The Oak Island Money Pit

Money pit on Oak Island

The Oak Island Money Pit located in Nova Scotia, Canada is a site where buried treasure is rumoured to lie. It’s also a site where numerous groups have invested large sums of time and money with little to nothing to show for their effort.

The Discovery of the Money Pit

The Oak Island Money Pit was discovered by accident in 1795 by Daniel McGinnis who, with the help of his two friends, Anthony Vaughan and John Smith, became the first excavators of the site. They boys were young, Daniel being only sixteen, and saw the site as similar to those described as ones used by pirates and expected that they would quickly find pirate treasure.

The Shaft’s Construction

When McGinnis, Vaughn and Smith began to dig they discovered that the walls of the shaft still bore the marks left by the picks used by those who constructed it, something that gave them evidence that the shaft was man made. In 1795, they discovered a layer of flagstone at approximately 1.2 meters deep which was followed at 3 meters by a layer of packed logs. As excavation has proceeded, by the original discoverers and others, more layers of logs have been found along with coconut fibre putty. With coconuts not being native to Nova Scotia this was further proof for the excavators that not only was the shaft not natural, as some have attempted to claim, but also that whoever had dug the shaft must have brought the putty with them from the tropics.

The First Major Setback

In 1795 McGinnis, Vaughn and Smith began their work on the shaft with nothing more than hand tools and quickly realised that they were going to need help and were forced to leave the site. They returned in 1804 with the financial backing of Simeon Lynds, a local businessman. Excavations continued to 27.4 meters, where they discovered a layer of stone, but were halted that day due to bad weather. When the team returned to the site, they discovered that all but approximately 3 meters of the shaft had flooded. An attempt was made to drain the water by digging a drainage shaft next to the pit but the walls to this quickly crumbled and the diggers were lucky to escape with their lives. The second pit also filled with water but did little to ease the flood in the first.

Deaths at the Money Pit

To date, the Money Pit has claimed six lives. The first death occurred in 1861 when a pumping boiler burst and killed a man. In 1887 a worker fell to his death and during the 1960s four men were overcome and killed by fumes while working at the pit.


After decades of excavations and troubles, the treasures that are rumoured to be hidden within the pit on Oak Island have yet to be located. There are many different theories as to whose treasure may be located at the bottom of the pit. Some believe that pirate treasure placed there by Captain Kidd or Blackbeard is going to found. Others believe that naval treasure, perhaps from the Fortress of Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island, or Marie Antoinette’s jewels are hidden on the island. Further stories place treasure from the Knights Templar within the pit, things such as the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant which the Knights were rumoured to possess.

Excavations of the site have continued sporadically throughout the years since its discovery. Setbacks such as the flooding of the pit and a land dispute have made discovery of the treasure difficult for those who seek it. As of July 15, 2010 a group had been granted a Treasure Trove Licence which would allow them to continued to dig for the treasure in the Oak Island Money Pit.