25 little known facts about the Curse of Oak Island

Rick Lagina

The Curse of Oak Island has kept us glued to our screens since 2014 and there seems to be a never-ending list of theories about what might be buried below the surface. Is it mountains of pirate treasure, Shakespeare’s forgotten manuscripts, or even the Ark of the Covenant? As the current season draws to a close, viewers around the world are religiously tuning in to see what the Lagina brothers and their fellowship might find next. So much has already been written about the mysterious island, so it’s time to uncover 25 facts in five bitesize sections that even the most die-hard of fans won’t know. You’re welcome.

CAST

1. Seasons

By the end of Season 9, 145 episodes of Oak Island will have been broadcast over the space of just under eight years. At 60 minutes a show, including the specials, that’s 8715 minutes of Curse Island action, right there.

2. Specials

And speaking of specials, there have been 14 specials broadcast over the nine seasons, with six of these lasting for two hours. But why did the specials only run between Seasons 5 and 6?

3. Record Viewers

Season 4 Episode 15 holds the record for the most viewers: 3.79 million. This was the episode that featured Dr Lori Verderame dating the Gold Cross between 1500 and 1700.

4. Cast Numbers

There are 23 full-time cast members of Oak Island, but originally there was only 10. Throughout the seasons there have been plenty of guests and experts to help uncover the island's secrets. 13 of these re-occur regularly with another nine who have made significant, albeit usually one-off, appearances.

5. Farewells

Sadly, over the course of the series we’ve said goodbye to Dan Blankenship, Drake Tester, Fred Nolan, Zena Halpern and Joyce McGinnis. Our condolences to their families and loved ones.

HISTORY

6. Occupation

In the 1750s a few French fishermen built some houses close to what would be Chester, but it wasn’t until British colonists arrived from New England in 1759 that the land was officially made available for settlement.

7. Printed History

The earliest known story of a treasure found on Oak Island appeared in print in 1857, by a settler named Daniel McGinnis. However, rumours of treasure on Oak Island have been circulating since the end of the 18th century.

8. Mapping the Island

The geology of Oak Island wasn’t mapped until 1924 by J. W. Goldthwaite. He was working for the Geological Survey of Canada, and noted that the island itself may be over 75,000 years old.

9. The 1965 Causeway

Four years before Rick and Marty Lagina even read about Oak Island, a special causeway had been built to allow heavy digging equipment onto the island to search for the missing treasure.

10. Readers Digest

A 1969 edition of Readers Digest featured an article on Oak Island’s Money Pit. This piqued the interest of the stars of the show and the rest, as they say, is history.

TECHNOLOGY

11. Sonic Drilling

In Season 6, Episode 3, a sonic drill is used to take cores in an area of interest, which is later designated DE-6. The drill works like an ordinary power drill but uses vibrating frequencies of sound to push the bit into the material.

12. Laser Ablation

In the Season 6 premiere, laser ablation is selected to determine the origins of a lead cross. This process involves irradiating a surface with a laser beam to remove material from a usually solid surface, and discover what lies beneath.

13. LIDAR

In Season 6, Episodes 9 and 10, LIDAR is used to make a 3D reading of the 90-foot stone and the carved stone respectively. LIDAR works by firing lasers at an object and measuring the amount of time it takes the reflected light to bounce back to the sensor.

14. Gyro Survey

A Gyro Survey is also conducted to discover how straight the boreholes are in the Money Pit. For this, a gyrotheodolite uses the physical laws of a gyroscope in conjunction with a theodolite to measure angles between two designated points.

15. Dendrochronology

The wooden structure at Smith's Cove required further examination in Season 8 Episode 20. Step up dendrochronology, used to understand different climate and atmospheric conditions during its history but, essentially, is tree-ring dating with knobs on.

CELEBRITIES

16. Captain Kidd

The Quedagh Merchant, a vessel that became notorious after being captured by Captain Kidd, was discovered as wreckage on 13th December 2007 off Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic. No treasure was discovered on board which some believe is buried on Oak Island.

17. Francis Drake

The Spanish considered Sir Francis Drake a pirate, entertaining an idea that he was buried on Oak Island in a vault with gold treasure. The fact that Drake died of dysentery and was buried at sea in January 1596 some 5000 km away, suggests otherwise.

18. Francis Bacon

Pulitzer Prize nominee Randall Sullivan believes that Francis Bacon came to Oak Island with Shakespeare’s manuscripts and buried them in a lead box. On another note, Sullivan’s advance for the Billionaire Boys’ Club was, in 1986, the highest advance ever paid to a first-time author. Wow.

19. Samuel Ball

Once he was a child slave who, aged just 11, escaped from a North Carolina plantation, yet by his death on Oak Island in 1845, Ball was the largest landholder in Nova Scotia. Good for him, though no one quite knows how he managed it.

20. Franklin Roosevelt and Marie Antoinette

Franklin Roosevelt claims Marie Antoinette gave her jewels to a lady in waiting during the French Revolution, who later buried them on Oak Island. Antoinette’s last words were recorded as apologising for stepping on her executioner’s shoes, which is a bit grim.

GOOD KNIGHT

21. Knights Templar

In 1307, as he schemed to grab their land and riches, the King of France, Philip IV, accused the Knights Templar of heresy and some of the most dreadful crimes known to humanity. Whatever you read about the Knights Templar, start here first and work backwards.

22. Phoenician Goddess Tanit

In Season 5 Episode 13, the late Zena Halpern claimed that a lead cross was, in fact, a depiction of Tanit.Many historians believe that the cult of Tanit involved child sacrifice. Halpern believed that the Knights Templar worshipped Tanit and accused them of infanticide. (see above)

23. Rosicrucianism

AKA a wealthy spiritual movement that encouraged mere mortals to discover an enlightened world beyond. According to Pulitzer Prize nominee Randall Sullivan, Francis Bacon founded Rosicrucianism, which he believed to have ties to the Knights Templar.

24. The Portuguese Knights of Christ

In Season 3, Episode 4, local historian Terry Deveau believes the cross on the Overton Stone is that of an order called The Portuguese Knights of Christ. The order was founded in Portugal a few years after the Knights Templar were deemed heretics…

25 Knights Templars (part two)

…So, they fled to Portugal where they reformed as the Portuguese Knights of Christ. In 1319, a papal bull was granted to allow the Portuguese Knights’ to inherit the remaining assets of the Knights Templar. The secularized order survives today as the Military Order of Christ.