• Category: Episodic Recaps
  • Written by Rick Ellis

'The Curse Of Oak Island' Recap: 01/28/2020

This season of "Oak Island" has been uncharacteristically packed with discoveries. Some seasons have included a dozen or more episodes that literally centered around digging and not finding anything of either historic or monetary value. But this season has already included the discovery of a previously-unknown structure in Smith's Cover, some mysterious readings from the Swamp as well as the discovery of an old search tunnel which will likely lead the team to the site of the original money pit. Sure, last week's episode was mostly talking about searching and listening to more unlikely theories about what might have happened on Oak Island. But given that the name of this week's episode is "Eye Of The Storm," I'm hoping that means more action and less talk about the proper way to run excavation equipment.

The episode begins with Rick & Marty Lagina in the swamp, attempting to uncover evidence of the submerged stone walkway that was discovered by a diver earlier in the year. But they're under a tight timetable, since they've just learned that Hurricane Dorian is making its way up the Eastern seaboard of the United States and will hit Oak Island straight on in a few days. It's likely to still be a Category One hurricane when it hits, which will cause a lot of the damage to the search areas. 

As the excavator clears the muck from the swamp, Rick spots a large six-sided survey stick. It matches the description of the sticks treasure hunter Fred Nolan found  when he drained the swamp in 1969. He uncovered several rows of the stakes, which were carbon-dated back to the 16th Century. Nolan believed the stakes had been used to artificially create the swamp. A theory which matches up with scientific soil data discovered this year by the Brothers Lagina,

As the excavation of the swamp continues, Jack Begley and metal detection expert Gary Drayton continue to detect the piles of spoils recently uncovered in Smith's Cove. They find another old metal cribbing spike. Which is interesting, but it's also frustrating to the two men, who are surprised they haven't found more artifacts or coins from the men who built the Smith's Cove structures. As I've said before, I believe there was treasure of the island at some point. But it's likely been discovered by one of the 30 or 40 search teams that have ransacked the island over the past 250 years.

Meanwhile, Alex Lagina, Terry Matheson and other members of the Oak Island team are continuing an exploratory drilling operation to trace the Shaft Two tunnel back to the original (and lost for several hundred years) Money Pit area. They continue to find wood in the shafts they are digging, which leads them to believe they're on the right track.

Back in the swamp, the digging continues and they uncover a layer of rocks which may or may not be a walkway. But the area is filled with mud and they dig another trench next to where they are exploring in an effort to drain away some of the water which is making their search more difficult. And hanging over everything is the fear that the incoming hurricane will fill the entire area up with water yet again. 

As work at the swamp continues, Marty makes his way over to the Money Pit excavation site, where the latest core samplings are coming from about 108 feet below the surface, The sample includes a big hunk of wood which appears to have been cut by axe. So might that be old enough to be part of the original Money Pit? Thankfully, while the narration does hype the discovery a bit, there isn't any of the over-the-top speculation that sometimes comes off as insanely conspiratorial. "Wood?....cut by an axe?.....axes that might have been used by the Knights Templar?...

About 20 miles north of Oak Island, Alex Lagina and metal detection expert Gary Drayton are at the Ross Farm Museum, located in the nearby town of New Ross. They've arranged for blacksmithing expert Carmen Legge to examine the cribbing stakes found this year at Smith's Cove, in hopes of learning whether they were used to build the 18th-Century slipaway. Or are they from the construction of a different and possibly older structure? Legge estimates the stakes date from before 1820 and are perhaps as old as the 1600s. He also explains the stakes were probably used to reinforce a wall that faced into the ocean & were essentially an early equivalent to rebar.

Dorian is now less than 24 hours away from hitting Oak Island and the entire team is working frantically to get as much done as possible before the storm hits. As Marty Lagina notes, the storm could cause enough damage to turn the rest of the season into a clean-up operation. And although the team was hoping to fully uncover the mysterious paved stone area before the hurricane hits the island, they are now out of time. So they decide to focus on preparing for the coming hurricane.

After two days of rain and winds from Hurricane Dorian reaching nearly 100 miles per hour at its peak, Rick Lagina and project manager Scott Barlow return to Oak Island to assess the damage. They discover the causeway that links Oak Island to the mainland is passable but damaged. Smith's Cove is wet but not otherwise impacted. But the swamp is once again filled with water & that will take a week to drain once again. Which isn't a big surprise since the area is literally described as the "swamp."

And that's pretty much it. The tease for next week promises all sorts of discoveries, although I've learned from past experience that some of those scenes might not come for a few weeks. Still, they've maybe found the Money Pit, which has been their primary focus since the show began 35 years ago.