The Treasure Hunt
On a summer afternoon in 1795 a teenage boy named Daniel McGinnis was exploring a tiny island off the eastern coast of Canada. He was walking through a meadow of tall grass when he noticed something strange. In the center of the meadow stood a huge oak tree with part of one branch cut off. The ground beneath that branch was lower than the surrounding ground. Daniel knew that pirates had once sailed in the waters around the island. Was this, he wondered, where they had buried their treasure?
The next day Daniel returned to the island with shovels and two friends. The boys began digging. Two feet down they discovered a layer of stones. Under the stones was a hole about 13 feet wide. It was filled with loose dirt. The boys kept digging for several days. Ten feet below the ground their shovels hit an oak floor. They broke through the floor and kept digging. Twenty feet below the ground they found another oak floor. They broke through it, too, and kept digging.
But when they discovered another oak floor 30 feet below the ground, they decided that they couldn’t dig any deeper. They gave up the search and left the island.
Eight years later Daniel McGinnis, now a young man, returned with a group of men to continue digging beneath the oak tree. Day after day the men dug in the hole. One evening, 98 feet below the ground, their shovels hit a large wooden box. The box had to be a treasure chest! Certain that the treasure was almost theirs, the men went home to rest until daylight. When they returned in the morning, there was an unpleasant surprise: the hole had nearly filled with water. The men couldn’t remove the water. Once again, Daniel McGinnis had to give up the search.
Over the years, other search groups came to the island. They all had the same problem: the hole filled with water. Not until 1850 did someone discover why.
In 1850 a man from a search group was eating his lunch on a beach not far from the hole. The man noticed water bubbling up through the sand. He went and got other men from the search group. When they saw the water coming up through the sand, they, too, thought it was odd. The men decided to dig on the beach. What they found amazed them. Under the sand there were entrances to five tunnels. All five tunnels led to the hole.
Later search groups discovered more tunnels leading from another beach to the hole. Engineers
Examined the tunnels. They estimated that 20 people worked two years to build them. The tunnels were cleverly planned. If anyone digging in the hole dug deeper than 95 feet, ocean water came through the tunnels and filled the hole.
Although the water problem made digging almost impossible, more and more men came to dig on the island. The tunnels convinced them that the hole held a great treasure. None of the men found the treasure, however, and six men died trying.
In 1967 a group of investors put their money into a search for the treasure. They brought huge drills, pumps, and other machines to the island. After drilling 212 feet into the hole, workers sent down a video camera. The camera took pictures of three wooden chests and a human hand. But then the walls of the hole collapsed, nearly killing a worker who was in it. The investors decided that the search was too dangerous and gave it up. Then, in 1989, they decided to try again. They raised 10 million dollars for another search. They said that this time they would not stop digging until they found the treasure.
But is there a pirates’ treasure at the bottom of the hole?