By Doug Crowell
In our last blog post on January 22, we revealed that the “crossbow bolts” found on Oak Island, embedded in a log, and purported to be of Roman origin by J. Hutton Pulitzer, are more likely to be logging pike points. Today Blockhouse Investigations hit the road bright and early on a trip to Liverpool Nova Scotia, a town a little further down the coastline from Oak Island. Along the way, we picked up George Johnston, who until recently was the communications director for Oak Island Tours Incorporated. Our goal was to obtain detailed photographs of an antique logging pike that we feel best illustrates the design of the pikes that were likely used on Oak Island.
Why would logging pikes be used on Oak Island? Great question! Simple answer.
A sawmill once operated on the island.
In 1944, Clarence James Beamish bought several lots on Oak island, including the properties of George and James McInnis (descendants of Money Pit Discoverer Donald Daniel McInnes). This gave Beamish ownership of most of the western end of the island, including the part were the Blankenships live now. Beamish established and operated a sawmill on the island, and also built several cabins that people could rent. Triton Alliance (predecessor to the partnership of the Laginas, Tester, and Blankenship) had this to say about the sawmill in a tourist pamphlet, “Welcome to Oak Island”, that they produced:
"Mr. Clarence Beamish built the saw mill in the early 1900's, using reinforced steel to strengthen the concrete pillars. As the bay is very deep, and wide enough to turn a ship around at the end of this island, it was ideal for large ships of the time to bring their cargo of logs to the island. The mill, however, was not popular with the local people who had to float their logs across the bay, then make arrangements to transport the cut lumber back to the mainland. The causeway, of course, did not exist at that time. Mr.Beamish and his family eventually left the island due to harsh winters and settled on the mainland.
Several small cottages were built on the island by Mr. Beamish from logs sawn on Oak Island. Five or six of these cottages were hauled across the ice in the winter by horses and now comprise "Lockie's Cottages" in Mahone Bay.”
We can infer from this narrative that the sawmill was a busy spot, and had to handle many, many logs. Therefore it is not unrealistic to state that logging pikes were utilized on the island. In fact, it is highly unlikely that pikes weren’t used. Which brings us back to the road trip we took today. Arriving in Liverpool, we met up with Eugene and Bob Conrad, two brothers who had worked in their father’s saw mill growing up. Eugene stills owns a few of the logging pikes they used in the mill. It was quite educational discussing the pike with Eugene and Bob.
When asked what a logging pike is used for, Bob responded, “Push, pull, or roll a log”. Sure sounds like something useful around a saw mill.
Then for the question we really wanted an answer to; Are the “Roman” Crossbow Bolts found on Oak Island actually logging pike points? Eugene was quick to answer, “Without a doubt, it is a Peavey Point. The point stuck in the tree weathered better than the end, which likely corroded away from exposure.”
*Note: Peavey is a brand name, but is often used as a general descriptive term for logging pike points.
Eugene’s opinion that this Oak Island artifact is a Peavey Point, is in agreement with the Hants County woodsmen that brought it to our attention this week.
How likely is it that a Peavey Point would pull out of a Pike?
Do these pike points ever get stuck in a log and get pulled out of a pike? “I have personally seen points pull out of a pike”, said Eugene. “Pikes can dry out, allowing the point to become loose”, Bob explained.
In the image above, we take the pike that Eugene gave us (thank you!), and disassemble it so that you can get a better idea of how it is constructed. Note how the collar and bands apply pressure to the wooden handle that the pike point is inserted into. As long as the wood doesn’t dry out, the point is held firm, but if the pike happens to get too dry, there is not enough tension to keep the point from slipping out when the pike is pulled back, leaving the point stuck in the wood. Obviously, on Oak Island, they were moving logs in and out of the water as logs arrived to be milled.
It occurs to us that the pulley found by Rick Lagina and Jack Begley on the beach in the recent episode of Curse of Oak Island may also be from a logging operation.
Referred to as a Logging Skookum. Without seeing better images, or the actual pulley, it is impossible to say.
Bob Conrad made another interesting observation about the Oak Island point. When moving logs around with a pike, there is often repetitive prying motions, which can cause the shaft of the point to bend somewhat. When we examine the Conrad's antique pike, we see a bend in the point's shaft.
The Oak Island Point does indeed exhibit a bent shaft as seen below.
Joy Steele, author of the book “The Oak Island Mystery Solved”, was kind enough to allow us to use an image from her book, which originated from the same Tourist Pamphlet as the narrative about the sawmill earlier in our article. We have added a red circle around the site of the sawmill.
Does the Oak Island Point pre-date a 1940's Saw Mill?
Possibly, but there is a rich history of logging and log handling on Oak Island. Multiple attempts at finding treasure on the island, involved the sinking of many shafts, all of which required timber for cribbing. Work logs in the Nova Scotia Public Archives document trips to Frog Island to cut trees for use in constructing shafts on Oak Island. Vintage photos show logs stacked on the beach, waiting for use. In fact, two of the first settlers, Daniel and Anthony Vaughan (father of the Anthony who co-discovered the Money Pit) owned land on Oak Island and ran a lumber operation in the area. This excerpt from a license granted to Daniel and Anthony to cut trees is evidence of this:
We would like to point out that this document (circa the later 1700s) also exhibits the symbols used to mark trees for the King's use only. The broad arrow is a constant, while the other two symbols can vary. Do we find here a clue to the origin of the strange symbols found on the trees in one version of the Money Pit discovery story?
A Point to End On
Our investigation into the "Roman Crossbow Bolts" has led us to our conclusion that these points are nothing more than logging pike points (Peavey points). While it is easy to believe that they might be military in use (logging points, and points for military use do follow the same basic design), we have cause for logging points to have been in use on the island, with far greater probability than military points and these points exhibit the expected wear and damage experienced by used logging points. One final point. All grantees on Oak Island had to improve their lots in order to keep them. If they failed to make improvements, the land would be given to someone else. Valid improvements were quarrying of stone, infilling of swamp land, and clearing of forests. Every grantee landowner on Oak Island (and the mainland) was obligated to log their lots. Logging pikes were likely as common to find amongst their tools as a hammer or shovel.
Goodnight from the Blockhouse!
P.S. Our sincere appreciation and thanks for the gift of the pike Eugene!
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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