Gold Fever Dreams

Buried treasure beckons on the Atlantic coast

Oct 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

OVER THE PAST TWO centuries, six men have died in the Money Pit on Nova Scotia's Oak Island, site of the world's most famous treasure hunt. Legend has it that when the Pit claims its seventh life, the treasure will be revealed.

The Pit—which has lured FDR, John Wayne, and Errol Flynn to the hunt—has been variously rumored to hold the loot of Captain Kidd and Blackbeard, the crown jewels of France, and the Holy Grail. In 1795, as the story goes, three local teenagers discovered the shaft and eventually dug to a depth of 90 feet, encountering a stone that supposedly told of a treasure buried another 40 feet down. At 93 feet, they struck a booby trap that filled the cavern with water from the sea.

The Pit has now been explored to more than 200 feet, with little to show for it but several links of a gold chain and persistent rumors of a severed human hand and a preserved corpse deep inside. According to professional skeptic Joe Nickell, who has debunked mysteries from the Shroud of Turin to Jack the Ripper's diary, the shaft and the flood tunnel are natural features in the region's porous limestone geology. "Instead of asking, 'What might this fabulous treasure be?' we should be asking, 'What treasure?'" says Nickell. "If it sounds too good to be true, maybe it is."

Or maybe not.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Open a World of Adventure

Our Dispatch email delivers the stories you can’t afford to miss.

Thank you!