The Curse of Oak Island by Randall Sullivan

The Curse of Oak Island by Randall Sullivan

Author:Randall Sullivan [Sullivan, Randall]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780802126931
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Published: 2018-12-11T01:41:40.014000+00:00


When I thought about it later, I was fascinated by how determined the partners in Triton Alliance were to portray Fred Nolan as an interloper, given that Fred had been involved in the Oak Island treasure hunt longer than any of them had.

Nolan was a surveyor living in Bedford, Nova Scotia, and working out of an office in Halifax in 1957 when he first visited Oak Island, just as George Greene’s operations were winding down. R. V. Harris’s The Oak Island Mystery was published one year later, and he had read it “forward and backward, at least a half dozen times,” Nolan told me when I spoke to him in 2003. He had been thrilled to discover that Harris’s office was just a few blocks from his own and began paying visits to the attorney, who seemed to welcome him, even when the surveyor peppered the lawyer with questions about the history of the treasure hunt. Harris would tell people later that he had been impressed with the originality of Nolan’s thinking process.

Nolan said he went back to Oak Island to “poke around,” only to be informed by Mel Chappell that the Harman brothers were about to take over the treasure hunt and that Robert Restall was waiting in the wings behind them. Nolan, who had become fascinated by the survey Charles Roper conducted for Gilbert Hedden in 1937—in particular by the links Roper had found between the stone triangle, the Cave-in Pit, and the drilled boulders—asked if Chappell would mind if he conducted a survey of the complete island, so long as he did it on his own time and paid for it with his own money. Reasoning that he was getting an expensive service for free, Chappell agreed.

What Nolan didn’t tell Chappell was that he had been horrified by the damage to the surface of Oak Island the other man was doing by operating a drag line—essentially a tractor pulling a digging bucket behind it—that tore up everything in its path. Nolan feared that valuable landmarks were being obliterated, which was why he had pressed to conduct a survey immediately.

During 1961 and 1962, Nolan spent thousands of dollars on labor and equipment (and devoted hundreds of hours that his family wished he were putting into his business) to lay out a grid that covered every inch of Oak Island and reference every object that might be considered a “marker.” It would have been much more expensive if not for the fact that he did most of the work himself, Nolan told me, crisscrossing the island with dozens of lines cut through the trees and brush. In total, these stretched for tens of thousands of yards, Nolan said, and laying them out had been “backbreaking work.”

Fred was seventy-six years old in 2003, a short man with wispy white hair and a physique that might generously be described as spare. He was more sturdy-looking in photographs from the 1960s and 1970s. A flinty-featured fellow who squinted suspiciously beneath the brim of the tweedy porkpie hat he favored, he was never caught on camera smiling.


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