Oak Island is a privately owned island on the shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. The small island, which covers 140 acres (570,000 m²), is famous for the legend of the Money Pit, which many believe to be the site where buried treasure is hidden. The many stories about the Money Pit have made Oak Island one of the most famous private islands in the world.
The first documented mention of the Money Pit happened over 150 years ago. In 1856, a series of newspapers, including the Liverpool Transcript, reported the story of a 16-year-old who in 1795 had discovered a depression on Oak Island, and, upon excavating it, had come across a deposit of flagstones and logs. This led the teenager to believe there was some kind of primitive construction in the hole, possibly as a shelter for something. The boy returned with some friends and they kept digging until they reached 30 feet (10 m), but found nothing.
Almost a decade later, a company called Onslow arrived in Oak Island with the sole purpose of examining the Money Pit. During the excavation, they found several layers of logs, stones, charcoal, and coconut fiber; at 90 feet (27 m) down, they found a large flagstone with an inscription that read: "Twenty feet below, 2 million pounds lie buried." When they continued excavating, the pit flooded. Over a dozen companies have attempted to locate the Money Pit without success. Even former US president Franklin Roosevelt was part of an excavation group in 1909. Steel-magnate Gilbert Hedden bought the island in 1929 in hopes of locating the treasure, but he also failed.
The most popular theory is that the Money Pit contains treasure buried there by either Captain Kidd or Edward Teach (Blackbeard), but others have suggested that it may be the remains of a wrecked Spanish galleon or Inca gold. Some believe the treasure may not even be gold. Several scholars suggested Oak Island may be the hiding place for the Holy Grail, or even for a series of documents proving that philosopher Francis Bacon is the real author of Shakespeare's plays. While theories abound, the truth is that nobody has been able yet to locate the famous Money Pit on Oak Island. The area is now owned by a group of US businessmen who promised to take on the search for the buried treasure even further. Oak Island can be visited by anybody as long as they request permission beforehand. Aficionado treasure hunters can still be seen in the island periodically.