The Curse of Oak Island

Randall Sullivan

Who doesn’t love pirate stories? Adventure, freedom, exciting battles, chests of gold…  So it’s no surprise the mystery of Oak Island, located off the shores of Nova Scotia, have fascinated us for centuries.

In the late 1790s, a group of teens exploring the heavily wooded island found a sunken depression and some very old block and tackle hanging in a branch over it. They surmised, that something heavy had been buried and started digging. Eventually, they unearthed a wooden platform. And that started the mania. Assuming that something very valuable had been buried there, they bought up property on the island and started the first company to dig for the supposed treasure.

In the golden area of piracy, the most skillful captains were known to have taken booty worth half a billion in modern money. Some retired and lived as gentlemen, others spent it like water, and still others hid it. Oak Island is suspected of being the later – some sort of massive pirate bank.

Early diggers soon discovered that this wasn’t just a case of a simple hole, filled with treasure and then recovered. The entirety of Oak Island is filled with underground tunnels, stuffed with coconut fiber to keep them from silting up. Dig too deep and your hole fills with water, then eventually collapses. Again, and again, and again. Man have lost fortunes, their minds and their lives trying to find the wholly unproven treasure. The rich and famous are as equally attracted as those with fringe quack theories.

The author, Randall Sullivan, gives a solid history of the Oak Island search, bringing the into contemporary times. Sullivan acted as a consultant on a recent project, which still runs as a History Channel TV show. While this is a substantial book, it’s still shorter than watching14 seasons of the show (replete with moody music and camera shots worthy of X-Files).