The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-25-2010, 07:11 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Oak Island "Treasure"-Was There Ever Any Evidence of Buried Treasure

I have read Cecil's account of the 200 years of digging at Oak Island, NS. It seems that millions of dolars have been spent, digging holes, and looking for the treasure.
As Cecil notes, virtually nothing of significance has ever been found there-even the famous stone slab (with the mysterious markings) has vanished. The accounts of the excavations also sound fabulous-a treasure room under 100 feet of earth? Special tunnels designed to flood the room, if certain rocks were moved?
Would anybody in the 1700's have the enginerring talent to construct something this sophisticated? And, given the complexity, how would the people who buried the treasure ever get it out?
The attmpt that was made in the 1960's sounds interesting-a treasure chest? Unfortunately, these people never found anything either.
So was the whole thing a hoax? Was there ever any evidence that anything was ever buried there?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 11-25-2010, 07:37 AM
Sparky812 Sparky812 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Great White North
Posts: 2,883
link to column
Wiki
Update on Oak Island

Basically, the current "owners" have until Dec. 31, 2010 to find anything before the Canadian government declares a moratorium on treasure hunting on Oak Island.
Nothing has ever been found and present research indicates the money pit was formed by natural geological factors.

Last edited by Sparky812; 11-25-2010 at 07:40 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-25-2010, 07:41 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Man made works certainly existed that were found. Nobody knows the purpose of what was found. Many have invested over the years in the hopes it meant they would retrieve treasure. There is no reason there couldn't be buried treasure as people do bury valuables to hide them.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-25-2010, 08:20 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
As I mentioned, almost none of the people who dug at oak Island kept any good records. Now that the place is pockmarked with pits, it is unlikely that anything is left to be found.
The one thing that intriqued me was the report of tunnels connected the pit with the beach-red die was thrown into the mouth of one of these tunnels, and the die showed up in the pit water. This is pretty sophisticated.
Anyway, it makes for a good story..although how carribean-based pirates would have sailed to Nova Scotia is another mystery.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-25-2010, 08:38 AM
samclem samclem is offline
graphite is a great moderator
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Akron, Ohio
Posts: 21,262
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
Man made works certainly existed that were found. Nobody knows the purpose of what was found. Many have invested over the years in the hopes it meant they would retrieve treasure. There is no reason there couldn't be buried treasure as people do bury valuables to hide them.
Skeptical Inquirer(in 2000) had a rather good analysis of the issues and I don't think I would say "man made works certainly existed."
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-25-2010, 09:02 AM
Sparky812 Sparky812 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Great White North
Posts: 2,883
Man-made works were certainly found, but it is impossible to discern whether they were from the original "treasure trove" or remnants of previous digs, etc.. I have a friend that lives directly across from the island and has a fantastic view of the site. He reports that the whole island has been ravaged and scattered with debris in the over 200 years of searching.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 11-25-2010, 09:12 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparky812 View Post
Man-made works were certainly found, but it is impossible to discern whether they were from the original "treasure trove" or remnants of previous digs, etc.. I have a friend that lives directly across from the island and has a fantastic view of the site. He reports that the whole island has been ravaged and scattered with debris in the over 200 years of searching.
This is the main point. So many people have been there nothing could ever be made from the stuff found.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 11-25-2010, 09:24 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
It could've been been very short term, a matter of weeks. Of course it seems like a lot of effort for nothing, but then in the old days, people had nothing but time on their hands, so why not do something.

Makes you wonder if anyone now is cooking up a mystery like this or the Voynich Manuscript to bug future generations
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 11-25-2010, 09:32 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Skeptical Inquirer(in 2000) had a rather good analysis of the issues and I don't think I would say "man made works certainly existed."
I think the article puts a tad too much emphasis on the "Masonic" thing.

My opinion is more simple: I agree it's likely a sinkhole, and once people began looking for treasure, it attracted hoaxers who salted the pit with mysterious looking mumbo-jumbo (whether based on "Masonic" stuff or not). Later explorers found remnants left by earlier explorers.

Mark Twain satyrized this process in the last bit of Hucklberry Finn (where the boys have poor Jim carving mysterious markings in his cell).

Think of it logically: there is simply no reason to hide treasure a hundred feet down a pit. The whole point of burying treasure (those reasonably rare times it happened) was, generally, to temporarily hide it so you could return later and get it back.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 11-25-2010, 12:09 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 22,762
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Anyway, it makes for a good story..although how carribean-based pirates would have sailed to Nova Scotia is another mystery.
Boats, I'd assume.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 11-25-2010, 01:28 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England (where it rains)
Posts: 50,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
Boats, I'd assume.
They don't call you the Captain for nothing!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 11-25-2010, 05:06 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
If you want to read a fictional account clearly based on Oak Island, have a look at Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs' Riptide -- a wonderfully and typically over-the-top jaunt from that pait which supposes that a pirate captain enlisted the aid of an architect in constructing just such a puzzle trap as Oak Island was supposed to be, filled with Indianam Jones-esque booby traps and the like, with a Dark and Mysterious Secret and a real treasure.

http://www.amazon.com/Riptide-Dougla.../dp/0446607177


It's as close as you're likely to get to anything like the Oak Island legend. As it is, I distrust evenreports that early seekers found bits of gold chain and the like.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 11-25-2010, 05:35 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,272
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
There is no reason there couldn't be buried treasure as people do bury valuables to hide them.
I can't prove there isn't an alien spacecraft buried down there either.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 11-25-2010, 05:54 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Portlandia
Posts: 27,249
Seems I read something about it being a Masons' hoax.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 11-26-2010, 11:23 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
The Oak Island webiste is pretty interesting. As i say, had somebody found a few dubloons or pieces-of-eight, the tale would have been a lot more believable.
But-almost 200 years and nothing?
Although, I was interested in the fact that cocoanut fiber was found at the entrance to the "drain" tunnels-how would that have gotten there?
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 11-26-2010, 12:37 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 24,423
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Anyway, it makes for a good story..although how carribean-based pirates would have sailed to Nova Scotia is another mystery.
That part wouldn't be a mystery at all. Pirates of the 1600s and 1700s roamed throughout the world's oceans as the fancy took them; some like Dampier sailed around the world. The famous Captain Kidd (initially a privateer) raided in the Caribbean, off New England, and in the Indian Ocean. And Kidd buried some treasure temporarily on Gardiner's Island in New York.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Although, I was interested in the fact that cocoanut fiber was found at the entrance to the "drain" tunnels-how would that have gotten there?
First of all, the article says it was "fibrous material" that was identified as coconut husks; it could have been something else. Second, coconut fiber was used as dunnage to protect cargo; if it was actually coconut fiber it could have reached the area in regular shipping.

Last edited by Colibri; 11-26-2010 at 12:37 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 11-26-2010, 09:36 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
The one thing that intriqued me was the report of tunnels connected the pit with the beach-red die was thrown into the mouth of one of these tunnels, and the die showed up in the pit water. This is pretty sophisticated.
Not really. A waterlogged pit can indeed carry silt or dyes from the beach, if it's fine enough. Water tends to carry stuff.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 11-27-2010, 11:48 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
Boats, I'd assume.
Sorry. I meant to say "why".
Would caribbean-based pirates be all that interested in stealing salted cod?
Dubloons and pieces of eight would be much more lucrative.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 11-27-2010, 11:18 PM
dtilque dtilque is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: My own private Nogero
Posts: 3,447
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Sorry. I meant to say "why".
Would caribbean-based pirates be all that interested in stealing salted cod?
Well, it's a good way to get scrod...
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 11-27-2010, 11:37 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: In the Dreaming
Posts: 14,727
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
Boats, I'd assume.
Bah! Pish-posh and Balderdash. It is absurd to think that humans sailed all the way up there and built this. The obvious explanation is an undiscovered ancient high tech civilization that was in contact with space aliens.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 11-27-2010, 11:47 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Shakedown Street
Posts: 12,161
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Although, I was interested in the fact that cocoanut fiber was found at the entrance to the "drain" tunnels-how would that have gotten there?
It could have been carried by a swallow.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 11-28-2010, 05:48 AM
Súil Dubh Súil Dubh is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
It could have been carried by a swallow.
African or European?
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 11-28-2010, 07:52 AM
PlainJain PlainJain is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 4,234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
... in the old days, people had nothing but time on their hands...
Yeah, it sucks that we developed the need to feed and shelter ourselves these last few centuries.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 11-29-2010, 04:32 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 22,163
I found that treasure in 1968. Turns out everyone was holding the map upside down, the treasure was actually buried about 50 feet away, only about 10 feet down.

Sorry, I thought I told someone. Oh well, you can stop digging now.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 11-29-2010, 11:24 PM
digs digs is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
...Makes you wonder if anyone now is cooking up a mystery like this or the Voynich Manuscript to bug future generations
SPOILER:
Why, yes, I am . . .
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 11-30-2010, 07:11 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
I was just reading Edward Rowe Snow's account of the Oak island tale..and it seems to me that perhaps there was a treasure buried there-but it was removed before the boys started digging in 1795.
Reports from the local people say that local fishermen noticed starnge lights on the uninhabited island, in the early 1720's-two locals went out to investigate and were never seen again.
So perhaps it was a Spanish silver repository-and the owners collected it-leaving a hole in the ground-which the local kids started digging in.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 11-30-2010, 08:53 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
SDSAB
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: At the Diogenes Club
Posts: 45,258
Quote:
Originally Posted by Súil Dubh View Post
African or European?
What? I don't know that!

Aiyaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 11-30-2010, 12:53 PM
Steve MB Steve MB is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 8,796
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
Makes you wonder if anyone now is cooking up a mystery like this or the Voynich Manuscript to bug future generations
The Codex Seraphinianus comes to mind.
__________________
The Internet: Nobody knows if you're a dog. Everybody knows if you're a jackass.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 11-30-2010, 01:06 PM
Skammer Skammer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Music City USA
Posts: 12,463
Regarding the coconuts fibers (if that's what they were), Nova Scotia sailors made frequent trips to the Carribean to trade things like manufactured goods and cloths for food and spices. My great-great-great-great-grandfather's brother was a NS sailing captain in the 1760s and made regular trips to Puerto Rico and the other islands. It would not have been rare to find coconuts (albeit not buried 100 feet under the beach).
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 12-01-2010, 03:28 PM
Susanann Susanann is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
I was just reading Edward Rowe Snow's account of the Oak island tale..and it seems to me that perhaps there was a treasure buried there-but it was removed before the boys started digging in 1795.
Reports from the local people say that local fishermen noticed starnge lights on the uninhabited island, in the early 1720's-two locals went out to investigate and were never seen again.
So perhaps it was a Spanish silver repository-and the owners collected it-leaving a hole in the ground-which the local kids started digging in.

..................except it was not a "hole in the ground", it was filled in.

Who would fill in a 100 foot deep hole AFTER you take out the treasure?

Also, back in 1795, most people did not have too much extra time to go around and construct elaborate hoaxes, and people were more sensible back then nobody back then tried to act crazy to get on the Jerry Springer show.

The first people to discover it had to be convinced it was real in order for them to buy up the land and then spend the rest of their lives digging.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 12-01-2010, 04:55 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: I'm right here!
Posts: 8,214
Quote:
Originally Posted by Susanann View Post
..................except it was not a "hole in the ground", it was filled in.

Who would fill in a 100 foot deep hole AFTER you take out the treasure?
First, ralph124c didn't say it was a 100 foot deep hole that was filled in. If someone actually buried treasure, how deep would they really go? Five feet, maybe?

Second, no one needs to fill it in. A good rain storm will fill it in.

The earliest account, to quote Wikipedia, is "In 1795, 16-year-old Daniel McGinnis discovered a circular depression". That's entirely consistent with a reasonably deep hole in sand, following a good rainstorm or two.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 12-01-2010, 06:48 PM
Susanann Susanann is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Originally Posted by Susanann
..................except it was not a "hole in the ground", it was filled in.
Who would fill in a 100 foot deep hole AFTER you take out the treasure?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
First, ralph124c didn't say it was a 100 foot deep hole that was filled in. If someone actually buried treasure, how deep would they really go? Five feet, maybe?
Second, no one needs to fill it in. A good rain storm will fill it in.
The earliest account, to quote Wikipedia, is "In 1795, 16-year-old Daniel McGinnis discovered a circular depression". That's entirely consistent with a reasonably deep hole in sand, following a good rainstorm or two.
No. It was not just "a circular depression".

If you cared to investigate further beyond Wikipedia, it was at least a 120 foot deep hole that was recently freshly filled in when it was first discovered, and no, a good rainstorm would not fill it in. There have been plenty of books about this treasure.

Nor would the people who found it buy the island and then spend the rest of their lives digging it out if the fill-in was only a few feet deep when they found the hole. Even President Frankin D. Roosevelt personally worked on the island trying to dig up the treasure. If the hole was originally only a few feet, we would not have had many companies spending tens of millions of dollars trying to dig it up over the past 200 years.

Last edited by Susanann; 12-01-2010 at 06:49 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 12-01-2010, 08:23 PM
Musicat Musicat is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,223
If you haven't read the Joe Nickell article (post #5), you should. It suggests that the original hole was a natural formation -- many sinkholes have been found in the area, and this was just another. It was embellished by hoaxes, fantasies, wishful thinking, and misinterpretation -- a lot of things can fall into sinkholes over time; an old log can become a "platform" if that's what you are hoping to find.

In short, the tale grew with the telling, each development more fantastic than the last, and most impossible to verify. A lot like UFO or Bigfoot reports.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 12-01-2010, 09:00 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: I'm right here!
Posts: 8,214
Quote:
Originally Posted by Susanann View Post
...it was at least a 120 foot deep hole that was recently freshly filled in when it was first discovered...
I don't believe this for a minute.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 12-01-2010, 09:00 PM
Stink Fish Pot Stink Fish Pot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
I remember seeing an In Search Of special about Oak Island in the 70s and have been interested ever since. I haven't read any of the links, but it seems that there is some information missing which may be causing some confusion.

1) the original spot was discovered by some friends when they were exploring the island one afternoon. They noticed a depression in the ground, and a groove worn into the tree limb above the depression, exciting the boy's imagination about pirate treasure or something like that being buried below.

2) as the boys dug, at 3 feet they discovered their first obstacle. (I don't remember if it was just stones). At 10 feet and every 10 feet after, there was a specific pattern of planks, stones, etc that were placed by whoever created this hole. I believe they dug down 80 or 90 feet (my apologies, this is all from memory).

3) when they returned the next day, the hole had about 40-50 feet of water in it. This water was found to be fed into the hole by two feeder systems that were on opposite sides of the island. These systems had the fibrous material mentioned above. The dye poured into the hole confirmed the locations of the feeder systems which began in the ocean over 100 feet away from the hole.

4) I don't remember when the kids were out of the loop, but it was fairly soon after the water filled up the hole. The dye was not poured in by the original discoverers

5) a stone with strange marks came out of the hole. I saw a picture of it, but not sure it still exists. It was a simple substitution code (assuming that's what it was, in english, also an assumption) that worked out to something like "100 feet below this stone 2 million dollars are buried".

Someone put an drill bit into the hole and came up with a link of a gold chain and some bits of paper. That's it. That's all that's been extracted from the hole as far as I know. The story is that the bit hit a bunch of things on the way down, including wood (a treasure chest, perhaps?) and then went into a void. open space, where whatever was there possibly fell in another 40 feet below where it was.

The hole has changed hands a bunch of times over the years, a number of lives have been lost, and millions have been spent.

As mentioned, the original location of the hole is unknown. Someone came up with digging a parallel hole, but it collapsed and flooded like the original hole. Subsequent holes have been dug over the past 200 years, obliterating the original site.

This was also written up in The Smithsonian sometime in the 1990's.

I personally think that something is buried there, or was at one time, but whatever was there has been ruined by time and the elements. The question of how whoever buried it there ever planned on retrieving it has never been answered, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a way. If the original story is supposed to be believed (the flagstone level every 10 feet), someone went to a lot of trouble to create the hole. For what reason would they create the hole? This was done before the days of heavy machinery, so this was a major project, even if it was a prank.

I also find it hard to believe folks have been pouring millions into this pit if there wasn't some indication that something is down there. Wherever "down there" may be.

It could ultimately be an elaborate hoax, but one I cannot for the life of me understand. The perpetrators of the hoax are long gone, and never shared their story. What purpose would that hold?

Last edited by Stink Fish Pot; 12-01-2010 at 09:03 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 12-01-2010, 09:07 PM
Musicat Musicat is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,223
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stink Fish Pot View Post
If the original story is supposed to be believed...
Aye, Matey, there's the rub. Do you think that every detail you mentioned is unquestionably the truth? Is it possible that some items were made up and others were exaggerated? Considering that most diggers were excitedly expecting to get rich, is it possible that someone salted the dig with a piece of gold chain to encourage more digging? That a rotten log might morph into a rotten plank? That a stone that fell into a sinkhole was credited to pirates, especially since pirates were suspected of creating the hole in the first place? Could there be any self-deception at work here?
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 12-02-2010, 01:41 AM
Stink Fish Pot Stink Fish Pot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Aye, Matey, there's the rub. Do you think that every detail you mentioned is unquestionably the truth? Is it possible that some items were made up and others were exaggerated? Considering that most diggers were excitedly expecting to get rich, is it possible that someone salted the dig with a piece of gold chain to encourage more digging? That a rotten log might morph into a rotten plank? That a stone that fell into a sinkhole was credited to pirates, especially since pirates were suspected of creating the hole in the first place? Could there be any self-deception at work here?
Of course. Self-deception along with actual deception is possible. Perhaps probable. The one thing that always made me think that there may be some truth to this tale was that the first discovery was in 1795. Which doesn't exactly prove anything except that this seems like such an elaborate story to create a hoax with. If I were one of the kids creating the hoax, I'd have to tell SOMEONE the truth before dying, or before any major cash was lost by honest investors. Except, of course, if the plan was to screw people out of money for 200 years. I'm not even sure if the original guys made a dime off the dig.

The article printed in The Smithsonian was an excellent history of the story. It went into some detail as to what each layer was made out of, dismissing your "rotten log" theory, and random sinkhole deposits. However, again, we must always go back to the original account, since no pictures were taken, and there was no way to document the dig and finds, except for the word of the folks that dug down the pit that first time.

To me, the boys would have to have been lying from the very beginning for the hoax to make sense. This is entirely possible, of course. I do agree with you that the salting of the hole was very possible, especially when investors were needed to keep the dig alive. But a few links of a gold chain and some bits of paper are not much. I'd say that whoever salted that hole got some serious return on their investment if that was their plan. It's been a target of investors and treasure hunters for 200+ years now. That's amazing, considering the lack of physical evidence found.

Maybe I'd just like to think that there is something down there (or was down there at one point). What a great story it would be if a treasure were actually found. What a letdown it would be to have the story confirmed as a hoax.

Just curious... is this a tourist attraction of any kind, or does it generate any revenue for the current landowners? If so, keeping the story alive would certainly make sense.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 12-02-2010, 09:17 AM
sqweels sqweels is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtilque View Post
Well, it's a good way to get scrod...
I got scrod just the other day. Very tender and juicy.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 12-02-2010, 09:35 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stink Fish Pot View Post
I remember seeing an In Search Of special about Oak Island in the 70s and have been interested ever since. I haven't read any of the links, but it seems that there is some information missing which may be causing some confusion.

1) the original spot was discovered by some friends when they were exploring the island one afternoon. They noticed a depression in the ground, and a groove worn into the tree limb above the depression, exciting the boy's imagination about pirate treasure or something like that being buried below.

2) as the boys dug, at 3 feet they discovered their first obstacle. (I don't remember if it was just stones). At 10 feet and every 10 feet after, there was a specific pattern of planks, stones, etc that were placed by whoever created this hole. I believe they dug down 80 or 90 feet (my apologies, this is all from memory).

3) when they returned the next day, the hole had about 40-50 feet of water in it. This water was found to be fed into the hole by two feeder systems that were on opposite sides of the island. These systems had the fibrous material mentioned above. The dye poured into the hole confirmed the locations of the feeder systems which began in the ocean over 100 feet away from the hole.

4) I don't remember when the kids were out of the loop, but it was fairly soon after the water filled up the hole. The dye was not poured in by the original discoverers

5) a stone with strange marks came out of the hole. I saw a picture of it, but not sure it still exists. It was a simple substitution code (assuming that's what it was, in english, also an assumption) that worked out to something like "100 feet below this stone 2 million dollars are buried".

Someone put an drill bit into the hole and came up with a link of a gold chain and some bits of paper. That's it. That's all that's been extracted from the hole as far as I know. The story is that the bit hit a bunch of things on the way down, including wood (a treasure chest, perhaps?) and then went into a void. open space, where whatever was there possibly fell in another 40 feet below where it was.

The hole has changed hands a bunch of times over the years, a number of lives have been lost, and millions have been spent.

As mentioned, the original location of the hole is unknown. Someone came up with digging a parallel hole, but it collapsed and flooded like the original hole. Subsequent holes have been dug over the past 200 years, obliterating the original site.

This was also written up in The Smithsonian sometime in the 1990's.

I personally think that something is buried there, or was at one time, but whatever was there has been ruined by time and the elements. The question of how whoever buried it there ever planned on retrieving it has never been answered, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a way. If the original story is supposed to be believed (the flagstone level every 10 feet), someone went to a lot of trouble to create the hole. For what reason would they create the hole? This was done before the days of heavy machinery, so this was a major project, even if it was a prank.

I also find it hard to believe folks have been pouring millions into this pit if there wasn't some indication that something is down there. Wherever "down there" may be.

It could ultimately be an elaborate hoax, but one I cannot for the life of me understand. The perpetrators of the hoax are long gone, and never shared their story. What purpose would that hold?
What gets me is that no-one, seemingly, every asks *why* some pirates or others would elaborately bury a load of treasure 100 feet down a hole, create a seemingly impregnible series of drains as an elaborate defense, and deliberately leave tantalizing clues to its location such as the stone with a message on it.

There are in fact real stories of "buried treasure", but generally is is "buried" to hide it from others, and those who bury it want it back again.

- why elaborately hide it, then leave in plain sight obvious clues that you were burying stuff- in the story, the clues that interest the discoverers into digging in the first place?

- if you hide it, why hide it in a way that you *can't* easily recover it? Ten feet of sand makes sense, 100 feet is just silly - never mind creating elaborate dranage systems etc. And if the point was to hide something permanently - they made a whole infrastructure to hide the treasure - but did not bother to avoid leaving clues like an obvious depression in the ground/block & tackle (or worn groove) above it?

- if you hide it, why leave clues *part way down* the hole seemingly to *encourage* people to dig deeper, like the carved stone? What's the *point* of having multiple platforms in the hole?

Nothing in this story makes any sense, as a real plan. It makes lots of sense as an ever-evolving "urban legend" type of thing.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 12-02-2010, 10:34 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 21,995
A few facts:

Although it's true the kids claimed they discovered the hole in 1795, we don't know exactly what they found, as it wasn't written up until 1856. In fact, the second dig (Onslow) occured about 1803 or so, and that was also included in the 1856 articles, along with the best documented of the early digs (Truro) , which occured in 1849. So, the tales of the discovery and the earlier digs are based upon only oral testimony, from one person (Vaughan) who apparently had some sort of monetary interest in the dig. So, the "layers every 10 feet" may or may not have been there as such. Maybe his memory was playing tricks or he was lying.


http://www.csicop.org/si/show/secrets_of_oak_island
"Similarly, the notion that there was a log platform at each ten-foot interval of the pit for a total of nine or eleven platforms, is only supported by later accounts, and those appear to have been derived by picking and choosing from earlier ones so as to create a composite version of the layers. For example the account in the Colonist (1864) mentions that the original treasure hunters found only flagstones at two feet ("evidently not formed there by nature") and “a tier of oak logs” located “ten feet lower down” (i.e., at twelve feet). They continued some “fifteen feet farther down,” whereupon-with no mention of anything further of note-they decided to stop until they could obtain assistance. James McNutt, who was a member of a group of treasure hunters working on Oak Island in 1863, described a different arrangement of layers (Crooker 1978, 24). "



Thye also claimed to have found a inscribed stone, but (wiki) "No photographs, drawings, or other images of the stone are known to have been produced prior to its disappearance circa 1912" and the incription/code is suspicously close to that found in a book entitled "True Tales of Buried Treasure, written by explorer and historian Edward Rowe Snow in 1951."


It is claimed a small piece of gold chain was found during the 1849 dig period, but remember, by that time people had been messing with the Pit for over 50 years, it's not impossible someone lost their watch chain while digging. Or, perhaps it was planted.

Here's what the CSICOP artile ended with "In summary, therefore, I suggest first that the “Money Pit” and “pirate tunnels” are nothing of the sort but are instead natural formations. Secondly, I suggest that much of the Oak Island saga-certain reported actions and alleged discoveries-can best be understood in light of Freemasonry's Secret Vault allegory. Although it is difficult to know at this juncture whether the Masonic elements were opportunistically added to an existing treasure quest or whether the entire affair was a Masonic creation from the outset, I believe the mystery has been solved. The solution is perhaps an unusual one but no more so than the saga of Oak Island itself. "
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 12-02-2010, 11:00 AM
Colibri Colibri is online now
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 24,423
Quote:
Originally Posted by Susanann View Post
No. It was not just "a circular depression".

If you cared to investigate further beyond Wikipedia, it was at least a 120 foot deep hole that was recently freshly filled in when it was first discovered, and no, a good rainstorm would not fill it in. There have been plenty of books about this treasure.
As has been noted, there is no contemporary documentation of the original discovery. The first accounts with any details weren't published until the early 1860s. There is no way to ascertain what the original hole was actually like; there is a good chance the whole thing was a hoax from the start.

Quote:
Nor would the people who found it buy the island and then spend the rest of their lives digging it out if the fill-in was only a few feet deep when they found the hole.
Two of the supposed original discoverers (who were adults, not boys) already owned land on the island.

Quote:
Even President Frankin D. Roosevelt personally worked on the island trying to dig up the treasure.
After the legend had been growing for more than a century.

Quote:
If the hole was originally only a few feet, we would not have had many companies spending tens of millions of dollars trying to dig it up over the past 200 years.
And investors wouldn't have spent tens of millions of dollars investigating cold fusion if it didn't actually occur.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 12-02-2010, 11:06 AM
garygnu garygnu is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
This is why there will always be fiction.

In the world of stories, we have Treasure Island, the Goonies, Indiana Jones, and Ducktales. In real life we have six dead people and a sinkhole.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 12-02-2010, 04:25 PM
Musicat Musicat is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,223
If you assume parts of the story are true, it may encourage you to accept other parts. But if you take each separate claim and try to analyze it on its own merits, I think the pendulum swings more towards the hoax/wishful thinking side than the "must be true" side.

Just because one or more stories has a possible true ring to it doesn't make their accumulation any more valid. There is more that is unlikely than otherwise to this whole mess.

It reminds me of the statemtent/question, "So many reports of alien sightings! They can't all be false!" If each one is ridiculous, the sheer volume of them doesn't make them any more true.

The retort to that is often, "But they can't all be swamp gas!" No, they probably aren't. Many things from many different sources, exhibiting different logic errors, have all been lumped together. And that's what I think the Oak Island stories are.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 12-07-2010, 10:13 AM
Agent Foxtrot Agent Foxtrot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Susanann View Post
<snip>Also, back in 1795, most people did not have too much extra time to go around and construct elaborate hoaxes, and people were more sensible back then nobody back then tried to act crazy to get on the Jerry Springer show.</snip>
Where did you get this idea?
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 12-08-2010, 05:17 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
The last major attempt to find a treasure was in the 1970's, I believe. This involved driving a cofferdam down-and a CCTV camera was lowered into the pit.
Supposedly, the camera showed the image of a human hand and a treasure chest.
Has a videotape of this survived?
As for the elaborate design of the pit-has this ever been seen anywhere? I mean, drains designed to flood the pit if disturbed, eleborate platforms (exactly what purpose would that serve)?
Again, it seems to me that whoever built it and buried something, must have retrieved it.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 12-08-2010, 05:22 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,272
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
The last major attempt to find a treasure was in the 1970's, I believe. This involved driving a cofferdam down-and a CCTV camera was lowered into the pit.
Supposedly, the camera showed the image of a human hand and a treasure chest.
Has a videotape of this survived?
Supposedly.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 12-08-2010, 05:53 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 21,995
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
The last major attempt to find a treasure was in the 1970's, I believe. This involved driving a cofferdam down-and a CCTV camera was lowered into the pit.
Supposedly, the camera showed the image of a human hand and a treasure chest.
Has a videotape of this survived?
As for the elaborate design of the pit-has this ever been seen anywhere? I mean, drains designed to flood the pit if disturbed, eleborate platforms (exactly what purpose would that serve)?
Again, it seems to me that whoever built it and buried something, must have retrieved it.
I saw some of the images on a TV special. They were blurry and it's one of those "what can you find' type things. I mean, once they say "ooh, that's a chest" yes, it does sort of look like a chest.

And, honestly, we don't really know if there was a "design" elaborate or no. Historical details are blurry and have been heavily edited to make an exciting tale.
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 12-08-2010, 11:38 PM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 8,949
Quote:
Originally Posted by Susanann View Post
Also, back in 1795, most people did not have too much extra time to go around and construct elaborate hoaxes, and people were more sensible back then nobody back then tried to act crazy to get on the Jerry Springer show.
Well, hoaxes were certainly popular in the 1800s, judging from the Silver Lake monster and reports by one Samuel Clemens. Financial foolishness also has a long lineage: one classic on the topic is Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, first published in 1841 and still in print.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 12-09-2010, 06:04 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Eastern Connecticut
Posts: 15,095
Quote:
Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
Well, hoaxes were certainly popular in the 1800s, judging from the Silver Lake monster and reports by one Samuel Clemens. Financial foolishness also has a long lineage: one classic on the topic is Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, first published in 1841 and still in print.
Someone else has heard of the Silver Lake Sea Monster?!?!!!! eleventy!!! I misspent much of my youthful summers in Perry =)
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 12-09-2010, 09:54 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
Supposedly.
OMG, it's a treasure chest!. Or is it a rock?

Last edited by Colophon; 12-09-2010 at 09:54 AM..
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:58 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.