Sunday, February 26, 2017

Curse of Oak Island - This Blog's Season Finale (I hope)

Back more years than I care to think about, while I was still on active duty in the Army, I bought a book, This Baffling World by John Godwin. It contained information on thirteen mysteries from about the world. I bought the book because of the segment on UFOs, but other segments were about Bermuda Triangle, the abominable snowman (Big Foot in the world today) and, importantly here, Oak Island. This was my introduction to the treasure and it was the source of my interest. Oh, for those of you keeping score at home, the book was published in 1968.

From that point, I kept an eye out for information about Oak Island, though it wasn’t as important to me as UFOs. I did read some magazine articles and I found a book, The Big Dig: The $10 Million Search for Oak Island’s Legendary Treasure, by D’Arcy O’Conner, published in paperback in 1988. This book provided more information about the original find and the history of those who had attempted to get at the treasure. And, in the first edition, published in 1978, there was a discussion about the attempt to gather the funds to truly explore the island and get the treasure. There were plans to dig a hole and use old railroad tank cars with the ends cut off to line the hole in an attempt to defeat the booby traps.

The bibliography contained a list of magazine articles that had been published and in the pre-Internet days, I used the bound periodicals in the University of Iowa Library to read some of them when I had the chance. I was quite interested in what happened to the ten–million-dollar plan to get the treasure back in the 1980s. It seemed that a stock market crash had dried up the funds and the “big dig” was put on hold… permanently it turned out.

Given what I had read in those books and magazine articles, it seemed to me that there was some kind of treasure buried on the island. The drain system that was supposedly found, and the coconut fiber suggesting one of the beaches was artificial, seemed to underscore the theory and offer evidence of something strange. Everything suggested the treasure had been just out of reach of those who came earlier and that technology, improving from picks and shovels to machinery would allow the hunters to find the treasure. Then there was Dan Blankenship’s tantalizing finds at the bottom of Bore Hole 10X made it seem all the more real. He had a video tape that seemed to suggest artifacts and a body some 200 feet below the surface of the island.

When I saw the first ads for The Curse of Oak Island I thought we might finally get the answer. So, I was sucked in and disappointed as they didn’t seem to get anywhere, other than trips to Europe and side issues of Knights Templar and all that other nonsense they have explored. Some of it was interesting but had little do to with getting at the treasure.

Over the years, or seasons now, they have done nothing to prove there is a treasure. It is clear that Dan Blankenship and Fred Nolan believed there was a treasure and it is clear the Rick and Marty Lagina believe there is a treasure, but belief is not proof and proof is not what they have. They threw dye into one of the holes as had been done decades earlier in an attempt to identify the booby trap system, but the dye didn’t show up anywhere and while it is obvious that the water in the various holes is sea water they found no evidence of a drain system. They hired a professional diver who reached the bottom of Bore Hole 10X and the things that we had heard for decades were hidden down there weren’t. No human remains. No chest. No tools. Just an uneven floor that suggested a natural cavern linked to the ocean rather than something created by humans to hide their treasure.

They have pulled nothing from all the holes they dug that has any real value. The coins they found, one of them Spanish from centuries ago and the others from England, were on the surface and found with metal detectors. They only proved that someone had lost them a long time ago but not that there was any treasure.

The big discoveries seem to be a rewriting of the history. Samuel Ball might have been one of the boy, men, who found the original money pit. That does change the history somewhat… but the biggest reveal might have been from three sisters who said they were direct descendants from Daniel McGinnis, one of the three who found the money pit in the first place. The sisters said that three chests had been found. They had a small cross that was said to be very old and probably of Spanish origin and part of that original treasure. If this is true; then the treasure is gone and all we have is an interesting story that will have no resolution because the treasure is gone.

Actually, if there was ever a treasure hidden on Oak Island, I believe that it is long gone. If the boys didn’t get it back in the 18th century, I suspect someone else did. They just don’t find anything other than the evidence of others working the island which proves only that others have worked the island. Each time they tell us something interesting is coming, it isn’t all the interesting and gives us no real hope they’ll find a treasure. The only treasure to be found is for those who own the equipment used to dig, those who are making the TV show and those who appear on it. There is no Spanish gold, there are no the lost manuscripts of William Shakespeare, the lost religious icons from the ancient world or the lost French crown jewels (which I think they mentioned once or twice long ago). There is nothing to be found but if they keep digging holes all over the place the island is liable to sink which might be something fun to watch (though not to those who houses and land on the island). 


RedTornado2008 said...

My problem with Oak Island has more to do with the pirates themselves. Why would they risk their lives stealing the loot from well armed ships only to bury it in a pit they will never be able to retrieve? That leaves the idea of pirate treasure a moot one for me.

The other ideas were interesting until I read the site your blog referred us to. If there was anything there, it was easy to access and is long gone as the looters enjoyed their bounty.

Thank you for a wonderful blog, Dr Randle. I enjoy reading it all the time as well as your books.

Robert Sc said...

I too became interested in the mysterious events on Oak Island back in the 1960s. I enjoy the programs and think that perhaps you are being too hard on the producers of the series. It is well and good to be disappointed that nothing more substantial has been found and, yes, the editing of the shows yields a lot of frustration. I am though happy that there is a serious investigation of the surface and subsurface of the island and that they use modern scientific tools for analysis. It is possible there is nothing more on the island than random artifacts from different visits over a time span of centuries but the search is entertaining.

Is not the fascination with the incident at Roswell somewhat similar despite what is arguably even less documentation? There is continued interest in the Roswell story and a great many books written on the subject; however, what actual artifacts from the event are available for study? Is there a major field investigation involving excavation of the supposed landing site, sifting of the soil, scientific analysis of any potentially relevant materials? I am not aware of any such investigation, so is not the work at Oak Island at least a positive effort to obtain some answers and at least as relevant a subject for investigation as Roswell?

TheDimov said...

I think Dr Randle has become an old curmudgeon. Its a fascinating documentary of an age-old mystery where regularly they are making discoveries, and it was such a guarded mystery that was never shared with the public yet now that it is, and with great detail and analysis, its still not good enough for some. So... don't watch!

Mike Zilis said...


I've just finished a recently released book called "The Oak Island Mystery Solved" by Joy A. Steele. I had to hold my nose a bit to get past the title, but the information presented seems quite solid, if not conclusive. It makes a case for what The Money Pit really is as well as other related sites on the island.

It does NOT preclude that any treasure could have been burried somewhere on the island prior to 1720.

Perhaps I should have started with this, but I've been interested the Oak Island mystery since I read about it in grade school during the 1970s. I would love for a story of burried treasure to be true, much like I hope that we are not alone in this universe and in fact have been visited and perhaps have interacted with these beings.

I'm very curious about the Oak Island story and I may not have started reading this book with as open a mind as a neutral person in search of the truth would have. I have not chased the footnotes or followed up with the experts she uses to support her thesis. My impressions of this work are admittedly unqualified. I still believe it has merit and should be widely debated among those who are interested in Oak Island's history.