Thursday, 12 July 2012 3:03 PM
Oak Island is the home of one of the most famous legends in Canadian history. By looking for cruise offers to North America, you can learn all about it by taking an excursion to its famous money pit, and finding out why it has long fascinated treasure hunters.
It all started back in 1795, when teenager Daniel McGinnis visited the island off the coast of Lunenburg County to try his luck fishing. While exploring in an area of woodland, he stumbled across a shallow circular depression in the ground that was sat within a small clearing of trees. It could have so easily been missed, but instead became the centre of the legend.
Next to the dent was a tree baring markings he believed to have been left by a rope and tackle system, which is a method of using ropes to raise or lower heavy loads. He decided to return, this time with two friends - Anthony Vaughan and John Smith, who were also both in their late teens.
The boys were excited to find pick marks left in the clay earth before they reached a layer of stones at 1.5 m. However, anyone attempting to get to the bottom of the mystery would have had their work cut out for them, as after removing the stones the boys then found a layer of tightly-packed logs. They would remove these, dig down further and then discover another layer. After dozens of metres of this, they reluctantly gave up on their plan.
Eight years later
More than eight years after the boys' original discovery, they returned to Oak Island and were pleased to discover the pit had not been tampered with since they left. This time they brought Simeon Lynds, a local businessman, with them and he offered financial support for the excavation.
Benefitting from several additional sets of hands, the men began to dig again. There was an understanding in place that the treasure they were convinced they would find would be shared between everyone who helped locate it.
However, it was not easy feat, as the men continued to be blocked by layers of logs and later coconut fibres and putty. While accounts of the excavation differ - meaning it is difficult to know what is fact and what is hearsay - after the team got down many more metres, they discovered a stone carved with unusual symbols. According to reports, some researchers at the time translated the inscription as saying: "Forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried."
Below the stone, the group was met with another wooden surface - which some suggest may even have been the treasure chest. Despite the vast excitement this discovery must have caused, poor visibility forced the team to abandon their search for the night, although it is likely they returned to the spot a couple of days later convinced they were about to become very rich indeed.
Instead, they were greeted with a pit full of seawater that reached almost to ground level. It is not known whether they struck something while digging that caused the liquid to flood the chamber, or whether it rose up naturally. Despite attempts to bail the water out, the chamber kept refilling and once again, the treasure hunt was abandoned. Several more attempts have been made since to uncover the secret, but to no avail.
That's no reason to abandon hope altogether though, so keep your eyes open during your time here in case you glimpse something shiny.