Oak Island

Cecil’s column on Oak Island (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/614/whats-the-scoop-on-the-mysterious-buried-treasure-at-oak-island) was posted as the daily Straight Dope column, which reminded me that I read a Skeptical Inquirer article some years ago saying that the whole thing might have been bogus–that people could have been misinterpreting natural formations as marks of buried treasure.

The Skeptical Inquirer article is online, too: http://www.csicop.org/si/show/secrets_of_oak_island/

I was with him up until all the stuff about Freemasonry. His supposed connections between Masonic rituals and events in the Money Pit saga seem tenuous at best, confirmation bias at worst. I don’t see why Freemasons need to be invoked in the context of his theory that the Money Pit was nothing more than natural formation, hype, and hoax.

Well, I guess greed blinded these people. They had the treasure staring them in the face all the time. Our wants and aren’t the same as the ancient people had. From the evidence it appears the treasure they were after was fresh spring water oozing from the underground rivers coming from the earth. Good tasting cold Water that came from springs was a treasure to most people throughout history. The block and tackle was possibly for a bucket. Why the tablet was down there who knows. The wood could have been remnants of some sort of structure that over time washed or fell into the well. It’s probably very old. Why do people always think that gold was of value to ancient people. I had a rectangular stone I found with what looked like a melted area on the crystal. It contained wirelike silver stranded soft metal in spots. I decided to break it to see if I could find out why the ancient people had this stone, thinking of precious metals. I found it was a very valuable stone for the ancient people when I broke it with an axe. I laughed at my ignorance as the axe hit the melted section and sparks shot out. My now broken rock was once a flint firestarter that probably was used for hundreds of years and buried who knows how long. Before breaking it it would have been worth a hundred bucks, but now it’s worthless. I keep it around to remind me how stupid I was.

Not a bad hypothesis, but unless I misread the story, it was seawater, not spring water, that floods the pit at high tide, channeled through tunnels that open at the shore.

The mention of layers of charcoal and coconut fiber did make me wonder, momentarily, if this had once been some sort of water filtration system. But the natural sinkhole explanation is the simplest, and probably correct.

What makes you think they found freshwater? All indications are the water was seawater from the surrounding ocean. Oak Island is, after all, an island. How far down did they dig? How far down is the water table?

As far as the Freemasons go, that would help explain finding artifacts like the stone with the mysterious inscription. People planting discoveries to build interest makes some sense. Is the fact of strong Freemason involvement in the excavations signs that there are Freemason plots, or just that many prominent people in the area are also Freemasons?

Are there coconut trees around Nova Scotia?

I read the second article and I didn’t see salt water mentioned in that one. I see it is stated in the straight dope link though.

Even without direct Freemason involvement, if they were a big part of the population (which I think they were), I could see Freemason-like things being what someone would add. Like how, from the 1950s on, space aliens might be implicated in something.

What I find skeptical is how far they dug down in one day. Three guys, with shovels, went down 25 feet in one day.

Let’s assume this was summer and they have long days and they got up, bright, early, and refreshed. A good breakfast and some awesomely strong coffee. They are gonna need it for this first 16 hour day of digging! Let’s say that the hole that they are digging is big enough for at least two (two filling in a bucket and one hauling the bucket up). Say the hole was 3’x3’, and as they will go down 25’ in one day, that’s 1.5’ in depth an hour, which is 13.5 cubic feet per hour. Or, another way to look at it is, one cubic foot every 4:25 seconds, sustained.

That’s the part that I find hard to believe. Especially if you factor in the flagstone and other stuff that they had to manually move with hands via a shovel. No way. I think the decimal point needs to move to make it 2.5’

a sinkhole can alternately become a well, a trash dump, a trap for animals and humans, then back to the beginning. the layers of wood, metal, masonry, coir are all ordinary human garbage that accumulate in deep, or depressed spots on earth.

also, i’ve never heard of people digging or burying treasure below the water level. a few feet below ground will hide it for years and can be retrieved in a day.

That part struck me, too.

One cubic foot every 4.25 minutes, right?

Per the article - “Loose dirt in a shaft”. Most of the time was probably spent dealing with the stones and planks.

Plus, I’m not entirely sure that they did it in one day (at least from Cecil’s article):

They could have knocked off after a week of afternoons.