description of the Money Pit is a news article in the Liverpool Transcript newspaper in October 1862. This included an oral account of the early years of excavation attempts as told by at least one digger. No supporting material or evidence has surfaced ever since, and the story has been impossible to verify. Several researchers have noted that artifacts like the inscribed stone and gold chain links could have been placed in the pit during expensive excavation operations for the purpose of attracting more investors.