Friday, July 3, 2009

The Oak Island Treasure Mystery : a 19th century hoax?

Buried treasure enthusiasts may be interested in my column on the famous Oak Island "money pit" across the water in Nova Scotia in the current issue of Working Waterfront. The article airs the case for this -- perhaps the most famous "buried treasure" mystery of them all -- having been a 19th century hoax gone wild.

As others have noted before me, the legends surrounding Oak Island -- rehashed in a shelf's worth of books -- bear many of the characteristics of those in circulation in New England and New York in the 18th and 19th centuries, when thousands were afflicted with treasure digging mania, digging up islands, fields, and hillsides from Manhattan to Mount Desert.

The piece has only been out for two days, but I'm already getting mail from Oak Island cognoscenti. One, who runs this website, notes that technically the current owners of Oak Island don't yet have permission to resume digging and, due to last month's provincial elections in Nova Scotia, may have difficulty securing it. (Nova Scotia's Treasure Trove Act -- yes, there really is one -- allegedly has enemies within the new ruling party.)

Perhaps the treasure really is defended by evil spirits.

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