Nova Scotia isn’t where you’d usually expect to find buried treasure, but the signs on Oak Island are all there. From the late 18th century to today, it’s intrigued many people, including a pair of brothers hellbent on finding the treasure. Let’s look at this strange island in a little more detail and see what makes it so captivating.

The Start Of a Mystery

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In 1795, a youngster named Daniel McGinnis uncovered what seemed to be the start of a treasure hunt. Alas, no one wanted to help him dig into the earth as he was just a teenager then, and people held superstitions about the island. It was said the very land was cursed, and no one was willing to help him.

Fast-forward to 1810, and the Onslow Company funds McGinnis’ first foray into treasure-hunting. Plumbing the depths of McGinnis’ first endeavor, they ran across several layers of coverage, including charcoal, coconut fiber, and oak beams every ten feet or so. They eventually hit a stone tablet with strange carvings on it.

No Luck For McGinnis

Source: Wikimedia/National Archives and Records Administration

However, the tablet wasn’t the only thing that McGinnis’ crew found. As they dug deeper, they hit a metal surface, which they thought was the top of a chest. Eagerly, they left the pit overnight to resume their excavation of the supposed treasure chest in the morning. If only they had known what waited for them when the sun rose.

The shaft they had so painstakingly dug for weeks flooded in overnight, leaving them no closer to the treasure than they were before. Some commenters noted that the metal surface they hit was probably a trap triggered to stop people from getting the prize. It could have opened an inlet to Smith’s Cove, leading to overnight flooding of the pit.

More Than One Suspicious Spot on Oak Island

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While McGinnis’ money pit was the first strange location on Oak Island, it was far from the last. Smith’s Cove, mentioned above, has a latticework of coconut fibers that houses box drains that feed the traps to McGinnis’ money pit. Several other strange arrangements have shown up around the island, fueling speculation.

These strange occurrences and locations were what prompted the Lagina brothers, Rick and Marty, to buy into the primary land share at an auction. They have been eagerly trying to solve the mystery (or mysteries) of Oak Island. Their interest netted them a show on The History Network called The Curse of Oak Island.

What’s With The Strange Stuff on Oak Island?

Source: Wikimedia/Jean-Baptiste Andre Gautier-Dagoty

That, as they say, is the million-dollar question. There are many different theories about the formations on the island. McGinnis’ tablet was eventually deciphered and was claimed to say, “Forty feet be­low, two million pounds lie buried.” The Lagina brothers have also had a little success with their digs, just enough to keep them motivated to search for more.

They unearthed a chest containing many artifacts confirming several of the theories about what was buried there. Inside the chest was a ring purported to be owned by Marie Antoinette and a parchment with masonic rituals. They also found some gold doubloons in the chest, suggesting a potential link to pirates.

The Primary Theories Of What’s Up with Oak Island

Source: Wikimedia/Howard Pyle

One of the most pervasive theories about the island’s buried treasure has to do with Captain William Kidd. Readers of Edgar Allen Poe will recognize that Oak Island bears a striking similarity to the setting of “Gold Bug,” which explores the burying of Kidd’s treasure, albeit as fiction. Reality can sometimes be even stranger than fiction.

The second theory is that the island housed strange and occult Masonic artifacts used in rituals that were buried there for some unknown purpose. However, many of the stories associated with the Masonic link seem to copy another tale, the Arch of Enoch. The similarities make it seem like Oak Island is a knockoff of the original Freemason lore.

Leading On Treasure Hunters for Hundreds of Years

Source: Wikimedia/Harper’s Monthly

You might think that after a few hundred years of not finding anything, people would leave the island, putting it down as a wild goose chase. Yet it’s been throwing out so many tantalizing teasers of what’s buried there that most hunters operate like people with an addiction, thinking the big score’s right around the corner.

Coins way older than McGinnis’ initial foray into the island have been found, including a Spanish coin from 1652 and a galleon spike from the 1600s. A gold-plated brooch was also found dating back to the 1400s on the island. A French military cap badge from the 1700s was also found discarded on the island.

More Recent Looks At The Island Uncover Weird Stuff

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In the twenty-first century, we have technology that could help us piece together most ancient mysteries. Except for this one. In 2023, the Laginas hired a team to do a geophysical scan over the swamp to uncover as much about it as possible. The scans were surprising, to say the least.

They found anomalies that aligned with an aerial survey scan done four years ago, suggesting that it may be the final resting place of a treasure galleon. However, the final results of this foray into the swamp’s history are still pending. The Laginas are hopeful it may provide a clue to some of the island’s history.

Is There Treasure on Oak Island?

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Wild theories about treasure on Oak Island have been passed on through the years. Word of mouth has it that Shakespeare’s original folios were buried on the island at some point. Others say that there are chests under the island’s surface. Yet more stories state that the treasure’s already been found, and all that remains are markers that point to nothing.

The Laginas are convinced there’s still much to uncover about Oak Island. Like most historically exciting locations, all it takes is the will to learn more about what they know about the island. With each discovery, however, comes a slew of brand-new questions.