Five Curse of Oak Island Theories That Have Been Debunked

As the History Channel’s “The Curse of Oak Island” reaches its fifth season finale, the series continues to explore efforts to find supposed hidden treasure on Nova Scotia’s Oak Island. In 1765 sixteen year old Daniel McGinnis and two friends rowed to the supposedly deserted Oak Island to explore. Apparently he found evidence of a previous explorer, a wooden tackle box suspended over a sunken depression in the ground and two log platforms. Ever since, theories have abounded about hidden treasure buried on the island, yet nothing has been found. The stories got the attention of Michigan brothers Marty and Rick Lagina who read a Readers Digest article about Oak Island in 1965. The brothers explore the island and the theories in the History Channel series.

Here are five “Curse of Oak Island” theories that have been debunked.

Exaggerated accounts

Daniel McGinnis’ accounts of his discoveries on Oak Island most likely were exaggerated over the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Accounts from 1765 never mention the specific findings of McGinnis and his friends. In fact, he found logs in a pit and evidence that there had been a tackle box attached to a tree. As the story progressed and began to attract more attention by the early 1800’s, the story of the tackle box, platforms and depression gained popularity. Random explorers were attracted to the island and eventually more serious efforts were made to explore the pit.

Buried treasure

Explorers of Oak Island believe hidden treasure was buried on Oak Island long before Daniel McGinnis rowed to the secluded island. Theories of who hid treasure on Oak Island include pirates, British troops and Freemasons. Freemasons may have taken great strides to hide treasure on the secluded Oak Island. Although some compelling evidence has been presented, there is nothing concrete. Coconut fibers led to pirate theories. During the eighteenth century, the closest coconuts found near Oak Island would have been more than 800 miles away in Bermuda. Apparently some evidence of Freemason codes have been found on the island. It’s difficult to ignore these intriguing artifacts. However, who is to say that these items were not left behind by explorers over the centuries to spice up the intrigue? There is no real documentation to catalogue artifacts found on the island.

The inscribed stone

One of the biggest mysteries of Oak Island is an inscribed stone supposedly found on the island. Tales of the cryptic message have furthered the idea of buried treasure and who might have buried it. In fact, the stone may never have existed and could easily have been invented to further the myth of buried treasure, making the story of Oak Island more intriguing. The stone was never traced or copied until a New England writer, Edward Rowe Snow, published symbols from the alleged stone in 1948 and came up with his own translation. Most likely, Snow’s depictions of a stone and translation of its symbols added to the folklore of Oak Island.


Speaking of debris, Oak Island is filled with debris left behind by explorers. It’s easy to speculate that some of the debris and artifacts were left by ancient treasure hoarders, but when you look at the whole picture, there’s a better explanation. Since 1765, countless explorers have visited Oak Island in search of the treasure. Freelance explores and big mining companies have excavated the tunnels and created more tunnels. Forty pits have been dug since the first attempt The result is a changed landscape and a series of collapsed mines. For each mine dug on the island, debris, mining equipment and tools were left behind. There are no proper records of each exploration, so the island is basically a mess of old mines. In fact, the original “Money Pit” is now a 40 meter deep, 30 meter wide pit. The debris was dumped on the bay’s beach in attempts to plug up the “flooding tunnels”.

Flooding tunnels

One of the biggest theories trying to prove buried treasure on Oak Island are flooding tunnels. Explorations into the “Money Pit” have been hampered due to flooding tunnels into the pit believed to have been created to prevent attempts to find the hidden treasure. It’s difficult to believe that sixteen and seventeenth century pirates would have made such serious efforts to dig 90 foot tunnels from the bay to the pit. Divers would have been needed and the project would have taken weeks or even months. Even British troops or American Freemasons would have had to take great efforts to create the flooding tunnels, and would it have really been worth it in such a remote place? The island is actually made up of limestone and anhydrite. These minerals have created a natural honeycomb of subterranean caverns and sinkholes throughout the island.

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