Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

The Curse of Oak Island

by Randall Sullivan

An investigation into the “curse” of Oak Island, where rumors of buried riches have beguiled treasure hunters over the past two centuries.

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date September 04, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-8905-9
  • US List Price $27.00

About The Book

In 1795, a teenager discovered a mysterious circular depression in the ground on Oak Island, in Nova Scotia, Canada, and ignited rumors of buried treasure. Early excavators uncovered a clay-lined shaft containing layers of soil interspersed with wooden platforms, but when they reached a depth of ninety feet, water poured into the shaft and made further digging impossible.

Since then the mystery of Oak Island’s “Money Pit” has enthralled generations of treasure hunters, including a Boston insurance salesman whose obsession ruined him; a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt; and film star Errol Flynn. Perplexing discoveries have ignited explorers’ imaginations: a flat stone inscribed in code; a flood tunnel draining from a man-made beach; a torn scrap of parchment; stone markers forming a huge cross. Swaths of the island were bulldozed looking for answers; excavation attempts have claimed two lives. Theories abound as to what’s hidden on Oak Island–pirates’ treasure, Marie Antoinette’s lost jewels, the Holy Grail, proof that Sir Francis Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare’s plays–yet to this day, the Money Pit remains an enigma.

The Curse of Oak Island is a fascinating account of the strange, rich history of the island and the intrepid treasure hunters who have driven themselves to financial ruin, psychotic breakdowns, and even death in pursuit of answers. And as Michigan brothers Marty and Rick Lagina become the latest to attempt to solve the mystery, as documented on the History Channel’s television show The Curse of Oak Island, Sullivan takes readers along to follow their quest firsthand.


The drill was raised, slowly and carefully. T. Perley Putnam had been placed in charge of removing, collecting, cataloguing and preserving the borings from the drill’s auger bit. He panned out the dirt from the auger in direct sunlight, then meticulously gathered up everything that floated in the water. There were oak chips and coconut husks, plus a small piece of–well he was not sure what it was, he admitted. Putnam several days later carried the borings he had collected in envelopes to the offices of Dr. A. E. Porter. They had chosen Porter as a consultant, Frederick Blair would explain later, because the doctor owned the most powerful microscope to be found in Nova Scotia at that time.

On September 6, 1897, Porter examined the borings from the Money Pit in the presence of between thirty-five and forty men, including Putnam and Blair. Almost immediately his attention was attracted to the ball of “strange fiber” that Putnam had not been able to identify.

It was only about the size of a grain of rice, as Porter would describe it, with some sort of fuzz or short hair on its surface. Using his medical instruments under the magnifier, Porter worked at this ball of fiber for several minutes, until it slowly began to unfold. After another few minutes, the doctor had it flattened out, whereupon he described it as being a tiny piece of parchment paper with a fragment of writing in black ink that appeared to be parts of either the letters “ui” or “vi” or “wi.”