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Oak Island: trick or treasure?

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In 1795, three boys discovered the top of an underground shaft on tiny Oak Island, a low-lying, offshore islet a few kilometres west of Chester (it’s signposted on Rte-3, but the causeway is closed to the public). The shaft, or “Money Pit”, soon attracted the attentions of treasure-hunters, who were convinced this was where a vast horde of booty had been interred. At first the betting was on Drake, Kidd or Morgan, but present favourites include the Templars and even Elizabethan scientist Francis Bacon. No treasure has ever been found, but the diggings became so dangerous (four men died here in 1965) the island’s owners (treasure-hunter Dan Blankenship and the US-based Michigan Group), have closed it to the public (though they restarted the search themselves in 2009).

You can view a small but comprehensive exhibit on the island – the Explore Oak Island Display (free) – at the Chester Tourist Information Office. The Friends of Oak Island Society (w friendsofoakisland.com) organizes 2hr walking tours of the island, usually on select weekends May–Oct at 2pm ($10).

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