Drilling Down on Columbus Day- The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down; S1E1
The Season 6 premiere of The Curse of Oak Island is scheduled to air on the History Channel on November 13, 2018. In preparation for this, I’ve decided to put together some plot summaries and analyses of the various episodes of the show’s appendant series, The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down. Enjoy!
The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down
Season 1, Episode 1: Drilling Down on Columbus Day
This episode of The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down serves as a recap and analysis of The Curse of Oak Island’s Season 3, particularly Season 3, Episode 9: Columbus Day. It also presents another Oak Island theory involving Freemasons and the Chambers of Enoch.
Diving in 10-X
An off-stage audience applauds as Rick and Marty Lagina sit down with host Matty Blake to discuss Season 3, Episode 9 of The Curse of Oak Island, entitled Columbus Day. After quizzing the brothers on their feelings regarding their roles as leaders of the Oak Island treasure hunt, Blake asks them a number of questions about Harvey Morash and Michael Gerhartz’s upcoming diving operation in Borehole 10-X. Rick expresses the fear and frustration he feels while spectating all 10-X dives due to his complete lack of control. He also reveals that a diver does make it to the bottom of 10-X later that season.
Dave Blankenship’s Near-Death Experience
Next, in a pre-recorded interview, Dave Blankenship relates a near-death experience he suffered on March 31, 1986, while working as a construction steelworker. That day, at Dave’s jobsite, a contractor was tasked with unloading a 5-ton air compressor from a tractor-trailer. As Dave stood nearby, the boom of the crane being used to move the load snapped off, causing the air compressor to tumble down a nearby hill and the crane cable to wildly whip about. The cable caught Blankenship behind the knees and hurled him into the cab of the crane, located 46 feet away. As Dave smashed through the cab’s windshield, the strap on his hardhat pinched off his carotid artery, causing him to suffer a massive stroke. Miraculously, without receiving any significant medical treatment, Blankenship survived, albeit initially in a comatose state. In the interview, he states that the doctors “told mom and dad that I was going to be a vegetable and never get out of bed again. They forgot to tell me!” Shortly after a nurse noticed Dave’s fingertip twitch, the 36-year-old steelworker was admitted to rehab. Although the accident had robbed him of his ability to walk, talk, and perform all manner of basic functions, Dave quickly regained most of his faculties. However, due to nerve damage, the left side of his body remains numb to this day. Another side effect Dave attributes to the accident is his lack of verbal filter. In his words, “I hardly ever swore. Now I swear like a f***ing sailor… If it comes in my mind, it comes out my mouth.”
At the end of the video, Dave joins Rick and Marty on stage. Blake asks the Lagina brothers what it’s like to work with Blankenship. Marty praises Dave’s “refreshing” forthrightness and indomitable grit, calling him “the epitome of perseverance.” Rick echoes his brother’s sentiment, calling Dave a “straight shooter”.
Ask Rick and Marty, Featuring Dave: Episode 1
Next, Blake asks the three treasure hunters a number of questions fielded by fans of The Curse of Oak Island. The first question asks whether the treasure hunters have ever considered enlisting the services of a “spiritualist or some kind of psychic”. Marty replies that they have, in spite of the skepticism he personally harbours towards spiritualism and parapsychology. He acknowledges, however, that Dave Blankenship, whom he respects for his no-nonsense realism, along with Dave’s father, Dan, and another man, once observed a mysterious “ball of fire” materialize in the water off Oak Island and glide towards the shore- perhaps a manifestation of a local ghost ship known as the Young Teazer. Blake adds that other Nova Scotians, throughout the years, have also reported seeing strange lights on Oak Island.
Next, Blake asks the men if it is possible to glean any more information from the mysterious piece of parchment discovered in the Money Pit by the Oak Island Treasure Company in 1897. The Lagina brothers cryptically reveal that they have examined the parchment, and hope to conduct additional tests on it in the future.
Lastly, Blake asks, “What do you suppose you’ll be thinking about all this 30 years from now?” All three men answer that they would be thankful to be alive and “thinking” in 30 years, and agree that they hope to be celebrating a successful treasure hunt.
The FDR Connection
The next scene takes place in the Oak Island Visitors’ Centre Museum, where Charles Barkhouse lectures Jack Begley and Alex Lagina on former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Oak Island involvement. Barkhouse informs the men that FDR’s first treasure hunting endeavors took place in the Bay of Fundy, where his mother had a summer residence on Campobello Island. At the age of 14, he and a friend conducted a treasure hunting expedition on nearby Grand Manan Island, where, according to local legend, pirate Captain William Kidd buried treasure. Later, in 1909, Roosevelt invested in Harry Bowdoin’s Old Gold and Salvage Wrecking Company, an Oak Island treasure hunting syndicate, and retained an interest in the treasure hunt until his death in 1945.
FDR and the Enochian Chambers
Next, Blake interviews Rick, Marty, and William Henry, a Nashville-based writer who specializes in alternative history and esoteric mysteries. Henry, as it turns out, espouses the theory that the nine layers of oak logs reportedly discovered in the Money Pit represent the nine vaults of Enoch, an important figure in ancient Hebrew and Freemasonic lore (a variation of this theory was presented in Season 2, Episode 7).
Henry explains that, according to ancient Jewish scripture, Enoch was a “pre-Flood sage” who had a vision of the Deluge (the great flood described in the Book of Genesis), which would wipe out most of mankind. He also envisioned a series of nine underground vaults stacked upon one another in which he could inter some of mankind’s greatest treasures. In the lowest vault, he envisioned a triangular stone on which the ineffable Name of God was transcribed.
Henry goes on to tell of how a physicist, in the 1970’s, purportedly “contacted” Enoch through mediumistic channelling. Enoch revealed to this man that there were “twelve repositories spread around the planet”, each of them containing sacred artifacts. Oak Island’s Money Pit was once such repository, and Henry believes it contains the Holy Grail.
Upon being questioned by Marty, Henry explains that he believes Franklin D. Roosevelt discovered something of “immense significance” on Oak Island, “perhaps an insight, knowledge, maybe something tangible,” which fuelled his intense interested in the island and its treasure hunt. Henry also believes that whatever FDR found on the island prompted him to delve into mysticism and the occult, and to engage with leaders in these fields like Russian polymath Nicholas Roerich. Henry claims that Roosevelt convinced Roerich to undertake an expedition to Central Asia on his behalf, during which Roerich, perhaps, uncovered valuable information pertaining to Oak Island.
Stone Triangle Follow-Up
Next, Blake sits down with the Lagina brothers, Dave Blankenship, and Craig Tester. This time, he reminds the crew of Oak Island theorist Jeff Irving’s theory, introduced in Season 3, Episode 9, which holds that Oak Island’s treasure was interred by Italian navigator Christopher Columbus’ companion, Spanish Franciscan Friar Juan Perez, on the orders of Columbus. The four men briefly discuss Irving’s theory, the Spanish theory, the late Oak Island researcher Paul Wroclawski’s theory regarding a potential Portuguese/Oak Island connection, and historian Terry Deveau’s analysis of the Overton Stone, introduced in Season 3, Episode 3.
After the conversation, Blake brings up the underwater stone triangle examined in Season 3, Episode 9. Marty claims that, although the results of the sonar scan which initially brought the stone triangle to their attention was “fairly dramatic”, the stone appeared to be natural upon closer inspection, when he, his son Alex, and diver Tony Sampson dived on it. However, he states that Tony Sampson, on his own initiative, swam magnetic north of the stone triangle and discovered a larger stone triangle some distance away. These two triangles line up with the stone triangle which once stood on Oak Island’s South Shore Cove, and with the Money Pit beyond. Marty explains that the stones’ arrangement along a magnetic north-south line presents a problem, as magnetic north is constantly moving, and was almost certainly oriented in a different direction in the past, when the Oak Island treasure was buried. In other words, the stones’ collective alignment with magnetic north is likely no indication that they were placed there by man. However, Marty concedes that hiding a clue underwater would be a very clever way to conceal it.
William Henry’s Theory
William Henry is a Nashville-based author, investigative mythologist, and TV presenter who presents his own Oak Island theory in this episode of The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down, a theory which he elaborates upon in his 2000 book The A-tomic Christ: F.D.R.’s Search for the Secret Temple of the Christ Light.
Henry’s theory is based on an alternative history narrative. In order to contextualize it, we must come to a basic understanding of the accepted history he attempts to revise.
In their 2000 book American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace, politician John C. Culver and historian John Hyde briefly summarize the life of an eccentric Russian polymath named Nilolai Konstantinovich Rerikh, or Nicholas Roerich. Roerich was a painter, writer, archaeologist, explorer, peace politician, ballet costume designer, and philosopher who dabbled in hypnosis, Theosophy, and other Eastern spiritual practices. In 1918, following the Bolsheviks’ rise to power, Roerich left Russia and his immigrated to Finland. Shortly thereafter, he and his family immigrated to London, England, and after that to New York City.
In 1925, Roerich, his wife, his son, and six friends undertook what’s known as the ‘Roerich Asian Expedition’- a five-year trek through Central and South Asia. The goal of this expedition was to establish what Roerich called ‘The Sacred Union of the East’, a Buddhist Russian satellite state situated in the heart of Asia. Although Roerich’s expedition was ultimately unsuccessful, having failed to bring about the utopian ‘Sacred Union’ and resulting in the deaths of five crewmembers due to privation and exposure, Roerich’s remaining crew did end up trekking south to India, where they founded a research centre called the ‘Himalayan Research Institute.’
In 1929, Roerich returned to New York City, where he convinced a collection of patrons to build the 27-story Master Apartments. The first three floors of the Master Apartments, dubbed the Roerich Museum, the Master Institute of United Arts, and the Corona Mundi International Center of Art, respectively, served to house Roerich’s paintings, among other things.
That same year, future U.S. Vice President Henry A. Wallace met Roerich in the latter’s new museum. He was impressed by the man’s knowledge of Eastern mysticism, and immediately became his disciple. His subsequent correspondence with Roerich, in which the two men discussed a bizarre Roerichian breed of metaphysics, was, years later, derisively styled “The Guru Letters” by Wallace’s detractors.
In 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt started his first term as President of the United States, he appointed Henry A. Wallace as his Secretary of Agriculture. The following year- during the first of the three massive, dust-storm-induced droughts which characterized the so-called ‘Dirty Thirties’- Wallace set about organizing a U.S. Department of Agriculture expedition to Mongolia and northern China for the purpose of identifying and collecting grasses which prevent soil erosion. He tasked his “guru”, Nicholas Roerich, with leading the expedition.
Before the year was out, the U.S. Department of Agriculture mission was underway. While the expedition’s biologist and botanists went about their assigned work, however, Roerich, the expedition’s leader, spent his time searching for Shambhala, a mythical Tibetan kingdom alluded to in Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist texts.
In 1935, while Roerich and the U.S. Department of Agriculture team were still in China, a former discipline of Roerich’s approached Wallace and convinced him that his “guru” was a fraud. This revelation, coupled with Roerich’s politically embarrassing and diplomatically destructive antics, convinced Roerich and FDR to persuade the IRS to investigate the mystic’s taxes. The IRS found Roerich guilty of tax evasion and demanded that he return to the United States. Instead of returning to New York for prosecution, however, Roerich pursued a new life in India.
William Henry, the writer who appears in this episode of Drilling Down, has a different take on the story of Nicholas Roerich, Henry A. Wallace, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his book, he makes the case that Franklin D. Roosevent’s intense and enduring interest in the Oak Island treasure hunt stemmed from his belief that the island was somehow connected with the Holy Grail. In fact, Henry maintains, Oak Island was the repository of a collection of Grail-documents- “the secrets of the Holy Grail”- discovered by the Knights Templar in Jerusalem, in supposed tunnels located beneath the Al Aqsa Mosque (the site of the Order’s eponymous headquarters). He believes that the Templars brought these documents to Rosslyn, Scotland, following the disbandment of their Order in 1307. Later that century, the Scottish Sinclair family brought the documents across the Atlantic to Oak Island, where they buried them. Henry speculates that Roosevelt might have discovered some of these ancient documents on Oak Island, which steered him towards the “real location” of the Holy Grail: Shambhala.
Henry maintains that Nicholas Roerich was also interested in the Holy Grail, and that his first expedition to Asia in 1925 was actually a quest to find it. However, this ‘Holy Grail’, Henry maintains, was really the Chintamani Stone, a wish-fulfilling meteorite of Hindu and Buddhist mythology, considered by many to be the Eastern equivalent of the Philosopher’s Stone (a legendary alchemical substance said to turn base metals into gold, and to completely heal the body of whoever consumes a piece of it). Henry believes that Roerich discovered the Chintamani Stone in Shambhala during his first Asian expedition, and left it where it was.
When Roosevelt started his first term as U.S. President in 1933, his Secretary of Agriculture, Henry A. Wallace, informed him of Roerich’s discovery of the ‘Holy Grail’. As Roerich’s findings regarding the Grail’s location were in accordance with his own, he tasked the Russian mystic with returning to Shambhala and retrieving the Chinamanti Stone for the military use of the United States. Roerich did as requested, travelling to Shambhala on the pretense of a U.S. Department of Agriculture mission, re-discovered the artifact, and brought it back to America, where it was instrumental in the creation of the atomic bomb… according to William Henry, at least.
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