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Oak Island is a tiny island off the coast of Nova Scotia in eastern Canada. One day in 1795 three teenage boys from the mainland rowed to the secluded area to see what they could find. They found something that changed their lives as well as the lives of many others. The youths began the longest and costliest treasure hunt in history.

One of the first things the boys noticed on the island was an old oak tree with a sawed off branch. From the branch hung a ship's tackle block with a hook. And below that was a circular depression in the ground. It was there that the youths began to dig a thirteen foot wide hole.

At ten feet down their shovels struck something hard; it was a platform of oak logs. At twenty feet there was another layer of oak logs and at thirty feet it was the same. The boys sensed that the treasure was beyond their reach and decided to return after they obtained a title to the land and some financial backing.

Backed by a syndicate they returned in 1804. At every ten feet they dug they were stopped by oak platforms. At ninety-five feet they were stopped by water. They came back a year later to dig a shaft parallel to the pit. They tried to burrow to the treasure but this new hole filled with water also. The syndicate folded.

But the men didn't go away empty-handed. When they dug down ninety feet they found a one foot by three foot flat stone. Strange hieroglyphics were etched on it that no one could decipher. It is now lost.

For awhile the island was given a rest. Then in 1849 another syndicate arrived. At ninety-eight feet they drilled into the pit and hit oak planks and something underneath it. When the drill came up bits of gold clung to it. Then once again water filled the hole.

At a nearby cove the men found a manmade tunnel that connected to the pit at 110 feet below ground. The water in it rose and fell with the tide. They plugged the tunnel by building a rocky dam that kept out the sea.

The syndicate decided to build another shaft, twenty-five feet from the pit, to a depth of 118 feet. They planned to come at the gold from below. They tunneled across towards the pit, they were close to getting the treasure when suddenly, the bottom fell out of the treasure chamber and the valuables fell into a dark empty space. To the superstitious it gave credence to the myth that the more your dig at treasure, the more it will sink. On top of this, the dam they built was swept away by high tide. The company went bankrupt.

Almost continually over the years treasure seekers dug for the gold. In 1894 another syndicate tried their luck. The side tunnel to the sea was dynamited and blocked. The company poured money in. The pit poured more water in and the pit won.

In 1939 a second tunnel was discovered at the cove near the first one. It linked with the pit at 150 feet below the surface. And at 180 feet down an underground stream was discovered. But the gold could not be found.

Who's treasure is it? Captain Kidd is given the credit for burying it. Around 1930, in Sussex England, a retired lawyer named Hubert Palmer found three charts in secret compartments of a bureau and chest that were once owned by Captain Kidd. One map showed an island that resembled Oak Island. Others said that it resembled and island in the China Sea. R.A. Skelton, a British map expert, confirmed the maps as authentic as well as Captain Kidd's hand writing.

Men are still digging for the treasure. In August 1971, a group of treasure hunters lowered a remote controlled underwater camera into the pit. At the bottom, 230 feet, it showed what looked like three chests, a human corpse and a severed hand.

--Tony Sakalauskas

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