by Doug Crowell and Kel Hancock - Blockhouse Investigations
There have been questions posed in the past as to whether or not there was a Windmill on Oak Island. I had never heard of one, nor had I found historical mention of one, but I have now. It appears as if the idea of a windmill was proposed by George Bates, a gentleman perhaps best known for having surveyed parts of Oak Island. He created a series of Oak Island maps, laid out as blueprints, back in the 1970s. In this map, he presents his theory that the works discovered on Oak Island, in Mahone Bay Nova Scotia, are more in line with known dry-docks in the West Indies, in use in early days. So there is no historic proof of a windmill on the island. It exists as a theory, but an interesting theory none the less.
The following narratives are numbered to match the red numbers we have added to the map so that readers can easily match the text below to the text in the labels on the map by George Bates.
Is this the Secret of Oak Island?
Is the famous "Money Pit" part of a pumping station for a former and quite possibly pirates drydock?
The mouth of the La Have river was the headquarters of pirates who resorted there in great numbers at the invitation of the French Governor Brouillon, for about twenty years, beginning in the early 1690's.
Shown above is the method of operation of a drydock as used in the early days. Many of the known facts and findings on Oak Island tend to support the theory. At the same time, however, it should be pointed out that tide water level in the Money Pit was found to be 32 feet below ground level, while the top of the upper chamber is about 98 feet below ground level. Two tunnels are known to have been constructed from the sea to the Money Pit. The first actually discovered in 1897, but known to exist fifty years before that, is about 320 feet long. It enters the pit at the 110 foot level and is 3 feet high by 2 feet 6 inches wide. the second tunnel, larger in size, but only about 275 feet long to the south shore of the island, enters the pit at the 150 foot level. A third tunnel is suspected at the 135 feet level. At least one large chamber, of cement-like construction, is known to exist at the bottom of the Pit. The remains of a "skidway", built long before the coffer dam of 1865 in the Cove, was found in 1937-38. What is the secret of Oak Island? George Bates 1970.
Method of Operation:
Windmill (or windlass) pumps lower chamber dry. Vessel enters drydock, and seaward locks are closed. Water gate to Tunnel No. 1 is then opened. Water in dock flows down the tunnel to the lower chamber, leaving the drydock void of water. Windmill continues pumping water into the upper chamber, from which in similar drydocks in the West Indies, it flows by gravity through Tunnel No. 2 to the sea. Pumping continues so long as there is water in the lower chamber.
Both of the chambers on Oak Island appear to be about 40 Feet high, of unknown length and width as yet. The drydock, if this theory is valid, was probably located on the eastern coast of the island in Smuggler's Cove (also known as Pirate's Cove and Smith's Cove), as Tunnel No. 1 is known to have a definite downward slope from the sea, westerly to the main shaft and lower chamber.
The principle aim, and especially so with pirates, is to get the water out of the drydock so that work on the vessel might proceed immediately.
In view of the known fact that pirates in great numbers made their headquarters in nearby La Have for a period of about 20 years and possibly for much longer than that, the extent and nature of the works so far found at Oak Island appear to be more compatible with the drydock or shipyard theory than that of hidden pirate or even other treasure. This may be the first shipyard in North America.
Section - Oak Pump Casing. Detail No. 1. Iron Band.
Shaft discovered in 1965
Tunnel No. 2
The "Money Pit"
Thick Oak Timber
Windmill - removed, demolished, or destroyed prior to 1795
Main Shaft - discovered 1795
Platform every 10 feet. Supports pump casing.
Upper Chamber - discovered in 1937 but known before then
Tunnel No. 1
Shaft Discovered in 1878
Smuggler's, Smith, or Pirate's Cove.
Dirt and rock fill
Known water tunnel
Lower Chamber - discovered in 1965
Oak Pump Casing. Strenghtened with bands of iron - See Detail No. 1
Known water tunnel
Drydock - Seawall type, extended into the sea - Detail No. 2
Drydock - type recessed in the shore. Detail No. 3
Mr. Bates theory is an interesting one, and his connection to the island via the survey work he did there will likely mean that we will run into his name again. I particularly liked that he suggests a reason for the iron that was found below ground with his Oak Pump Casing reinforced with iron bands, along with the chambers, Oak platforms, flood tunnels, and slipway. What doesn't seem to fit, is the fingers drains. Would they have been deeper if they were used to help drain a drydock?
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
From The Blockhouse
is published by Blockhouse Investigations and oakislandcompendium.ca
in Nova Scotia, Canada
Editors and Chief Correspondents
Kelly W. Hancock, CD
John Wonnacott, P. Eng.
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