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The Curse of Oak Island premiere recap: Treasure-hunting team head to swamp for biggest season yet

Rick Lagina at the swamp on The Curse of Oak Island Season 7 premiere
Rick Lagina at the swamp on The Curse of Oak Island Season 7 premiere. Pic credit: History

The Curse of Oak Island Season 7 finally premiered last night — and left fans in no doubt that Rick and Marty Lagina and their team are back for the biggest season yet in their quest to solve the 224-year-old treasure mystery.

Due to their new partnership with land owner Tom Nolan, they now have unprecedented access to more of the mysterious island, meaning there is more chance than ever before that the Oak Island mystery may finally be solved.

The Season 7 premiere of History’s hit show begins with anticipation, as Rick sums up the team’s optimism about the promising prospects of what the next few months will bring.

But the mood is tempered by the absence of the late Dan Blankenship, the legendary treasure hunter who devoted most of his life to solving the Oak Island mystery.

Dan died in March and after gathering around the war room table the treasure-hunting team observe a moment of silence in honor of the patriarch of the dig. Everyone assembled agrees that there will not be a single day when they won’t miss him, but vow that he will always have a presence on Oak Island.

Later, an emotional Rick vows to finally give Dan the breakthrough he worked so diligently for, and the rest are all in.

Historic photo of Dan Blankenship
A historic photograph of Dan Blankenship on Oak Island. Pic credit: History

Talk turns to the general plans the team have made for the year’s endeavors, with the swamp perhaps the most promising site on the island going forward. Based on last year’s seismic testing results, the murky bog will be a primary search area. The team hope to determine what the anomaly found there is, although the consensus is that the dimensions are a perfect fit for a sunken ship. “We have to chase it, it’s that simple,” says Rick.

They will secure permits to dig there, but first send diver Tony Sampson to investigate.

As far as the Money Pit goes, they decide there still may be places to investigate there, especially since last year spoils from the S6 borehole included unique timbers. The precise location of the treasure shaft remains elusive, however, and Marty is unsure of what to do next although Rick says there is “a lot of research to be done.”

Following the placement of a 525-foot wide cofferdam at Smith’s Cove last season, a U-shaped structure and slipway were unearthed as well as a stone box drain and concrete wall. Based on the impressive findings, this season they will expand the cofferdam out further in hopes of finding the end of the slipway and a clue as to who built it.

They also hope to find a friend of the infamous lead cross, and eventually Marty concludes the meeting saying, “This has got to be the year guys.”

The action on the ground kicks off with surveyor Steve Guptill, Craig Tester and Rick at the swamp. Previously professional diver Tony Sampson found an 18-foot long wooden plank there, believed to be 400 years old. Sampson is now tasked with determining if a ship is in the swamp. He thinks the odds are in their favor because the swamp has the depth to contain a large vessel.

The late Oak Island treasure hunter Fred Nolan also believed a ship could be buried there, based on finding what he believed could be manmade wooden objects from ships, such as scuppers or drainage holes. Based on his findings, Nolan theorized that initially two islands existed, with the swamp artificially created in order to sink a ship loaded with precious cargo.

Guptill uses a GPS receiver to guide the team to the northernmost point of the swamp anomaly. There is zero visibility beneath the surface so Sampson pounds a metal probe into the bog in order to locate evidence. When he says the rod has hit something solid, Guptill concurs that the general locale lines up pretty well with the anomaly. “That makes this extremely interesting,” says Rick.

Tony Sampson in the swamp
Tony Sampson finds something underneath the water in the swamp. Pic credit: History

Could Tony have found a path or roadway that originated at the shore? He performs a tactile dive and discovers that there are two levels to the object.

Eventually he emerges and exclaims, “I’ve got something!” It is a flat rock, and he later finds two more just like it. Rick thinks it is amazing how flat they are and conjectures they may have found a massive platform.

Sampson believes the rock feature, which is five feet below the surface, may be a manmade architecture, perhaps a stone road.

Later he deploys surface buoys to outline the object and they appear to be going in a remarkably straight line.

Guptill maps out the markers and later, when the seismic data results are displayed, Sampson declares it “appears to be some sort of stone structure almost like a roadway leading into the swamp.”

It is two meters north of the anomaly so with such close proximity could this be an ancient stone wharf or boat dock indicating that the 200 foot anomaly is indeed a ship?

The team think the data shows that the swamp was artificially manipulated and next will drill boreholes through the anomaly and hopefully find wood.

This involves setting up a massive drill rig set on a floating platform, an 800 square foot barge in four sections weighing 5 tons, capable of supporting a 40 ton crane. Overseeing the operation is Fred’s son Tom Nolan, who is now an official member of the treasure-hunting team. His inclusion means that all major Oak Island landowners are now working together to solve mystery.

The drilling platform on a floating rig
The drilling rig on a floating platform in the swamp. Pic credit: History

Elsewhere, Oak Island historian Charles Barkhouse and metal detecting expert Gary Drayton venture to Isaac’s Point on the eastern side of the island. They hope to find important artifacts and clues similar to those found at nearby Smith’s Cove.

This season Drayton is using a large, 13-inch wide detecting coil that is hot both above and below the coil, to a distance of 2 feet. After getting an intriguing signal Barkhouse shovels the spot and they find an inconsequential shotgun shell. “Blast!” says Drayton who had hoped it was a coin.

Later he uses a pinpointer detecting tool and finds something he declares fantastic, an old button. It is silver with a starburst design. According to Drayton it would have been a status symbol, “a dandy button,” and places it in the 1650 to 1750 time range.

“Buttons are not uncommon finds,” he notes, but the particulars of this one could present significant clues as it doesn’t match up with other buttons they’ve found. It’s not a top pocket find but it is a tag and bag find for archeologist Laird Niven to evaluate.

Later, historian Doug Crowell uses a digital microscope to magnify the button and Niven estimates it is from the 1720 to 1770 time period. Rick declares it, “a wow,” and eventually Kelly Bourassa, a historical artifact expert, is called upon to examine it. He declares it is heavily corroded with a stamped design on the front and a raised foot on the back. He cannot say with certainty if it is a military coat button, but dates it to between 1726 to 1776. This coincides with the age of the slipway and U-shaped structure, and as such represents a potentially valuable clue.

Drayton and Alex Lagina later find a small ladies’ hand mirror at Isaac’s Point. Drayton believes it to be Victorian, and notes it indicates the presence of women on the island, not just male searchers. They also uncover an iron spike whose appearance is deemed incredible because it is unlike any other found to date.

Gary Drayton holding the spike
Gary Drayton holding the newly discovered spike. Pic credit: History

When the spike is shown to blacksmithing expert Carmen Legge he states it is a hand-point tool used to carve rock or stone. Could this mean there is a connection to stone masons? There are multiple Freemason images on the island and Rick speculates it could be tied into Freemasons and their predecessors the Knights Templar.

Legge notes that it likely contains manganese which was used in such tools as far back as the 9th century.

Blacksmith Carmen Legge examines the spike
Blacksmith Carmen Legge examines the spike. Pic credit: History

Rick is very excited that this could mean something very important happened on Oak Island and later tells the team that the hand-point chisel is a stone mason tool which leads to theorizing that it could have been used on the 90-foot stone.

At any rate, Marty theorizes it could be a friend of the cross, and Rick observes, “we can’t help but marvel at what we found.”

Meanwhile the team check in on progress at Smith’s Cove where Irving Equipment Limited will build a 125-foot extension in the current cofferdam wall. They hope to find something at the end of the slipway, and the extension will give the team an additional 6,000 square feet to explore.

Is this the year the team strike treasure and honor Dan’s legacy by solving the centuries old mystery once and for all? Stay tuned!

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c

Tanya is a freelance writer, therapist and educator. The L.A. native was born at General Hospital, foreshadowing her obsession with writing about soaps, something that makes her... read more


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