Oak Island is an unremarkable patch of land located off the coast of Nova Scotia. At one mile long and 35 feet high, it resembles a sandbar more than an island.

Though Oak Island may be lacking on a geographic scale, it has enough mystery to engage Velma for an entire season.

Unworldly lights, curses, demon dogs, cryptic messages, phantom soldiers — this place has it all, but the lure of sunken pirate treasure put Oak Island on the map. Treasure seekers have lugged their shovels here to break its frozen ground in hopes of finding whatever lies at the bottom of the infamous Money Pit. Now, after 200 years, millions of dollars and six fatal accidents, nobody has yet claimed its prize. Even the rich and famous have challenged the Money Pit and lost; John Wayne, Errol Flynn and Franklin D. Roosevelt to name a few.

The Money Pit
In 1795, three teenagers noticed a depression in the ground near an old oak tree, the namesake of Oak Island. With local legends of pirate treasure in their heads, the boys began digging. Every 10 feet they ran into a “floor” of oak logs, solidly anchored in the hole. After 30 feet and three floors they gave up.

The pit lay undisturbed for seven years, but in 1803 the boys returned as hired hands for an investor convinced treasure existed beneath the oak tree. Working in shifts, the men dug down to 90 feet and continued to hit oak floors at every 10 feet. They also ran into layers of coconut fibers, even though the nearest coconut tree was 1500 miles away. At 90 feet, the crew unearthed a flat rock inscribed with a series of geometric shapes. Language experts have offered two unrelated translations to this cryptic message

The first translation fueled existing speculation of pirate plunder. The second translation introduced a new theory: The pit was a burial chamber for a religious leader of an ancient Christian sect. Many researchers question the validity of this message altogether since no outside party had ever seen it. Supposedly the stone had been discarded by a crew member shortly after being discovered.

With fired imaginations, the crews continued to dig. At 110 feet they pierced through another log barrier with an iron rod, somehow causing the pit to fill with sea water. After failed bailing attempts, the investor withdrew funding and the crews left the island.

In 1849 another treasure hunting syndicate challenged the Money Pit. They ultimately failed like the adventurers before and after them, but not until making two astounding discoveries. First, using hand augers to collect core samples from the pit, sheepskin parchment and gold links were extracted.

Secondly, these men discovered an ingenious network of flood tunnels that had been built into the pit to deter excavation efforts. Using hydraulic principles and a coconut fiber-based filtration system, whenever select layers of the pit were penetrated, as with the iron rod in 1803, water from the nearby ocean floods the pit faster than it can be pumped out. To this day, nobody has gotten to the bottom of this mystery, literally, because of this masterful defense.

What type of treasure or secret would warrant such an effort to conceal it forever? Here are the most popular theories:

• Pirate treasure
• Burial chamber of Coptic religious leader
• Viking spoils
• Colonial plunder
• Ark of the Covenant
• Templar riches
• England’s crown jewels
• Documents proving Francis Bacon authored Shakespeare’s writings
• Nothing. It’s merely a diversion from the real treasure’s location

I find the burial chamber theory to be the most feasible. These early Christians dropped their leader in a natural sink hole, then meticulously filled it in. The arif was dressed in golden chain mail and buried with religious texts written on sheepskin parchment.

I can’t explain why these Coptics wired this burial site like it was a stage set for an Indiana Jones movie. But, I do pose the same question to proponents of the pirate treasure theory. How did these swashbucklers plan to make future withdrawls?