A mystery surrounding Oak Island has spanned 220 years. But two brothers have worked none stop to find some amazing answers to the questions that have kept their minds racing for so long.
Life Changing Story
In 1965, Rick Lagina was just 11 years of age when he found a copy of Reader’s Digest. He was amazed by a story about this little island in Nova Scotia, Canada, by the name of Oak Island. He was determined to find the treasure brought up in the article.
From Day One
Young Rick was already into treasure hunts and loved to explore from an early age. His first discovery was a granite rock and so he got his brother Marty and a bunch of friends to move it to see what was underneath. Despite not finding much, this was what made him fall in love with finding treasure. Eventually, the Oak Island mystery would become their lifelong desire. But what was it that drew them to it in the first place?
A Long Time Ago
Long before the Laginas were even a thought in the world, the mystery of Oak Island was being investigated. In 1804, young boy Daniel McGinnis’ discovery led the Onslow Company to do a full inspection of the island. Under all the materials, they found symbols on the stone that they tried to decipher. Then, in 1866, a professor was able to interpret what the markings meant. He found something very interesting…
The peculiar message translated as “Forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried.” There were no other details in the message, such as what currency it was. Also, the researchers were unsure whether this was genuine or not. However, there is a worrying curse that has been attached to the island for a long time. It is believed that seven people must die before the island’s treasure is discovered. When the Lagina’s heard about this, they didn’t know where to start.
Over time, many theories have been conjured up as to how the treasure may have got to Oak Island in the first place. One theory is that Marie Antoinette sent her maid there during the French Revolution. Another theory claims that it actually was not William Shakespeare who wrote all of those iconic plays, but actually Francis Bacon. The manuscripts that proved Bacon to be the author of such works were hidden along with a bunch of treasure.
Wait, There’s More
Here is another theory of how the treasure could have got there: it is believed to be Captain Kidd’s pirate treasure. The crew went to the island and buried a lot of gold there. Blackbeard was another suspect to have buried the treasure at some point in history. Others believe that Spanish sailors hid treasure there during the American Revolution so that the British didn’t find it. But there was one particular theory that captured many researchers’ attention.
The Big Theory
One of the most popular theories is that a secret vault was constructed by York Rite Freemasons. This is because many Masonic markings have been detected on the island. Similarly, Francis Bacon was also connected and believed to have potentially led a Rosicrucian cult while he visited the island. During this time, he hid religious texts and gradually, the myth gained more and more validity. There was one person determined enough to confirm whether it was true or not…
This is when Daniel McGinnis came into the fold and made the search his own. In 1795, the young teen was strolling around Oak Island and notice something strange – a circular depression. He saw a tree inside it that had branches cut from it. After realizing that many legends surrounded the island, such as pirates hiding treasure, he recruited some friends and decided to initiate a full investigation of the area, hoping to find something truly out of the ordinary.
Gang On The Hunt
After getting some friends to join him on his adventure, Daniel looked carefully around the area and made the search a group effort. It didn’t take long before they found something incredible. After digging the depression, they found a large amount of flagstone. They kept digging and discovered many logs. It was eight years before the boy returned to the area along with The Onslow Company. But it was what they found next which completely changed the game…
A Mysterious Discovery
When the boys had grown up and returned to the area, they continued digging with a whole crew to support them. They got through another 60 feet. At first, they didn’t seem to find anything particularly impressive, but then at 90 feet, they found something truly substantial: a stone tablet. This piece of stone had symbols on it and calligraphy. It was so mysterious. After the pit flooded, the crew built an identical one next to it so they could continue searching.
It’s A Trap!
The flooding halted research for a staggering 45 years. It seems though that this misfortune was the result of a trap. A 500-foot waterway had been released as a result of the researchers’ curiosity. Even if the team pumped out the water, it would be refilled by the sea. Someone must have designed the trap so that no one found what was below. Then, in 1847, the Truro Company tried to solve the puzzle. After drilling, they found some much-needed clues.
They finally got what they were looking for – two chests with coins filled to the brim. They also found a bunch of gold links that were remnants of a chain. But the origins of this chain remained a mystery. In 1850, the explorers returned to the pit and drilled another hole close to the previous one. But once again, it filled with water and the crew were forced to retreat. However, after all, hope seemed to be lost, another huge discovery was made.
A New Discovery
At Smith’s Cove, a member of the team noticed something interesting. Water was coming from the beach, meaning that a drain system was discovered. A hand-shaped filtering system had been constructed by its designers. The team’s initial plan was to build a dam to block the treasure from getting into the drains. Despite the fact that a storm destroyed the dam they built, another one was found. And even though the plan ultimately failed, it was just the start of something special.
Fast forward to 1861, and it was now the Oak Island Association who tried to uncover the mystery. However, they failed to find anything substantial and lost somebody along the way. While trying to drain the water with new pumps, a boiler burst and killed one of the workers. It seemed like nothing went in the company’s favor, and the story of the worker’s death only led to ghost stories. It acted as a warning to anyone else who wanted to come and explore…
A Strange Code
At the turn of the century, a random group of individuals were wowed by the spooky stories and wanted to find out the truth for themselves. They ended up finding something significant between the layers of mud. They discovered a vault and drilled into it. It was in there that they found a parchment made out of sheepskin. The letters “vi, “ui” and “wi” were inscribed onto it. And although the letters have still not been deciphered, the crew were forced to cancel the hunt.
One of the workers, Maynard Kaiser, was climbing up from the pit he was helping to dig. But his rope, unfortunately, came loose and the man fell to his demise. It was a huge setback for the team and forced them to return home prematurely. But people were still intrigued and would give so much to unravel the truth. People were spending a large amount of time and money to discover what was on Oak Island. But there was still much tragedy to come.
A Future President
It was the 20th Century, and another team called the Old Salvage group joined the search. But they too didn’t find anything of particular worth. The most interesting thing about the expedition was that Franklin D. Roosevelt took part in it. Of course, this man would end up being the President. It was a topic that Roosevelt held very dear to his heart and had much interest in. But it was the next group who came along that made a significant breakthrough.
In 1928, after reading a story in a New York-based newspaper, businessman Gilbert Hedden became engrossed in the idea of discovering the truth. So he gathered a group of men and embarked on an adventure to Nova Scotia. Along with Fred Blair, he went to the island, and a new investigation was underway. He carefully orchestrated a series of engineering marvels that would ensure safer drilling. But it turned out that what he found outside of the pits would be much more significant.
Hedden’s search was fully underway, and the first thing he found was a piece of stone that had symbols inscribed on it. It was very similar to the stone that was found in 1804. Then he discovered pieces of timber. Hedden deduced that these were original materials that were used to build the first pit. This was mainly because wooden pins were used to join them together. It turns out these pieces of timber would be part of a much bigger picture in the long run.
Ten years later, another treasure hunter came to make some more discoveries. Erwin Hamilton made two exciting developments in 1939. The first was from materials that he believed to be from another part of the world. This means that someone must have put them there. Then, after drilling into limestone, he discovered that there was wood underneath the natural material. They wanted to answer the questions surrounding this mystery. But it seemed like with each discovery that was being made; more questions were being asked.
Father And Son
Towards the end of the 50s, a man by the name of Robert Restall went to Oak Island with his son to solve the mystery by themselves. It had been 165 years since the search had begun and against all the odds, the pair made a breakthrough. A rock with “1704” on it was found. As a result, his whole family relocated to the island so he could finish what he started. But in 1965, his dream ended when he inhaled carbon monoxide and died in the pit.
Unbelievably, Restall’s son also had the same fate when he was trying to save him. And that wasn’t all. Two workers also died from the same causes trying to save them. So far, six people had been recorded dead from attempting to unlock the mystery of Oak Island. Eerily, according to the legend, one person needed to die before the discovery was finally made. But would the prophecy be fulfilled? Or would more people die to no avail?
Not Giving Up
But it would not be too long before the next person came along to continue the search. Robert Dunfield took bulldozers and cranes to the site and discovered a huge space below the pit’s limestone. Another searcher who went by the name of Daniel C. Blankenship found iron scissors, which were apparently 300 years old and could be traced to Spanish explorers. A heart-shaped stone was also discovered. Soon, new technology would be used to further the long search.
The Triton Alliance
Once the 70s came along, Dunfield and Blankenship joined forces with other researchers to form the Triton Alliance. Together, they built a cofferdam and in the process, discovered the remains of the original cofferdam. Now that the team had advanced technology such as cameras and monitors, they were able to use such tools to their advantage. So they lowered the cameras down one of the shafts, and once it reached the cave, they discovered some incredible things…
Upon recording what they found, Blakenship and over members of the Triton Alliance believe they spotted treasure chests, tools and maybe even bodies. But the images were not so clear and they could not confirm whether these findings were true or not. This wasn’t all: they also found logs that had Roman numerals carved into them. The team was able to date the wood of the logs back to 250 years before. But the alliance was just scratching the surface.
Pieces To The Puzzle
They weren’t sure what to make of the iron nails, pieces of metal and wooden structures they found on the western part of the island. They even found a pair of leather shoes. However, they started to realize that all these things were connected and that they became parts of a bigger picture. The alliance could sense that they were on the verge of something huge and nothing was going to get in their way. Or so they thought…
As the team gathered images via their camera, it was proving to be difficult to find anything clear to indicate what was at the bottom. This wasn’t helped by the strong water current. This made the mission 0verwhelming, and the alliance was forced to retreat. That, as well as a lack of funds, meant that they had to stop working together. This is where our story comes full circle. There was Rick Lagina, reading this exact information in Reader’s Digest.
For a while, the Triton Alliance seemed like the last hope for this nearly 200-year-long treasure hunt. It was even covered on the TV Show In Search Of…, ensuring the masses knew about this crazy tale. Then, a series of legal issues arose between the Triton Alliance and Fred Nolan. Throughout the 80s, both parties staked their claim to multiple lots on Oak Island. Finally, after a long hiatus, the Lagina brothers started to take a serious interest in the mystery.
Enter The Laginas
In 2005, part of Oak Island went up for sale. It was believed to be in the region of $7 million and was on the cusp of being acquired by the Canadian Government. However, the Lagina brothers came along and took matters into their own hands. Despite being successful businessmen, the pair were hungry to unravel the mystery and purchased 50% of Oak Islands Tours Inc. This meant that the brothers had carte blanche to do as they pleased on this enigmatic island.
Brothers On The Hunt
They were two men possessed. Rick and Marty Lagina needed to know the answers behind this island that was shrouded in strange questions. After so much work and sacrifice had been put into the search by previous parties, the brothers had the resources to take it to the next level. With the technology they had, they were able to search the entire island and leave no stone unturned. But this wasn’t the only thing going in their favor…
Look, We’re On TV!
The Lagina’s determination captured the imagination of millions when their search was covered on the History Channel. The show The Curse of Oak Island documented their endeavors and earnt them lots of support from fellow researchers. The show gave them tons of credibility and even compelled organizations to provide financial aid towards the cause. So they had the technology, they had the desire and now they had the funds. But would it all be worth it?
In this sort of situation, it’s all about what you know and who you know. For the Lagina’s, they ticked both of these boxes. Not only do they have experience of digging wells, but they also have many connections who are skilled in these areas and were able to lend machinery. Through Marty’s experience working in gas wells and a background in digging, the brothers knew where to turn to for the best help possible and the know-how to make the search as successful as possible.
Gotta Have Faith
From as long as he could remember, Rick always had the dream of uncovering the mystery of Oak Island. It was his idea to purchase Oak Island Tours and without his fervent attitude, the brothers may not have embarked on this adventure together. Marty has been honest about the brothers’ chances of success on the island. “Rick is the believer and he’s not going quit until it’s resolved,” Marty said. It seems like Rick’s optimism has spurred Marty on.
Eventually, the brothers made a huge breakthrough when they discovered a 17th-century copper coin. It was Spanish, clearly proving that others had come to the island in the past. Many inhabitants of the island tried to help them in their quest. One tried to prove to them that treasures from King Solomon’s Temple may be on the island. While another person claimed to have links to Francis Bacon’s treasure. But which theory was true? The Laginas were determined to find out.
As time when on, the brothers brought on more experts to assist them in their search. One area that they desperately needed expert knowledge on was how to drain the shaft dug all those years ago. Shortly after, they discovered a stone that has Portuguese words carved onto it. Other findings included a Roman sword, but most of the items they found were only loosely connected to the theories they had heard so much about. They just needed to be patient.
Every Little Detail
Their next big discovery was a French map of Oak Island. It is believed that the map was created in 1347. The theories were getting more and more believable due to the increasing number of relics and discovered items. But there wasn’t one theory that stood out from the others. So many little random details they uncovered and there was still no clear indication of where this was all leading to. But they never gave up and for some reason, the finishing line felt close.
Life Is A Treasure Hunt
Rick Lagina compares their search to an exciting novel. “There’s a story to be written up here,” he said. “Treasure, perhaps, but it’s a truly wonderful story from a long time ago. Every day it feels like we’re turning a page of a really good book. I still believe.” He also compared it to life in general. “To me, life’s a treasure hunt. We’re all on one in our own different way, and we happen to be on a real one right now.”
“If anyone is going to solve this centuries-old mystery, it’s going to be the Laginas,” Charles Barkhouse said. He is a tour guide of Oak Island. “While they have the same drive, dedication and, perhaps, stubbornness as their treasure-hunting predecessors, they also have something that other searchers didn’t have: a willingness to listen.” Barkhouse believes that they are a breath of fresh air. According to him, the Laginas “regularly bring people to the island – engineering professionals, technology experts, historians – to help them.”
The Charm Of The Island
Barkhouse believes that the island has a charm that keeps on luring people in. “Putting one’s life at risk to find something that may or may not be buried is extreme,” he said. “The mystery of Oak Island, though, is that powerful.” For many, hunting for treasure on this island has become an obsession. “No one knows what’s buried here, who buried it or even where it’s buried,” he said. “That’s what excites people — the possibilities.”
A Gift And A Curse
There is no denying the desire that people have to treasure hunt and the Lagina brothers are prime examples of this. They don’t seem to be giving up anytime soon. Barkhouse thinks that “it’s the simple belief that there’s something here” that keeps them coming back for more. The brothers will stop at nothing to solve the mystery of Oak Island. What we can only hope is that the treasure is discovered before a seventh life is claimed…