Say what you will about "The Curse Of Oak Island," but even in its sixth season, it remains one of the highest-rated shows on cable television. Which is somewhat astounding since the first few seasons of the show ended up being mostly exposition about the island's possible treasure and a lot of expensive searching of the island that didn't seem to find much of financial or archaeological importance. But that's changed in this season and while no substantive treasure has been found yet, there are a lot of strange items and unexpected mysteries being discovered along the way. It might have taken six seasons, but "The Curse Of Oak Island" is finally paying off for both its viewers and the Lagina Brothers.
This week's episode begins where last week's episode ended: with the discovery of a previously unknown concrete wall in Smith's Cove. Located at the end of ancient dock or slipway, the top of the concrete wall would be at least six feet below the surface when the Cove is filled with its normal level of water. There are no historical records of any previous expeditions using concrete and even if they did, how did they construct a concrete wall underwater?
One initial theory by the team is that the wall might have been constructed using a now-forgotten concrete mix that was used by ancient Romans to construct items like aqueducts. That type of concrete was able to be set up underwater, but that theory seems less likely after team archaeologist Laird Niven discovers two plugged rubber pipes protruding from one section of the wall. So we have yet another odd Oak Island mystery that doesn't seem to have any clear or even likely solution.
Later that afternoon, the team reassembles in the War Room to do a conference call with Marty Lagina and Craig Tester. Rick Lagina wants to update the partners on the recent discoveries and try to determine the best way to move forward. No one seems to have any logical explanation for the wall, especially an old concrete with a couple of rubber pipes sticking through. But Marty wonders out loud if it's possible the wall is much older than the pipes and that some earlier searchers had previously discovered the wall and inserted the pipes for some reason. But what would the purpose have been?
The theory does make a bit of sense. In 1850, searchers from the Truro Company first discovered the fabled stone box drains at Smith's Cove. They constructed an earthen cofferdam around the Cove so it could be drained and searched. So was the wall first discovered in 1850 and then altered for some reason with rubber pipes? Of course, the most likely scenario is the one that isn't mentioned: the concrete wall and the pipes could both date back to 1850. Which is still weird, but not as mysterious as "Maybe the Romans built the concrete wall!"
As the excavations at Smith Cove continue, Rick Lagina and Dave Blankenship head to the home of Dave's father, veteran Oak Island treasure hunter Dan Blankenship. They hope he may have some information about the origin of the concrete wall. He has spent more than 50 years searching the island and in the 1970s constructed a huge earthen cofferdam at Smith's Cove. During that excavation, he found several wooden structures. Not surprisingly, Dan Blankenship had never seen the concrete wall and all he knew for sure was that it had to have been done before about 1950. But this mystery - like many others on Oak Island - is complicated by the fact there have been many searches for treasure over the past 200+ years and most of what was done wasn't documented.
The next day the team assembles at the Money Pit site to examine the material that is being removed from the bottom of the H-8 shaft. The hope is that the material will include some clue that will prove they have found the original money pit location or the so-called Chappell Vault. There is about three feet of material to examine, which provides lots of opportunity in a shaft that has previously included everything from old parchments to human bone fragments.
When the first material is retrieved from the shaft, it's a mix of mud, water and debris. The first thing everyone notices is how many big pieces of wood are in the mix. Which leads several members of the team to suggest they may have found one of the edges of the Chappell Vault. It's definitely a reasonable assumption, considering the wood fragments are coming from a depth of 168 feet. As they continue to search the debris, they find more wood and a piece of what looks to be some sort of parchment. And in the next load of material, the discover another fragment of what looks to be paper or parchment.
Later that day, Craig Tester and his stepson Jack Begley join Oak Island historians Paul Troutman and Doug Crowell at the Oak Island Research Center to get a closer look at the recent discoveries from H-8. They use a digital microscope to magnify the objects up to 2,000 times. One fragment seems to potentially be a sliver of leather. And one of the pieces of parchment has splashes of color that could be the remnants of writing.
Then it's another day on Oak Island and the team continues its excavation from the bottom of the H-8 shaft in the Money Pit area. They are joined by Randall Sullivan, who wrote the book "The Curse Of Oak Island." He's just completed a new book, which compiles a number of newly-found historical documents together with a recounting of the 233-year-long search for treasure on the island. Sullivan has brought along copies of his book and he, the Lagina Brothers and Craig Tester go back to the War Room to discuss what he's found. Sullivan is convinced the generally accepted stories about the discovery of the original treasure shaft by three teens in the 1700s is true. He's also convinced the discoveries reported by the Truro Company-the flood shafts, the 90-foot stone, etc.-are almost certainly true. But he has come to believe the work done on the island was too extensive and complex to have been done simply to hide treasure.
Of all the theories about what might have been hidden on Oak Island, the theory that makes the most sense to Sullivan is connected to Sir Francis Bacon. Some researchers believe the renowned 17-century philosopher, scientist, and nobleman came to Oak Island with William Shakespeare's original manuscripts and buried them in a lead box filled with mercury. Sullivan mentions that Bacon once wrote that the best way to instruct people was to create a treasure hunt.
Marty Lagina then asks Sullivan that if he had the chance to do one thing on Oak Island, one swing at solving the mystery, what would he do? Sullivan says he would look for the underwater entrance that he believes is located not in Smith's Cove, but on the south side of the island. He believes there is an entrance that is now underwater but was not submerged 300 years ago when the treasure tunnel was constructed. It's an interesting theory because, in 1980, Dan Blankenship noticed 4 large holes off of the shore south of the Money Pit and nearby swamp. It was his belief that these ice holes, which appeared again in 1987, might be evidence of a second flood tunnel feeding ocean water into the Money Pit area.
Rick, Marty, and Craig head back to the Money Pit, where the rest of the team has been sifting through material from the bottom of the H-8 shaft. They find some material that looks like parchment, except it's colored black. They also find a small item which might be another small bone fragment.
And that's it for this week. The promo for next week's episode teases some sort of discovery that at least some of the items they found in H-8 are indeed parchment. And some unforeseen flooding or collapse seems to bring a halt to digging at the Money Pit.
"The Curse Of Oak Island" airs Tuesdays on the History Channel.