The Curse of Oak Island recap: Labor strike halts operations at the Money Pit

Marty Lagina. Pic credit: History
Marty as he, Rick and Craig Tester find out workers have downed tools. Pic credit: History

On The Curse of Oak Island this week the treasure-hunting team led by Rick and Marty Lagina are dealt a bitter blow when work at the Money Pit site comes to a sudden stop due to a labor strike. Will they manage to salvage anything of value this year before winter descends?

Before the crushing news of the worker’s strike undermines the team’s mood, they gather at Smith’s Cove to follow up on heavy equipment operator Billy Gerhardt’s progress in tearing up the crane pad. When a previous dye test was conducted at Borehole C1, the dye showed up in this area, leading the team to think it could be evidence of a convergence of five stone box drains that merge into a flood tunnel protecting the Money Pit area.

Billy has found water in an area roughly one foot below the crane pad, along with some timbers. Rick picks up a piece of wood and says, “it’s definitely something … I would say, keep digging.” Could this be the remnant of an original structure that leads to the Money Pit treasure vault? Marty responds, “let’s keep digging … hope springs eternal … it’s always exciting.”

Meanwhile, metal detecting expert Gary Drayton and Jack Begley head to Lot 25, once owned by former American slave Samuel Ball. In this vicinity Gary previously found lead fragments which may be connected to the lead cross. Will he find something that clinches this connection and helps to solve the 223-year old treasure mystery?

Gary tells Jack that now this particular area has been cleared, “we’ve been finding some good stuff.” When the detector begins to beep Jack shovels the spot and Gary exclaims, “that is a lock!” The fixture he found has an old nail in it and a visible keyhole.

Did this metal object come from a chest belonging to Ball? Or perhaps to soldier and privateer James Anderson, an American who defected to the British side and later escaped to Canada? Anderson sold Lot 26 to Ball in 1788. Last year the team visited a descendant of Anderson’s who showed them one of his sea chests along with a mysterious set of keys. Could this scrap be from yet another of Anderson’s chests?

Elsewhere researcher Paul Troutman, Doug Crowell, and Terry Matheson oversee excavation of borehole G.G.1 in the Money Pit area, prior to the devastating strike that shuts down the entire operation.

Doug Crowell
Doug Crowell at the Money Pit area. Pic credit: History

They examine an old chunk of timber, one that looks different than the twigs and wood splinters seen thus far, and express hope that this means the treasure vault is close at hand.

Rick determines that they have to “let the facts tell the story,” and so it’s determined that the operation must continue.

Soon after this, a load from a depth of 113 feet is brought up and someone excitedly yells, “Wow, what’s that? Is that wood, yeah that’s what we’re looking for!” A substantial hunk of wood has been found, and Rick and Laird struggle to lift and move it. It measures five feet long, and Craig Tester thinks it could be a massive beam. But what was it doing at that depth?

Laird Niven and Rick Lagina carry wood
Laird Niven and Rick Lagina struggle to carry wood. Pic credit: History
Enormous piece of wood
The wood is measured after being retrieved. Pic credit: History

Tester says it could be part of the Halifax tunnel which was reported at a depth of 110 feet. The Halifax tunnel was dug in an effort to reach the treasure vault from the side. But before anything of value could be recovered, a gush of water from a flood tunnel brought an end to the operation.

If this is a piece from the Halifax tunnel, Rick calls it “sad” because it means that they have found only a searcher tunnel. But he notes that, “tomorrow’s another day.”

Later they reach 159 feet, and Laird remarks that there’s not much wood now, and, “the last few grabs had nothing in them.”

“It’s a little bit disappointing,” says Marty. Rick responds, “it’s always, ‘today’s the day … a-ha there it’ll be’ … we don’t have that yet.”

And so the team must come to a decision. Paul notes that time is their biggest enemy, and after weeks of careful research led them to this exact spot, they admit that they have found evidence of previous searchers only. The equipment operator is told to shut it down.

But wait, not so fast! Things can change in the blink of an eye on Oak Island, and within 24 hours, Rich Moats, a colleague of the late Zena Halpern, convinces the team that he can help them find the original location of the Money Pit.

He has an incredible theory about Nolan’s Cross, a figure made of five stones, found in 1981 by Fred Nolan.

No one knows who made the symmetrical cross, or why. But Rich believes that the cone-shaped boulders were brought here by engineers “with ocean navigation capability,” and constructed as an indestructible map. He thinks that none other than the Knights Templar constructed it to point to buried treasure at the Money Pit.

On his laptop he shows the team that if the lines of the cross are extended outward, they intersect leading to four potential Money Pit area sites where treasure might be buried. Rich says, “I strongly implore you to search the earth at Site 3.”

Rick proclaims that Rich has achieved, “x marks the spot on Oak Island,” and the very next day a dig is commenced at Site 3. At a depth of 33 feet a lot of timber is being brought up, but Craig says that is to be expected.

Rick Lagina
Rick talks to the camera during the episode. Pic credit: History

At 104 feet they find a 6-foot hand-hewn piece of wood with divots, notches, and imperfections. Laird comments that this means they are going back a ways in time since wood was hand-hewn prior to the Industrial Age. But is it evidence of the treasure shaft?

Next they find a piece of wood notched at both ends which could have been a support piece. “That’s encouraging … I haven’t seen anything like that,” says Paul. This discovery leads to a meticulous examination of the spoils at the wash table, where Jack Begley and Alex Lagina subsequently find pieces of pottery, but also purple wood.

Last year purple wood was found near Borehole H8, and it was later discovered that the purple stain may have been created with an ancient dye commonly used in the production of important manuscripts during the Middle Ages. So, could this latest find mean that the Money Pit has finally been found?

Hoping to find an answer to this question, the team return to the site the next day but find it ominously quiet. The hammer grab is silent and Craig says the situation, “does not look good.” Marty agrees, “Nobody’s working, we’re in trouble, the men are gone … there’s something going on.”

When he tells the only worker in sight that they want answers, the incredulous team are told that the union crane operators are on strike due to wage issues, and it’s hoped things can be resolved within 21 days.

“For me it’s a bit of a disappointment,” says Marty, “we are running out of time.” But he declares, “We gotta respect the worker’s rights,” and everyone agrees.

The bitter realization that work at the Money Pit area may be over for the year is a hard pill to swallow. Has the island finally won its battle to keep whatever may be buried here a secret?

Be sure to tune in next week and find out!

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

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