At the heart of the Oak Island mystery is the original pit first discovered by Daniel McInnis, John Smith, and Anthony Vaughn in the summer of 1795. Soon and forever after known as the “Money Pit”. Undoubtedly named for what was expected to come out of it but alas, a name equally appropriate to represent the vast sums of money which have been poured into it over these many decades of searching.
Like many of Oak Island’s secrets, it is not known whether a “treasure” still rests at the bottom of the Money Pit, or once existed but was previously removed, or whether it was, as some speculate, a cunning diversion from the real location of the treasure, in whatever form that may take.
As previously stated there are conflicting views as to what was encountered at various levels as searches excavated the original pit, but it is reasonable to say that there were at least two or three oak log platforms and possibly more, as well as “marks” to denote ten foot intervals i.e. putty or charcoal.
From 1804 onward, when the search had resumed, there appears to have been more detailed records kept. This allowed for a more accurate picture of the shaft to emerge and yet there are still conflicting facts. One of the most intriguing of the early finds occurred at the 80-90' level. A stone with crude symbols cut on the surface was found face down in the shaft. You can learn more about this "inscribed stone" in another article.
It was shortly after encountering the stone that the searches were introduced to Oak Island’s most enduring and frustrating defense mechanism… water. In an excerpt from a highly regarded book on Oak Island, "The Oak Island Mystery" written by R.V. Harris in 1958, we learn that:
"Until the ninety-foot level was reached, no water had been encountered. At ninety feet, however, the earth in the centre of the Pit become softer and water began to show itself. At ninety-three feet it increased and they took out one tub of water to two of earth. Night coming on, they, as was their usual practice, probed the bottom with a crowbar to if they could strike anything below. At the depth of ninety-eight feet, five feet below, they met a hard, impenetrable substance, bounded by the sides of the Pit. Some supposed it was wood and others called it a chest. Then they left for the night to resume in the morning, when they fully expected to solve the mystery. This circumstance put them all in good spirits and during the evening a good deal of discussion arose as to who should have the largest share of the treasure. But their great expectations were shattered, for the next morning they found sixty feet of water in the Pit! Nothing daunted, they set to work to clear the water with their bailing buckets, but all to no purpose, for there it stood at the same height. They soon found that their appliances were not sufficient for the emergency."
The searches had unwittingly sprung the trap set by the original architects of the Money Pit to conceal and protect whatever it is they were protecting. The “Flood Tunnel” as it was deemed triumphed over numerous attempts to dig around it, under it, or avert its flow. The flood tunnel system is covered in greater detail in another article.
Many questions are often put forward regarding the Money Pit:
- Did the original builders/architects of the Money Pit have a way to turn off the water?
- Was the actual treasure buried in another chamber above the high water mark and yet concealed from the surface?
- Was there another way into the “treasure chamber(s)” that did not involve the Money Pit?
- Is the Money Pit simply a decoy to avert and occupy the searcher’s efforts i.e. why leave the tackle block (if it actually existed)?
- What if "what" was deposited there, was never intended to be recovered?
Regardless, reaching the bottom of the Money Pit should expose a connection to what was created on the Island and hopefully the nature of its purpose.