The Curse of Oak Island star Rick Lagina was just 11 years old when he picked up an edition of Reader’s Digest and first his eyes on an article that would change his life forever.
The January 1965 edition of the publication — which was at the time the best-selling magazine in the United States — included an article reprinted from The Rotarian magazine and written by David MacDonald.
It’s title? “Oak Island’s Mysterious ‘Money Pit’.”
The subheading, enough to entice any 11 year old worth their salt (and any mystery-loving adult for that matter), added: “There is something down there — but for 170 years no one has been able to solve the riddle of how to get at it.”
He didn’t know it yet, but for the young Rick — who like his younger brother Marty loved adventure stories like The Hardy Boys books — that article sealed his future.
The Reader’s Digest story was in fact the same one that sparked an interest in the Oak Island mystery in fellow treasure-hunter and The Curse of Oak Island star Dan Blankenship, who moved to the island the same year it was published.
The article delved into how the famous Money Pit was first discovered by 16-year-old Daniel McInnes all the way back in 1795, when he stumbled across an “odd depression” at one end of the island. McInnes and two of his friends, Tony Vaughan and Jack Smith, then found mystery oak platforms every 10 feet down as they dug deeper and deeper into the ground.
The article went on to chronicle the massive and repeated efforts by various teams over the decades to try and find out just what is down there. Booby traps, deaths, $1,500,000 (at the time) already spent on trying to uncover the island’s secrets — this story had it all.
The article also included a diagram showing what had been found at various depths in the Money Pit, and included a picture of a prominent oak tree that used to sit at the top — which has since gone.
The article ended with a 1955 quote from petroleum engineer George Greene, who had spent time drilling on the island for a syndicate of Texas oilmen.
It said: “Someone went to a lot of trouble to bury something here. And unless he was the greatest practical joker of all time, it must have been well worth the effort.”
And so with that sentence did the little Rick Lagina set off into a future that would one day see him and his more skeptical brother Marty find themselves at the center of the biggest treasure hunt the world has ever seen.
The Reader’s Digest article had a slightly different layout in the US and Canadian versions of the magazine — with it starting on page 136 of the American edition and more prominently, on page 22, of the Canadian one.
As Rick and Marty grew up in Northern Michigan, it is more likely that the young Rick read the US version. Here it is in full below, with all its wonder and mystery, used with permission from www.oakislandtreasure.co.uk:
You can also read the article online on the Reader’s Digest site. Could you be the next person lured in by the mystery?
The Curse of Oak Island Season 5 returns to History on November 7 at 9/8c.