Searcher Shafts

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Overhead of shafts.jpg

Over the course of 200 years of searching, there have been at least 20 documented searcher shafts, in addition, to probably hundreds of boreholes ranging from 3in to 5ft. Many of these shafts have revealed information about what is believed to be buried below, but none have produced any treasure of significance. 

'Like everything else related to Oak Island- there is no consistency in reporting information. The shaft numbers used for most of this page come from the Lagina group's 'current records, although there are other records that use different numbers. I have cited each case below when a different group uses a different number to facilitate cross-referencing

The Lagina team has very detailed maps of all the work they have conducted, but are holding these pretty close and have not published them anywhere - so specific details of location are only the best speculation.

Blockhouse investigations has reviewed the data on every shaft and borehole on the island and has written a phenomenal article presenting their findings. Part 1, Part 2



Money Pit[edit]

Money Pit (Shaft 1)
Greatest depth93ft (estimated)
Active1861, 1862, 1863, 1897, 1909
CompanyDaniel McGinnis, John Smith, Anthony Vaughan

Shaft 1, more commonly referred to as The money pit is certainly the most popular "searcher shaft" known, and it's role in the mystery purely speculative. It could have been the actual location of the treasure, it could have been designed as part of the booby trap system, or even plenty other uses not yet understood. What we do know is that every attempt at getting to the bottom of it has been unsuccessful for any number of reasons leading to many other searcher shafts being dug. I believe all accounts of the money pit exploration agree that the initial discovery ended at roughly 30ft when the boys realized that excavating any deeper required more equipment and people purely due to the labor of removing the dirt from that depth. 

Onslow Company[edit]

The Onslow_Company is the first official company that was formed specifically to search for treasure in 1804. Consisting of about 25-30 men, they were the first time to excavate the money pit to at least 90ft and experience water entering the pit. There are accounts that talk about the removal of the stone "Springing the trap", but there are also accounts that talk about discovering the stone at the [1]80ft level and continuing down to 90ft before again reaching timbers. [2]Using a crowbar (or long implement of some form) they poked down below the timbers and hit something perceived to be metal and relatively flat at 98ft. Assuming that they had probed into a flooded treasure vault it is most likely this probing through clay that caused the water to start filling the pit. The story goes that the team then took the night off, and didn't return until after church services the following day, or the day after to find the pit filled with water to the 30ft level (which ended up corresponding to the tidal level. All attempts to remove the water were unsuccessful and ultimately led the team to dig the first adjacent pit (Shaft 2).

Truro Company[edit]

When Truro company first started their exploration, they sought to first work in the Money pit area, they erected a platform in the Money Pit at a depth of 30 feet,  just above the water level. Using the platform, they bored 5 holes into the Money Pit.

  • In the 1st hole, they lost a core sampler.  
  • In the second hole, they struck the platform which the previous Onslow Company had found at 98 feet with the crowbar.  The drilling auger went through this upper platform, which was made of  5 inches of spruce wood,  then a 12-inch gap, 4 inches of oak wood, 22 inches of loose metal and 8 inches of oak wood. This was thought to be the bottom of two  “treasure chests” or barrel containers, one stacked on top of the next between two platforms. Then the drill went through 22 inches of loose metal,  4 inches of oak wood, and 6 inches of spruce wood, then into 7 feet of clay without striking anything else. 
  • With the third hole, the same platform was struck again at 98 feet. Passing through, the auger fell 18 inches then came into contact with the side of a cask or barrel.   On withdrawing the auger,  oak splinters such as those from the side of a barrel stave, and coconut fiber were brought up.   The reported distance between these two upper and lower platforms was within 6 feet of each other.     Three links of metal resembling an ancient gold watch chain were also brought up by the auger. 
  • The final two holes were drilled near the inside walls of the pit.  Three pieces of copper wire were also brought up from the 5th hole.  After sinking more exploratory holes in the Money Pit,  John Gammel noticed James Pitblado taking something off the end of the auger and slipping it into his pocket.  When asked about it by Gammel, Pitblado told him that he would reveal it at the next meeting of directors.  Pitblado never showed up at the next meeting.   Pitblado later unsuccessfully tried to buy land on Oak Island.

Oak Island Association (1862)[edit]

  • Cleaned out and cribbed to 103ft
  • Found tools left by Onslow and Truro

Halifax Company (1863)[edit]

  • [3]Cleaned out to 108ft
  • Erected a platform at 90ft level to drill 3in core holes between 1866-1867
  • Boreholes penetrated to 163ft, encountering Spruce at 106ft, gravel at 122ft, clay up to 125ft. 134ft more wood and coconut fiber, and maybe a plank.
  • Loss of wash water was reported during drilling, which could indicate voids.

Oak Island Eldorado Company (1866)[edit]

  • [4]This was the first time casing had been used in an Oak Island drilling program and it ensured that whatever material was brought up on the bit was something found at its original level rather than something that may have fallen into the hole from a higher position.
  • The first hole was started from a platform at 108 feet. It entered near the northeast corner of the put and was angled to the northeast.
    • Spruce wood was stuck at 110 feet, then several feet of course gravel, soft clay, and blue mud.
    • Water mixed with ships of wood, coconut fiber, and charcoal were brought up from 128 feet.
    • At 132 feet there was no water but still pieces of wood and fiber. 
    • Water was struck again at about 140 feet, followed by soft clay and fine sand; then more water at about 150 feet. The next 2 or 3 feet yielded a dry reddish soil that had never been disturbed. 
  • The second hole was drilled from a platform 78 feet and was angled to the Southeast;
  • The third probe began at about 30 feet and slanted northeast. 
  • They were drilled to 103 feet and 160 feet respectively from the surface without striking anything of interest.

Oak Island Treasure Company (1895-1897)[edit]

  • [5][6]Found flood tunnel at 110-114 ft on the east side of the pit
  • In the summer of 1895, Lowden’s men began re-excavating The Money Pit, but they only got down 55 feet inside the old cribbing when once more water drove them out. The work as abandoned until the later part of 1896, when they started again. They were able to drain it with their new pumping equipment and cleared it down to 70 feet before the water became excessive. So the old SHAFT #4 (dug to a depth of 75 feet near Smith’s Cove in 1850) was cleared to 78 feet, at which point water entered it from one of the tunnels built by the Oak Island Eldorado/The Halifax Company group in the 1860’s. But by putting their pump in this pit, they found they could drain the Money Pit, which they deepened to 97 feet.
  • 1897- Oak Island Treasure Company broke through the topsoil and soon confirmed they were now in the original Money Pit.
  • June 9, 1897, digging had progressed to 111 feet in The Money Pit when the workers came upon an uncribbed tunnel 2 ½ feet wide on the east side of The Money Pit. They dug down quickly, noticing that the opening was filled with smooth beach stones covered with a layer of gravel. And as they dug, water gushed through at an ever-increasing rate. They had located the flood tunnel from the sea and Smith’s Cove. Several accounts state that the tunnel was 2 ½ feet wide by 4 feet high. Welling later noted the full height couldn’t be seen because of the increasing water volume rushing into the pit. Blair Says: “It entered the pit under great pressure and finally overcame the pumps, filled the pits (Money Pit and SHAFT #3) to tide level and brought our operations to a standstill.”
  • A drilling platform was set up at 90 feet. Experienced drillers had been hired for the job. Several holes were bored, most of them with a 2-inch drill through a 3-inch steel casing, usually in loose and apparently dis­turbed ground all the way down to 171 feet. Blue clay, which Chappell said had the "characteristics of puddled clay," was en­countered between 130 and 151 feet and between 160 and 171 feet.
  • The first hole was bored through wood at 126 feet. Immediately below that the drill bit struck iron, which it couldn't get through. The workers extracted the drill pipe and found it crushed on one side, indicating that it had only hit the edge of whatever that iron obstruction was. So a 1-inch drill was put down the same hole, and it was able to slip past the obstruction at 126 feet. It then went through blue puddled clay and at about 154 feet struck what the drillers first thought was sandstone, but which was later determined to be cement.
  • At 158 feet the drill hit the same sort of soft metal that had been found just under the wood. The chisel stuck fast in this material and couldn't be turned or driven down, so the drill was withdrawn.
  • Chappell said: "A magnet was run through this material and it loaded up with fine iron cuttings, thereby producing conclusive proof that it was iron we had been drilling on at 171 feet. No fur­ther attempt was made to go through this iron."
  • Details of all holes in table below.
1 2 3 4 5
126'- Hard Iron 126'- Hard Iron 122'- Wood 166'- Iron 150'-170'- Cement
126'-152'- Puddled clay 126'-153'- Puddled clay 153'- Cement 188' Hard clay 175' End 
151'- Cement 153'-154' 7" Cement 157'- Cement    
152'- 5" oak 154' 5' oak 160'-171' Clay    
153'- Soft metal 154'- Soft metal ** 171' Solid Iron    
153'- 4" metal bars 154'- 4" metal bars      
153'- 20" of coin or small metal 157Metal bars      
155' Metal bars        
**This is core where parchment was retreived
  • Parchment orig.jpg
    Among the many clues that have been discovered on Oak Island, one of the most interesting was included in the samples of bored material retrieved from that drill hole between 153 and 155 feet. Putnam had personally cleaned the end of the auger and the samples, as he was later to swear, were never out of his possession until they were examined at the courthouse in Amherst several days later. On September 6, 1897, Dr. Andrew E. Porter, a physician then practicing in Amherst, conducted the examination in the presence of about a dozen witnesses. Most of what he saw con­sisted of pieces of wood and the cement like material. But then he noticed something peculiar about what he first thought was a tiny piece of wood. It was a compact ball with a fibrous edge. He carefully untwisted it and flattened it out. After studying it under a strong magnifying glass he declared that "this is not wood and there is either paint or ink on it." He concluded it was a piece of parchment.  It was sent soon after to Pictou Academy in Pictou, Nova Scotia, and to experts in Boston. The unanimous verdict was that it was a  piece of sheepskin parchment on which were letters written with  a quill pen in India ink. The letters appeared to be either "vi,"  "ui," or "wi" and seemed to form part of some word. The parchment, no larger than a five-cent piece, was kept in Blair's possession for many years before it was given to Mel Chappell, William  Chappell's son.

Old Gold Salvage and Wrecking Company (1909)[edit]

  • [7][8]Cleaned out to 113ft
  • Underwater inspection by divers found evidence of shaft collapse with planks and timbers strewn all over the shaft. 
  • Commenced srilling from 116ft.
    • 116ft-133ft: 17ft of gravel and sand
    • 133ft- 149ft: 16ft of Blue clay
    • 149ft: 6' length of cement at 149ft
    • 149ft-167ft: Yellow clay
  • 27 similar cores were drilled in the same area revealing effectively the same results
  • Based on not encountering the vault described by Chappell, it is believed that he was liekly drilling to the side of the money pit, not directly down inside it, and therefore may have missed the vault.

"Driller" named Baker (1933)[edit]

[9]Although there are not many records of his efforts, The Oak Island Enigma by Leaery records a reference to Baker drilling the vicinity of the money pit and bringing up specks of a silvery substance mised in the clay. This substance is believed to believed to be free mercury, which is not naturally occuring.

Additional explorations

  • 1861- Reopened to 88ft and cribbed
  • 1862- Cleaned out and cribbed down to 103ft
  • 1863- Dug to 108ft
  • 1897- Dug to 113ft
  • 1909- Dug to 113ft

Shaft 2[edit]

Shaft 2
Shaft2 orig.jpg
Greatest depth110ft
CompanyOnslow Company
Sectionalview of shafts.png

[10](1849) Shaft 2 was dug 14 feet east of the Money Pit to a depth of 110 feet.  There are two theories as to why shaft 2 was dug.

  1. The idea of a booby trap was not yet presented, by digging an alternate shaft they believed that they would avoid the natural spring (or whatever was causing the water) and reach the treasure vault from a different direction.
  2. The source of water (still believed to be natural) could be diverted to fill shaft 2, vice the money pit and then excavation of the money pit could continue. 

Unfortunately, they managed to get within a few feet of their objective before the tunnel began to flood, barely allowing the men to escape with their lives and leaving the Onslow Company with two shafts full of water and no treasure. It is still uncertain what caused shaft 2 to fill with water. Had they intercepted one of the theorized flood tunnels, or was the bottom of the money pit so full of water that when they got close enough the hydro pressure pushed through the dirt and forced the pressure from the flood tunnel into shaft 2 as well. Later it was proven that there was free communication between the two shafts, but that doesn't mean that both shafts hadn't independently hit flood tunnels. As you can see from the illustration, based on the location (to the east) of the money pit, I believe it is more likely that the source of water into the money pit, is the sole source filling both as there is no proof of any sources of water directly east.

Image Copyright (used with permission)
Of course it would be too easy if all the records used the same shaft numbers. This drawing from Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition gives different numbers

The Lagina team believes they have finally located shaft 2, which brings them at least 14ft closer to finding the original money pit. 

Shaft 3[edit]

Shaft 3
Greatest depth109ft
CompanyTruro Company
  • [11][12]1850, about 10 feet northwest of The Money Pit.
  • No water was encountered in this new shaft down to 109 feet through red clay. when attempting to tunnel toward the money pit, water burst in and the men barely escaped with their lives.
  • In twenty minutes, 45 feet of water flooded this new shaft. Water bailing was used in these old and new shafts with two Horse Gin’s for about a week, day and night, but this barely made a noticeable difference in the water level.
  • One report states a worker fell into the shaft full of water and this is how It was discovered then that the water filling the pit was saltwater and that this water level rose and fell 18 inches with the tides. This gave searchers the idea that the water source must somehow be connected to the sea. 

Additional Explorations

  • 1897- Dug out to 110ft- Frederick Blair’s notes show that on April 22, 1897 when they reached a depth of 110 feet, they came across one of the old Eldorado/Halifax Company tunnels entering at 108 feet and noticed that all of the water flowing into the pit came through this tunnel. They explored it a short distance and came to an intersecting tunnel at the end of which was a large cribbed shaft extending up into the darkness as far as they could see. Blair says: “Water was boiling up through the bottom of this pit, and it proved to be the real Money Pit. The pit [we] had worked in all winter proved to be the old Tupper pit” (SHAFT #3) dug in the 1850 to 109 feet and situated 10 feet northwest of the actual Money Pit. Several months and a lot of money had been wasted in re-excavating the wrong pit.

Shaft 4[edit]

Shaft 4
Greatest depth75ft
Active1896, 1939
CompanyTruro Company

Based on the discovery in shaft 3 that the water was seawater, the team now believed they could find a way to shut off the source of water by digging a pit in between Smith's cove and the money pit. Their plan was to drive spiles through and thereby stop the further passage of the water. The spot they selected is shaft 4, which they dug to 75ft. When a flood tunnel was not located, they believed they must have miscalculated the location and abandoned this shaft.

Additional Explorations

  1. 1896- Dug out to 88ft

Oak Island Treasure Company (1895-1897)

  • Found flood tunnel at 110-114 ft on the east side of the pit
  • 1895-Cleared to 78 feet, at which point water entered it from one of the tunnels built by the Oak Island Eldorado/The Halifax Company group in the 1860’s. But by putting their pump in this pit, they found they could drain the Money Pit, which they deepened to 97 feet.
  1. 1939- Excavated to 82ft


Shaft 5[edit]

Shaft 5
Greatest depth35ft
CompanyTruro Company

 (1850) After a more careful survey, the site for shaft 5 was chosen, which was about 12ft to the south of shaft 4. It is believed that this shaft did directly intercept the flood tunnel because they encountered a large boulder at 35ft. When this boulder was removed the shaft immediately filled with water to the tide level. They did attempt to drive spiles into this shaft (as planned) to shut off the water, but it was unsuccessful. 
[13]*Note in a 1900 prospectus the depth at which shaft 5 intersects the flood tunnel is 85 feet, not 35 feet. 

2020- Curse of Oak Island: (12Mar2020) Lagina group believes they have found either a searcher shaft or possibly original construction shaft in the uplands in the vicinity of what may have been Shaft 5. Hopefully there will be more information in the upcoming weeks. 

Shaft 5A[edit]

[14]Not all records talk about Truro digging shaft 5A, although those that do identify it to be slightly west of the money pit, and to a depth of 112ft. It is believed that at this depth they started tunneling toward the money pit and yet again had to flee when water and debris flooded out their tunnel. 

Shaft 5B[edit]

[15]Twenty-Five feet east of the money pit, shaft 5B was dug to 120ft by the Oak Island Association without locating anything man-made and was subsequently abandoned. 


Shaft 6[edit]

Shaft 6
Greatest depth118ft
CompanyTruro Company

There is some controversy about the details regarding shaft 6.

[16]Truro Account- After shaft 5, they moved on to shaft 6, which is on the south side of the Money Pit. They successfully dug shaft 6 to 118 ft, and just like the other shafts dug in this area, they attempted to tunnel to the bottom of the money pit. Due to the large number of shafts in close proximity, the area became unstable, and consequently, while breaking for dinner they heard a loud crash. When they arrived back at the pit, they found that shaft 6 was now rapidly filling with water and 12ft of mud from one of the older shafts filled into the new shaft.

[17]Oak Island Association Account-Similar to the above story, but roughly 12 years later, the Oak Island Association is reported to have dug Shaft 6 to 118ft and while tunneling toward the money pit the cribbing in shaft 6 collapsed and the bottom of the money pit dropped roughly 14ft. Prior to the collapse of shaft 6, the money pit was only 88ft deep, and following it was now. 102 feet. It is unlikely that shaft 6 collapsed twice, so the collapse most likely occurred in 1862 under Oak Island Association, not 1850 under Truro, this belief is substantiated by "the digger Patrick" in the Novascotian Sept 30, 1861. The resulting crash expelled a black old Oak timber of considerable girth and 3 and ½ feet in length which was ejected with the mud and showed evidence of being cut, hewed, chamfered, sawn or bored, and a part of a bottom of a Yellow Keg was also recovered from The Money Pit, along with piece of Juniper with bark on and cut at each end, and a Spruce slab with mining auger hole in it.

Shaft 7[edit]

Shaft 7
Greatest depth120ft
CompanyOak Island Association

 [18](1861)Dug to a depth of 25 feet East of The Money Pit with the intention of intercepting the water tunnel, shaft 7 was abandoned at 120 feet after it had missed the tunnel.


Shaft 8[edit]

Shaft 8
Greatest depth118ft
CompanyOak Island Association

[19]According to Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition, there are no records for shaft 8, but does report details. It's unclear to me if the numbering of the shafts differs at this point as the description below does match one of the maps for searcher shafts. 

[20]About 18 feet west of The Money Pit, dug to 118 feet deep. A tunnel 4 feet high by 3 feet wide was driven from the bottom to The Money Pita little below the lower platform [the one bored through at about 105 feet in 1849] where soft clay was found in hope of striking the treasure vault. (This is a shaft often erroneously credited to the 1850 Truro group).

The tunnel was unwisely driven through the Money Pit until it nearly reached the east pipe once again allowing the water to flow in. Three days of continuous bailing with a horse operated pumping gin failed to reduce the water level. When water was again seeping up through the Money Pit a larger water bailing operation was setup by George Mitchell. They drove a tunnel from SHAFT #7 on the East of the Money Pit until this shaft also began filling with water. Then, with a total of 63 men, and 33 horses working in shifts, pumping gins were erected over SHAFTS #7 and #8, and The Money Pit. The bailing system in each of the three holes consisted of four 70 gallon casks that were continually lowered, filled, raised and dumped. This succeeded in almost draining the pits.

The fall of 1861, a cast Iron Pump and Steam Engine were purchased from Halifax, and setup to be driven by steam power at The Money Pit. The Boiler exploded and caused the 1st death on Oak Island of a man who was scalded a man to death, with others Injured. The name of this man is unknown due to the fact that official government death records started in 1864, and the failure of J.B. McCully to record it the company records. The boiler explosion was mentioned in Author Andrew Learmont Spedon’s book “Rambles Among The Blue Noses” about the his visit to the island in 1861, the death was not. The note of death came from an essay by E.H. Owens of Lunenburg had written about the history of the county in 1868. The accident occurs sometime in the fall after September 30th 1861, for which the work was stopped for the winter.

Shaft 9[edit]

Shaft 9
Greatest depth107ft
CompanyOak Island Association

[21](1862)In the spring of 1862 work resumes on the island, and another shaft is sunk 107 feet in depth alongside and connected to The Money Pit. This was to serve as a pumping shaft for the steam-powered pump. The Money Pit was then cleared out and re-cribbed down to 103 feet, at which point the water seeping up from below exceeded the capacity of the pump. McNutt said that while the mud was being cleared out of the Money Pit, the workers came across some of the tools left by the 1849 Truro group at 90 feet, as well as tools belonging to the 1803 Onslow company at 100 feet.

Shaft 10[edit]


Shaft 10
Greatest depth50ft
CompanyOak Island Association

(1863)An attempt was made to cut off the water source near Smith’s Cove by sinking SHAFT #10, about 25 feet Northeast of SHAFT #5, which had been excavated to 35 feet (*or 85ft, depending on which account) in 1850. This shaft was dug to 50 feet and tunnels were driven from various levels until the diggers were eventually flooded out.


Shaft 11[edit]

 (1863)[Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition refers to Shaft 11 as Shaft 10, all details about the location, the discovery of the "pirate shaft" and water intrusion match]. Shaft 11 was dug to a depth of 120ft located 100 Southeast of the money pit. The goal of shaft 11 was to intercept the flood tunnel and allow shaft 11 to fill vice the other shafts closer to the money pit. Unfortunately, they missed the flood tunnel and instead began digging a tunnel toward the money pit. [23]The located the money pit at 108ft just above the water level being held down by pumps in other connected shafts. [24]The workers took this opportunity to crib the money pit between 103- 108ft.

Circular Tunnel[edit]

[25]From shaft 11, workers dug a circular tunnel around the outside of the money pit at about 95 feet, intersecting a couple of the earlier searchers shafts in the process. They also dug a couple lateral tunnels, but their direction and depth were unrecorded.

  • Sometime in 1864 the flood tunnel was struck about the point where it entered the east side of The Money Pit. Samuel Fraser in his letter to A.S. Lowden in 1895 recalled that “ As we entered he old place of the treasure [via a lateral tunnel at 110 feet] we cut off the mouth of the [flood] tunnel. As we opened it, the water hurled around rocks about twice the size of a man’s head with many smaller, and drove the men back for protection… The [Flood] tunnel was found near the top our tunnel.” They had found the man-made watercourse, but they were powerless to shut it off.
  • The constant erosion of the seawater was undermining the walls of The Money Pit, and some of the workers were refusing to enter it. The shaft was inspected by mining engineers who declared it unsafe and advised that it be condemned.

Unknown Shaft[edit]

[26]Oak Island Eldorado may have dug a shaft 175 feet southeast of The Money Pit and run a series of tunnels toward the pit. There is no original record of this work, although in early 1940’s tunnels were found that appeared to date from the 1860’s. By late 1867 the group had definitely abandoned the search and the company was dissolved.   



Cave-in Pit (Shaft 12)[edit]

 (1878)[Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition, as well as the M.R. Chappell Manuscript, Refers to the Cave-in pit as Shaft 11 vice 12] In 1878 Mrs. Sophia Sellers, daughter of Anthony Graves was plowing the field and her oxen suddenly fell into a well-like hole, approximately 3 m (10’) deep and 2.4 m (8’) in diameter.[27][28] [29] 

  • The hole was 106.7 m (350’) east of the Money Pit and approx. 51.8 m (170’) from Smith’s Cove.
  • A heavy wooden tripod was erected over the shaft and the ox was hauled out and the hole was filled with boulders. This hole which is suspected to have eroded, and be directly over the route of the water tunnels leading from Smith’s Cove’s finger drains on the beach, to a convergence on the surface called a “Vertical Shaft”, and then sharply downward to the bottom of Money Pit.

Additional explorations

  • One theory about this shaft was that it was used as a holding pit in the event that the shore flood system didn't work. There is disagreement if shaft 5 hit the flood system at 35ft, or at 85ft- in either case, the theory is that the box drains would feed the cave-in pit, which would then feed the flood system of the money pit even if the shore source was cut off. There are problems with this theory in that there was no structural features found that would prevent the cave-in pit from being found.
  • In 1893, Fred Blair of the Oak Island Treasure Co. removed the loose fill and dug down to 15.9 m (52’) seeing pick marks in the hard clay wall. Water broke through and filled to tide level and the site was abandoned. Blair believed it was an air shaft used during the construction of the flood tunnel from Smith’s Cove to the Money Pit a distance of over 158.5 m (520’)
  • [30]1931, F.L. Blair reports to M.R. Chappell a direct connection between the cave-in pit and the money pit at around 150ft. As soon as 150ft depth was reached, the water level in the cave-in pit dropped raising in the money pit accordingly.
  • [31]M.R. Chappell writes that the pit is believed to be an air shaft for the purpose of ventilation.
  • In Feb 1966 Robert Dunfield used power shovel and hit oak below where Blair had stopped at 15.9 m (52’) and again at approximately 30.5 m (100 ‘). Erosion in the pit prevented further excavation.
  • During the summer of 1966 Dan Blankenship excavated the same area with a crane and bucket down to approximately 26.5 m (87’). The top and bottom of this shaft flared out. When the bucket became trapped at the bottom Dan volunteered to go down to free it. He constructed a steel cage to protect him at the bottom. Shortly after Dan returned to the surface the walls of the pit collapsed. 

Shaft 13[edit]

[32](1894)In the fall of 1894 another shaft was dug 30 feet east of The Money Pit and 8 feet north of the suspected line of the watercourse. Water started entering this shaft at 43 feet, probably via an Underground connection to the flooded tunnel by previous searches. This shaft was then abandoned.

Shaft 14[edit]

[33][34](1897)[Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition also refers to this as shaft 14, so the numbering of shafts appears to be in alignment from this point on.] Based on their findings at the Money Pit, the Oak Island Treasure Company begun a new shaft about 45 feet south of the Money Pit. The intention was to sink it to a depth of 180 feet and then tunnel to the Money Pit at a point well below the iron obstruction encountered at 171 feet in that sum­mer's drilling.

  • This shaft would also serve as a pumping station to help drain the Money Pit and the latter could then be excavated ·down into the treasure chamber. By December the diggers had reached a depth of 95 feet when saltwater began seeping in at the 70-foot level.
  • Overnight the shaft flooded to within roughly tide level. Work on this hole end­ed when a tunnel that had been dug by the 1860's searchers was found only 3 feet away (Unknown Shaft). It was responsible for the heavy volume of water entering the shaft.

Shaft 15[edit]

[35](1898)The Oak Island Treasure Company workers then moved 30 feet southwest of the abandoned pit [36](35ft southwest of Shaft 14, and 85ft from Money pit) and began a new shaft in January of 1898.

  • [37]At 105ft, workers report finding a tunnel believed to have been created by the Halifax company (Note: Halifax company is well known for secrecy in all their work which has led to significant lack of documentation)
  • Work continued until the first of April when, at a depth of 160 feet, a large volume of saltwater suddenly burst in from the southwest side of the shaft and drove the men out. Pumping attempts failed, and it was finally abandoned. 

Shaft 16-19[edit]

[38](1898-1899)Between June 1898 and late summer 1899 four more shafts had been dug (SHAFTS # 16 to #19).

  • These had all been started with the hope of driving them deep enough to tunnel through to the Money Pit’s treasure vault about 160 feet down. 
  • SHAFT #16 was abandoned be­cause of the rocky nature of the soil at 134ft
  • Shaft 17 abandoned at 95ft
  • Shaft 18 abandoned at 160ft
  • Shaft 19 abandoned at 144ft
  • The other three encountered excessive flooding. Moreover, as Blair and Chappell later observed, the water problem wasn't caused only by the two known flood tunnels. It was aggravated by some of their shafts striking lateral tunnels that had been made by searchers in the 1860's. These had created an uncharted labyrinth of underground streams through the eastern end of the island. Some later searchers were to  speculate that Blair and his associates had been a little hasty in as­suming that all of those cribbed tunnels they encountered were the work of previous treasure hunters.
  • Oak Island's original un­derground architect had possibly constructed something even more cunning than a single treasure pit with two flood tunnels feeding directly into it.

Shaft 18[edit]

[39](1898)After obtaining 160ft and water started to flood the shaft, it was noticed that water level in the money pit fell 14ft, implying that shaft 18 and the money pit were connected. It was believed that the quick-sand like sandy bottom on top of the hard bedrock allowed the communication between shafts. (additional info in Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition chapter 7)

Since shaft 18 was not useful for exploration, it was subsequently used as a catch basin for water pumped from the shore in attempt to find the flood tunnels. Although they believed the primary source from Smith's cove had been blocked by the blasting, since water was still a problem, they theorized that there must be another deeper flood tunnel that had not been affected by the blasting. By filling shaft 18 greater than sea level with water, the muddy water from the bottom would be forced back out to Smith's cove confirming the source of water. They were surpise to find that the muddy water did not present at Smith's cove, instead it ended up on the South shore. The exact location was not recorded , but it was noted that it was below the water line at low tide. To confirm what they now believed they had learned a similar test was conducted using red dye. The dye appeared at the same location as the muddy water now presenting an entirely new source of flood water that had to be stopped if digging were to continue in the money pit area. (additional info in Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition chapter 7)

Shaft 20[edit]


[40][41]In 1898, this shfat is located immediately to the west of the money pit, this shaft partly overlapped the cribbing installed by Truro in 1850. At 113ft, water penetrated the shaft so rapidly that it had to be abandoned. The location of it did help to determine the soil makeup of the money pit. The money pit appeared to have been partly hard virgin soil, and partly soft infill. The softer clay ground appeared to be surrounded by gravel which allowed water flow. This layer was easily removed by shovels. 

Shaft 21 (Chappell Shaft)[edit]


(1931)Located slightly to the southwest of the money pit, this shaft was 12ft x 14ft and well cribbed. They were able to dig to 155ft without significant water inflow. 

Several artifacts were recovered during this excavation. 

  • Anchor fluke at 116ft- firmly embedded in the wall of the shaft, 14" long, 9" wide, and 1-1/4" thick. No signs of rust on anchor. This type of anchor was most likely brought to the location by the initial depositors because until Chappel no one had successfully dug to this depth at this location. This artifact was kept in Frederick Blairs house for many years, but it has not been seen since his death in 1951
  • Granite boulder at 199ft- 5ft in diameter beneath it were fragments of wood, spruce and an oak limb
  • Axe at 123ft- Badly rusted head, with 3ft long wooden handle. This axe has been lost over the years, it is estimated to be at least 250yrs old, but no documented basis for this age has been retained. 
  • Pick axe and remains of a miner's oil lamp (still containing oil) at 127ft- This is believed to have been a "poll pick" which was used in the sixteenth century.
  • Various pieces of granite between 130-150ft. 

Frederick Blair believed all these artifacts to have been from early searchers and the explanation for the location found was the collapse of the money pit in 1861. Chappell does not agree with this theory based on the orientation (weighted end up) in which they were found. 

[42]Gilbert Hedden returned to the Chappell Shaft in 1936 and cleaned it out to 150ft. From this depth, he did some lateral probing with a drill rig. Some oak bits were all he found of note. He then extended Chappell shaft to 160ft, but didn't find anything of value. 

Edwin Hamilton (1938)[edit]

  • [43]Drilled fifty-eight lateral holes at various depths
  • Cleaned out Chappell shaft to 160ft
    • Located Halifax tunnel that appeared to lead to Money Pit
    • Believed Chappell Shaft to be 5ft from actual Money Pit
  • Deepend shaft to 167ft in 1939
    • Drilling conducted to 200ft resulting only in oak chips following considerable thickness of bedrock. This is the first time anything below the bedrock was considered as a possibility. 
  • Believed to have located a second flood tunnel at 150ft, 40ft deeper than original flood previously located. This tunnel is believed to have entered from the east (which would naturally lead to Smith's cove as well).
  • Conducted Dye tests in Chappel shaft (more information in chapter 5)

Shaft 22 (Hedden Shaft)[edit]

[44](1937) 14ftwide; x 24ft long slightly Northeast of the chappel shaft. Immediately upon digging, old shaft cribbing was located, and appeared to be in good condition. This shaft was dug to 125ft with borings to a total depth of 167ft. 

  • 50ft: Old drill casings
  • 65ft: Old miner's whale oil lamp
  • 80ft: Old oak stump
  • 104ft: Tunnel measuring 3'10" x 6'4" cribbed with oak and hemlock timbers - believed to have been made in 1866
  • 125'-148': hard sand
  • 148'-157': Oak timbers of various thickness

The Hedden shaft did not intercept a flood tunnel, which indicates that the location of the flood tunnel on many drawings is suspect or that previous exploration has disturbed it so much that it could no longer be identified.

Hedden also found evidence of a slipway in Smith's cove and the stone triangle (recorded here for future documentation - Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition ch 5)

Edwin Hamilton (1939)[edit]

  • [45]Extended Western portion of Hedden Shaft by digging a sixft square shaft from 125ft to 170ft
  • Exploratory drilling in this new shaft identifying stones not native to this area of soil, believed to have been fragments of rock from the bedrock.

Restall Shaft #1[edit]

[46](1963) There is not a number assigned to this shaft to my knowledge. It was dug in search of the flood tunnels to a depth of 24ft

Restall Shaft #2[edit]

[47](1965) Roughly 35ft from the location of his first shaft, Restall dug a new shaft to 24ft again encountering rocks and water. Believing that this shaft may be connected to the one he had dug in 1963 he dumped two drums of coloured gasoline in shaft 2 expecting it to show up in the other shaft. Chappell reports that it was the fumes from the gasoline that overcame Restall causing him to fall in and also overcame the others. This is the only account I have found that tells the story this way. I have consulted Doug Crowell (Blockhouse Investigations), he also has not found any other reference to Restall dumping gasoline in the pit and believes that M.R. Chappell made an assumption as to the cause of the toxic fumes. Those present on that day speak of a foul stench of rotten eggs- not gasoline. It is my belief that the workers would be familiar with the smell of gasoline- so unless whatever restall had used as a colorant in the gasoline had caused some chemical reaction that created a rotten egg stench the toxic gas was likely totally unrelated  to dumping gasoline in the pit, or the report of gasoline is not true. [48]Lee Lamb does not report any discussion of the belief of tunnels connected in Bobby Restall's journal, but I would be interested if there is any other documentation of the digging of this shaft in her or Dunnfield's records.

Shaft 29 (Borehole 10X)[edit]

Borehole 10X was started in the summer of 1970 and is approximately 55 meters (180 feet) northeast of the Money Pit. Triton Alliance hired the Bowmaster Drilling Company, who employed a 15 cm (6 inch) rotary drill to bore down to a total depth of 70 metres (230 feet). Bedrock was encountered at 55 metres (180 feet), and at 70 metres (230 feet) and a cavity was found. While this cavity has become famous for the contents thought to be contained within, it was not the only cavity found while drilling Borehole 10X though. Two more cavities were passed through, above bedrock, on the way. They were encountered at depths of 43 metres (140 feet), and 49 metres (160 feet). When Triton Alliance widened the borehole to allow people access to the depths, Borehole 10X officially became the 29th Shaft on Oak Island.[49]

Triton Shaft[edit]

  • 12' x 6' shaft North of Money pit
  • Abandoned before 110ft due to ground water


  1. A letter written by J.B. McCully of Truro on June 2 1862, and printed in the Liverpool Transcript in October of 1862
  3. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 59
  6. pg 22
  8. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition ch 5
  9. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition ch 5
  12. M.R. Chappell manuscript pg 16
  13. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 53
  14. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 54.
  15. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 55
  16. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 53
  17. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 53 & 55
  19. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 56
  24. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 60
  28. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition pg 62
  30. pg 58
  31. pg 20
  34. (1897)Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition
  36. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition
  37. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition
  39. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition
  41. (1900)Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition ch 4
  42. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition ch5
  43. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition ch 5
  44. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition ch 5
  45. Oak Island and Its Lost Treasure: Third Edition ch 5
  46. pg 81
  47. pg 77
  48. Oak Island Obsession, Lee Lamb pg 225