The Money Pit
Factual accounts state that in the year 1795, three young men, Daniel McGinnis, Samuel Ball, and Anthony Vaughan, happened to come upon a small circular pit on Oak Island in Nova Scotia. However, I was there also, and for the life of me I cannot figure out how people do not know this. It is my wish to relay to you the happenings that took place during this time.
It was a summer evening in the year 1795, and my three friends and I decided to row out into Mahone Bay to enjoy some solitude. It was the start of twilight, and as we went further out into the water, we happened to notice three green lights coming from the shore of nearby Oak Island. Intrigued, we rowed over to the island to explore and to find a reason behind these strange lights. The island was densely populated with trees, however once we had been on the island for about five minutes, we discovered a clearing in the woods. In this clearing was a small pit, and above it overhang a tackle block from one of the tree’s protruding branches. Once we saw this, we could not help but think of Captain Kidd’s buried treasure, which was purportedly buried on an island east of Boston. With this in mind, we decided to come back in the morning with picks and shovels in order to try to excavate the small pit.
The next morning, we eagerly rowed back over to Oak Island and immediately darted towards the pit. We started to dig, and after about fifteen minutes we came upon a layer of flagstones not otherwise found on Oak Island. We removed these flagstones and in doing so, we discovered that there were already pick marks on the walls of the pit, which led us to believe that the pit had been refilled and was certainly the work of men. We began to dig deeper, and after we had dug about ten feet down, we discovered an oaken log platform covering the width of the pit. Not long after removing these logs we came upon a mat of some sort consisting of coconut fiber. This baffled us, for nowhere in Canada can you expect to find a coconut tree. Intrigued to the highest degree, we set aside the mat and continued to dig deeper into the pit.
After approximately digging another ten feet down, we once again came upon a platform of oaken logs. Upon seeing this we were filled with feelings of both annoyance and of excitement, for who would go to this much labor unless they were hiding something of exceptional value? We once again moved the logs out of the pit and persevered on. After we had reached some thirty feet down into the pit, we came across yet another log platform. Coming to terms with the realization that we were not well-enough equipped to continue on, we reluctantly packed up our digging instruments, and left Oak Island. We were going to need professional help, and we only hoped that this help would come soon.
It would not be less than eight years before we were finally able to secure professional help. A local business man, one Simeon Lynds, agreed to help back us financially and created his own treasure-hunting band called the Onslow Company to assist us in the labor. My friends and I had agreed to share whatever treasure was to be found with Lynds and the Onslow Company, for our biggest concern was not to become rich, but to be recognized as finding buried treasure that had been hidden with such tremendous effort.
When we returned to the island, we were shocked to find that nothing had been touched, and was in the exact condition in which we had left it eight years before. As the long hiatus finally came to a halt, we began our excavation again with immense eagerness. Our treasure hunting companions (that is, the Onslow Company) started digging with their much more productive tools, and once they had reached a depth of forty feet, they came upon yet another log platform. They removed this platform with relative ease, and continued on digging. About every ten feet was found some sort of object. Sometimes it was another platform, while at other times it was either charcoal, putty, stones or more coconut fiber.
We continued on to a depth of ninety feet when we unearthed a mysterious slab stone, about three feet long and one foot wide. Like the coconut fibers, this stone was not native to Nova Scotia, and upon it were bizarre writings unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The discovery of this slab lifted all of our spirits, for we were sure that we were about to find something of enormous significance. However, to our aggravation, two feet underneath the stone slab was another log platform.
Due to nightfall and increasingly bad weather, my friends and I, along with the excavation crew, left the pit, with all of us agreeing to return to the site early the next morning.
The next day at dawn my friends and I fervently rowed over to Oak Island to continue our search. The sky no longer had dreary clouds overhanging us and it was turning out to be a beautiful day. As we came closer to the island, we could see that the Onslow Company was already there. This slightly agitated the four of us, for we wanted to be a part of the digging every step of the way. However, we were the ones who asked for their help and they were just doing their jobs.
Once we approached the shore, we jumped out of the rowboat to find that the ground was tremendously muddy due to the previous night’s rainfall. As we made our way over to the excavation crew, we noticed that in no way were they in good spirits. This troubled me, and as we came upon the pit it was clear as to why the crew was in such a bad mood. Saltwater had flooded all but thirty feet of the pit. My friends and I were staggered in the most contemptuous of ways. I could not help but to think that our adventure was now over.
One of the members of the crew suggested that we start bailing out the water, even though the impossibility of ridding all of the water from the pit was extremely high. However, we were desperate, so my friends and I, along with the majority of the crew, started removing as much of the saltwater as we could. Once we succeeded at removing approximately three feet of water, the pit immediately flooded back to its original depth. Disgruntled and agitated, we began again to bail out the water from the pit. Starting afresh, we had removed about four feet of water this time when once again another influx came in to fill the pit. All of us now had to come to terms with the fact that digging any further or making progress of any kind was now impossible. With much thought and deliberation, we grudgingly ended our hunt and agreed to meet back in the springtime (for it was now the end of fall), hoping that the water might dissipate in our absence.
Throughout the whole of winter, I could keep nothing on my mind other than the pit on Oak Island. My three friends were less fixated on the setback and were able to continually participate in the joys of life. I, on the other hand, could not help to think in what state the pit was currently in. The part of Mahone Bay that led you to Oak Island was completely frozen over, so getting to the island was near impossible. I had no course of action other than to be patient and wait for spring to arrive.
After the longest three months of my life had finally passed, my friends and I reconnected with the Onslow Company and made our way over to the pit. After having plenty of time to ponder our next move, Simeon Lynds suggested that we dig a separate pit right next to the original one, hoping that the water would flood into this new shaft. Over the course of about four weeks, we managed to dig down approximately 110 feet before we tunneled into the original pit. To our extreme delight, the shaft the we had dug started to fill with water, alleviating some of the water from the pit. Not moments later, however, the shaft crumbled and caved in on itself, resulting in the water once again flooding all but thirty feet of the pit. It was becoming clear to us that we would never find out what lay at the bottom of that pit. To the chagrin of us all, the series of events had at last combined to crush all of our spirits, and we decided to give up on the excavation. The year was 1804.
Our failure to find any sort of treasure hung over me for the next several years. I had felt that we were so close to discovering something unprecedented, yet who knows how close we truly were. A few years after we had abandoned the excavation, my three friends and I, along with the Onslow Company, had decided to outsource the stone slab to a group of cryptographers. After some time, and through much difficulty, the group was able to form a rough translation of the mysterious symbols on the slab. The translation was thus: “Forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.” After learning of the translation, my emotions consisted of nothing but dreadful zeal. We had already completed more than two-thirds of the excavation necessary to recover the hidden treasure, and we now in fact had proof that there was indeed treasure at the bottom of the pit. This was surely a reason to start up our campaign again, for we would no longer be digging in suspected vain.
My friends were, for some reason or another, not as excited about this latest development. Daniel and Anthony just wanted to move on with their lives and not be held captive by dreams of what may in fact lie at the bottom of the pit. Samuel, on the other hand, did not want to get his hopes up again just to have them crushed like before. Therefore, on my own, I contacted Simeon Lynds and solicited his company’s help to continue on with the dig. Much to my dismay, he told me that the Onslow Company had no more funds left for such a job and that he himself had continued on to other business ventures. Under these aforementioned circumstances, I was more than reluctant to give up altogether on finding the treasure, but knew that it was in my best interest to do so.
It was not until 42 years later that another attempt was made to explore the pit on Oak Island. At this point in time I was a man of 72 years of age. I never completely shut out the thoughts of finding the hidden treasure, and to some extent this had held me back from achieving some of my career goals. In a way, I wish that I had never laid my eyes on the pit, for in the end it did me more harm than good. I paid close attention to this new excavation, however, for my obsession was too strong to control.
The Truro Company, created and funded by investors, re-excavated the pit to some degree of success, depending on what your definition of the word “success” is. The pit had naturally been filled up to the top with mud and debris from the flooding waters since the last dig 42 years ago. The Truro Company, however, was able to dig to a depth of 86 feet without much difficulty. In spite of this, they shouldn’t have been surprised when the pit started to flood with water. To their good fortune, the flooding was not nearly as intense as those that occurred earlier in history. They knew from past accounts that there would be another oaken platform blocking the way at 90 feet, so they ingeniously built their own platform directly above the aforementioned platform, and from their implemented an extremely large pod auger in order to drill through the oaken platform that had caused precious difficulties and to continue on with their excavation. Once they had drilled through the 90 foot deep platform, they came upon another one, this time made out of spruce, at a depth of 98 feet. As they continued to bore into the ground, a loud clanking noise was emitted from the pit. By means of extreme effort, the excavators pulled the drill out of the pit and discovered that wrapped around the tip of the drill were numerous chains of the most elegant gold.
The excavators were very optimistic after discovering this gold that they had hit the motherload. They decided to continue to drill further into the pit when a member of the team discovered that the flood water rose and fell with the tide. Assessing the situation, the diggers came to the conclusion that the ocean water was filling the pit through some sort of man-made tunnel. Astonished at how much effort the creators of the pit went through to protect whatever lay below by building such clever obstacles, the Truro Company (although becoming increasingly frustrated) delighted themselves in thinking about how important the treasure must be.
For the next few months the workers put extreme effort into finding the opening of the tunnel. The work had finally paid off when someone came across piles of clay on the sandy beach of Smith’s Cove, approximately 500 feet away from the pit. Upon further examination, it was found out that there were artificial layers of natural material that lied on top of the original beach. The workers dug through the sand to uncover more coconut fibers of large quantities. With their anticipation rising, they continued on to dig past the fibers and came upon dead grass that was inches deep. Lastly, after removing the grass, they came upon larges beach stones that covered up numerous drains that seemed to point in the direction of the pit.
A cofferdam was subsequently built around the beach of Smith’s Cove in order to block any more water from flooding the pit. This idea was of no use, however. The excavators then thought of rerouting the tunnel by digging several ditches for the water to fill into, but once again this idea had failed, for the pit still flooded with water whenever the tide rose. It started to become apparent to the workers that the constructors and designers of the pit had truly made access to the bottom impossible. Ultimately, in 1851, the Truro Company ran out of funds and had to abandon the dig.
As of right now, in 1861, another search for the hidden treasure has been started up by the Oak Island Association. The group supposedly consists of many expert excavators and treasure hunters; however this reputation has indubitably been ripped to shreds, for one of their men died while trying to pump out the water from the pit. According to the local papers, the group was using new, state of the art pumps powered by steam which malfunctioned when one of the boilers ruptured. This led to one man being scorched to death while injuring many others.
It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that I will never know what lies at the bottom of the pit that my friends and I discovered over 65 years ago. In my old age I have tried to settle my obsession with the pit, for it has truly been the focal point of my life since I was the young ripe age of 18. This in some ways is bothersome to me, for at times I feel like I have wasted my life fixating on every detail and development of the search for the buried treasure. Yet there are still no hard, steadfast facts that make any individual 100 percent positive that there is indeed a hidden hoard of riches that lie at the bottom of the pit.
I am approaching my final years, and although I relentlessly try to put the pit out of my mind, I am unable to do so. Perhaps God will grant my mind some quietude before I pass, but if not I am willing to accept that I brought this debilitating passion on myself the moment I laid eyes on the pit.
I shall wait and see what occurrences take place in the coming years, but I am relatively sure that nothing of significance will come about. It is almost inevitable that I will die without ever knowing what lies at the bottom of the pit that has taken control over my life, and to some degree I am okay with that. The main point of my relaying this story to you is to help the venture carry on, for so much hard work has taken place that to abandon the excavation altogether would surely be of the utmost disappointment to all that have kept tabs on the events. Perhaps one day soon I will be looking down at the pit and see what the treasure hunters finally pull up from the bottom. Yet if this does not happen, I will continue to torment myself with my addiction to the thoughts of the unknown, however long that may be.
Copyright ©2014 Russell Lehmann