The Well-Read Historian: The Curse of Oak Island, The Story of the World’s Longest Treasure Hunt by Randall Sullivan

By Carla Charter

I am the first to admit that I opened the Curse of Oak Island by Randall Sullivan with more than a little skepticism.  My fascination began with Oak Island during my teenage years when I first learned of it’s mysteries on a trip to Nova Scotia with my grandparents.  I have never really tuned into the Curse of Oak Island television show though, as it seemed like more reality programming, which I for the most part, had never enjoyed.

However, once I started reading Sullivan’s book, I was pleasantly surprised.  This book rather than discuss in depth the current dig which was the focus of the television programming but instead dives into the history of Oak Island and the search for its treasure.

What treasure is buried there? The book makes clear the answer to that depends on who you speak to.  There are those who believe could be Templar treasure, definitive proof that Sir Francis Bacon wrote the Shakespeare plays, Marie Antoinette’s lost jewels, the Holy Grail, Mayan or Incan gold or maybe pirate treasure among other possibilities. Each theory is explained in greater detail than I could ever explain in this column, but each theory has its proponents and its possibilities.

Those currently digging at the site, are not the first to go on the Oak Island treasure hunt.  Starting in the 1795 when the money pit was first discovered, a number of treasure seekers and the treasure hunting companies they formed have searched for the island’s treasure.  This hunt is not as easy as it sounds, as any potential treasure is protected by flood chambers pouring sea water into the pits.

The search has taken its toll in deaths on the island as well. In 1861 an unknown man died in a boiler explosion on the island. Maynard Kaiser died in 1897 after falling into a shaft.  In 1965 a father and son Robert Restall and Robert Restall Jr. along with Cyril Hiltz and Carl Graeser died due to bad air at the bottom of a shaft.

As for the treasure itself, it still remains a mystery. Despite this, tantalizing clues have been uncovered throughout the search.  A piece of eight here or there or mysteriously marked stones have been discovered. Yet the treasure itself, if there is one, still remains elusive.

So with autumn upon us, if you want to curl up with a book which will take you on a treasure hunt yet still leaves you with more questions than answers, then The  Curse of Oak Island by Randall Sullivan, will definitely be the book for you.