The Curse of Oak Island: Season 6, Episode 10- Fingers Made of Stone
The following is a Plot Summary and Analysis of Season 6, Episode 10 of the History Channel’s TV series The Curse of Oak Island.
The Lagina brothers visit Smith’s Cove, where Billy Gerhardt, Terry Matheson, and Laird Niven have fully uncovered the mysterious underground wall discovered the previous episode. Niven tells the brothers his theory regarding the structure’s formation, saying, “Basically, they crudely tapered the boards, drove them into the C horizon [the substratum, or layer of unweathered rocks beneath the subsoil], ‘til they kind of curled up and stopped.” Matheson then proposes that “somebody dug on the shoreward side of this structure” and tried to pack its base and sides with clay.
In an interview, Marty Lagina expresses frustration at this new discovery, remarking: “These walls don’t appear to be consistent in material, they don’t appear to be consistent in construction, [and] they don’t give away, in an obvious sense, what on earth their purpose was.” Rick Lagina, however, remains optimistic, stating that they might find additional clues in Smith’s Cove which might help to shed some light on this new mystery.
Later, Alex Lagina, Doug Crowell, and Paul Troutman drive to the Lordly House in Chester, Nova Scotia- a museum dedicated to the preservation of local heritage. There, they gain access to the museum’s documents on Oak Island and begin to read through them. Troutman quickly unearths a letter written by Gilbert Hedden (a former Oak Island treasure hunter) to his lawyer, R.V. Harris, in 1936, in which he describes his discovery of an underground wooden structure in Smith’s Cove. In his letter, Hedden includes a diagram of the structure, which bears inscriptions of Roman numerals similar to the U-shaped structure.
Doug Crowell then announces that he discovered an article in the February 19, 1863 issue of the Yarmouth Herald which describes the “finger drains” discovered by the Truro Company in 1850, which some suspect were created to divert seawater into the Smith’s Cove flood tunnel. According to the article:
“… five small drains were discovered on the shore due east of the money pit, below high water mark; these drains were each sixty-six feet long, the outer ends of these two outside drains were exactly sixty-six feet apart, and the whole five converged to a point four feet wide, thus forming (between the outside ends of the two outer ones, and the point from which they all radiated) an equilateral triangle.”
Crowell remarks that these finger drains would fit inside the U-shaped structure, and suggests that the U-shaped structure constitutes the remains of a cofferdam used by either the box drains’ original builders or by treasure hunters who attempted to dismantle them.
The Yarmouth Herald article continues thus:
“These drains were all built upon beach stones, carefully laid down for the space of one-fourth of an acre or more, and were made by placing two flat stones on their edges, open at the bottom and enclosed at the top; against the ends of these, two more were placed in like manner, and so on for the whole three hundred and thirty feet; wherever there was a joint in the stones, one was laid across, protecting the joint, and the whole was covered over with a foreign grass, like the inside of a cocoa nut [sic] husk.”
Later, the Oak Island crew congregates at the Mug & Anchor Pub in Mahone Bay. Doug Crowell relates the recent discovery of the 1863 newspaper article, whereupon Marty Lagina affirms that the article’s description of the finger drains being 66 feet apart corresponds with the dimensions of the U-shaped structure, which measures “20 metres [65.6 feet] across the leading edge”. Crowell then relates the article’s description of the finger drains, and suggests that if they find an abundance of flat stones at Smith’s Cove, they may constitute the remains of finger drains which were dismantled by previous searchers. The treasure hunters agree that further excavation is required at Smith’s Cove.
The next morning, Craig Tester meets with gyroscopic technology expert Tory Martin at the Money Pit area. Martin inserts a downhole gyroscope into DPC-1 (one of the exploratory drillholes which was intended to intersect the Shaft 6 tunnel) in order to determine how straight it is. “When they’re putting these shafts down,” explains Tester in a later interview, “they do deviate quite a bit. [Oil and gas] wells deviate like crazy, and the smaller the pipe is, like they used many years ago, the more it will deviate.”
Following the operation, Martin explains that DPC-1 deviated 8.7 feet east and 4 feet north”. At the 100-foot depth, where Tester anticipated the presence of the Shaft 6 tunnel, the hole deviated 5.3 feet east and 2.5 feet north. Tester expresses some surprise at the degree of deviation and tasks Martin with conducting tests on the rest of the holes.
Later, Charles Barkhouse and Doug Crowell head to Smith’s Cove, where they begin to drain a pool of water which has collected beside the wooden wall. When Crowell voices his curiosity as to the structure’s purpose, Barkhouse suggests that it might have been created in an attempt to block the drains which fed the flood tunnel.
While Barkhouse mans the pump, Crowell observes a triangle-shaped opening between two stones from which seawater appears to be steadily trickling. The historian suggests that this triangular gap evokes the Yarmouth Herald’s description of the finger drains being “open at the top and closed and the bottom”. Crowell calls up Rick Lagina and informs him of the find. Rick comes to Smith’s Cove, examines the rocks, and concurs with Crowell’s suggestion that they might indeed comprise a section of the legendary box drains.
The rest of the team is called over, whereupon the rocks are cleaned off with water. Laird Niven then examines to formation in order to determine whether or not it is manmade. While Niven works, Charles Barkhouse discovers a handful of what appears to be coconut fibre in the depression near the base of the wooden wall. “There’s a whole bunch of it right in here,” he explains. “Like, a level of it”. The treasure hunters agree that the proximity of coconut fibre bolsters the notion that these rocks are indeed part of the finger drains and decide that further investigation is in order.
Later that day, Rick Lagina, Craig Tester, and Dan Henskee accompany gyroscope operator Tory Martin to a copse near the Money Pit area and the Old Well (the “Old Well” being a feature introduced by Fred Nolan in Season 3, Episode 8), where Martin happened to spy a strange stone in the grass. The stone has a flat face pocked with shallow markings and a long groove which Martin suggests might be weathered carvings. Rick Lagina splashes some water on the depressions, which indeed appear to be man-made markings.
That evening, Rick and Marty Lagina, Craig Tester, Terry Matheson, and Paul Troutman meet at the Oak Island Research Centre to discuss Martin’s new discovery. Matheson explains that the stone is metamorphosed grewacke, the second most common boulder on Oak Island (next to granite), and opines that the long groove on its surface appears to have been cut, while the other markings appear to have been chiselled. He further suggests that the stone may have once served as “a decorative piece at the base of a building block”. The treasure hunters agree that they ought to conduct a laser scan of this stone.
Several days later, Doug Crowell and Paul Troutman meet at the Oak Island Research Centre with Rob Hyslop and Ryan Levangie of Azimuth Consulting Ltd., the men who conducted the LIDAR scan of the supposed 90-foot stone in Season 6, Episode 8. Hyslop and Levangie coat the stone’s surface with a thin layer of talcum powder in order to increase its reflectivity before mapping it with their Trimble CX 3D laser scanner.
Meanwhile, Rick Lagina, Craig Tester, and Terry Matheson continue the excavation of Smith’s Cove. Using a backhoe, they quickly unearth three wooden boards which had been standing upright alongside each other similar to the wooden wall nearby. The bottoms of these boards have been fashioned into wedges, suggesting that they had been driven into the earth.
The Smith’s Cove Skid
In this episode, Alex Lagina, Doug Crowell, and Paul Troutman discovered a 1936 letter written by Gilbert Hedden to his lawyer, R.V. Harris, in the Lordly House in Chester, Nova Scotia. In this letter, Hedden described his discovery of a subterranean wooden structure bearing Roman numerals in Smith’s Cove. The treasure hunters suspected that this wooden structure was built by the same people who constructed the U-shaped structure.
Hedden made this discovery, which he believed to be the remains of a wooden skid or pallet, in the late summer of 1936. In his words:
“[Two large timbers] were about four feet apart, roughly parallel, and were buried under about four feet of sand. The timbers were about fifteen inches in diameter at the butt, and were notched for a quarter of the circumference at about every four feet. In each notch was inserted a rather heavy wooden pin. Besides one of them we also found several wooden cross members about four feet long. They had the appearance of having been used as a skid at one time, though nobody at the island had ever heard of them.”
Decades later, Dan Blankenship and David Tobias of Triton Alliance discovered more wooden objects like this which, when put together, appeared to actually be the remains of an ancient cofferdam erected by either the original Money Pit builders or previous searchers.
Contemporary Description of the Finger Drains
In this episode, Doug Crowell unearthed an article in the February 19, 1863 issue of the Yarmouth Herald which appeared to be the earliest written reference to the drains which are believed to have funnelled water into the Smith’s Cove flood tunnel. This article described the stone drains as being “open at the bottom and enclosed at the top”. Doug Crowell interpreted this description as an implication that the drain hole was triangular in shape, and not rectangular, as the term ‘box drain’ (which the structures have often been called) implies. In accordance with this discovery, the narrator referred to the Smith’s Cove ‘box drains’ as “finger drains” throughout much of this episode.
The Finger Drain Discovery
While draining a pool of water at the base of the mysterious wooden wall at Smith’s Cove, Charles Barkhouse and Doug Crowell discovered two large rocks leaning against each other. Beneath the rocks’ intersection was a triangular hole from which water continually leaked. Crowell observed that this hole appeared to correspond with the aforementioned 1863 Yarmouth Herald’s description of the Smith’s Cove finger drains, and proposed that the rocks might indeed comprise a section of these drains. Charles Barkhouse’s discovery of coconut fibre nearby appears to bolster this theory.
Tory Martin’s Stone
Near the end of the episode, gyroscope operator Tory Martin, who was invited to the island to determine the straightness of several drillholes in the Money Pit area, happened upon a strange-looking stone near the Old Well (an Oak Island landmark introduced by Fred Nolan back in Season 3, Episode 8). That flat stone, which Terry Matheson determined to be made of metamorphosed grewacke, bears what appear to be man-made carvings. Specifically, these carvings include a long, deep horizontal line, along with many shorter perpendicular lines carved an inch or two away from the former. Rob Hyslop and Ryan Levangie of Azimuth Consulting Ltd. conducted a laser scan of this stone, the results from which they will likely reveal in the next episode.
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