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[EDITOR COMMENT]- The information provided below comes from many sources including OakIslandTours.ca and documents and books retrieved from many websites.  

Oak Island Treasure Hunting Eras[edit]

For the purpose of discussion all the events on Oak Island can be divided into destinct eras as follows:

  • Pre Money Pit discovery- This era covers everything done on the island prior to the boys finding the initial money pit. The dates used for this period are purely speculation based on dating of artifcats found during the years of treasure hunting. 
  • Post Money Pit covers all the events occuring from the initial discovery until the first official treasure hunting began
  • Active Hunting Starts with the Onslow company and takes it to present time


Pre-Money Pit Discovery[edit]

Post-Money Pit Discovery[edit]

1795: Money Pit Discovered [edit]

[1][2]Depending on which version of the story you adhere to, the “Money Pit” or Shaft 1 was discovered the same year John Smith bought Lot 18 in 1795. The island was neither deserted nor were all the co-discovers considered boys. John Smith was 19, Anthony Vaughan Jr. was 13, and research indicates that Donald Daniel McGinnis was 38, it could however have been Daniel Jr, who would have been 16. Alternate accounts include island resident and farmer, Samuel Ball, as a co-discoverer, in place of John Smith.

Active Treasure Hunting[edit]

1804: Onslow Company[edit]

[3][4]Key Events: 


  • The Money Pit was dug by workers past the 30-foot level where there were regularly spaced oak log platforms approximately every 10 feet, along with coconut fiber, two layers of a putty-like substance, layers of small stones and charcoal.
  • At 90-feet, a flat stone with an unusual inscription was found face down. At the end of each day, the workers used a metal rod to test if there was another wooden platform 10 feet below. Late on a Saturday, the testing suggested a platform at 98 feet. Work ended for the week, and when they resumed on Monday the shaft had filled with 60 feet of water. A steam powered pump was brought in but could not handle the volume of water and burst.


  • Shaft 2 was dug 14 feet east of the Money Pit to a depth of 110 feet. Their plan was to tunnel between Shaft 2 and the Money Pit and remove the treasure from below the 90-foot level. 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.

1849-1850: Truro Company[edit]

[5]Key Events :

[1849] [edit]

  • Money Pit cleared out to 86 feet, Water-Flooding, Construction of a platform for drilling at the 30 foot level above water, finding of “metal and wood” upper and lower “chests”,
  • James Pitblado recovered an object from the auger, cleaned it and put in his pocket promising to show it at a later meeting, but he left the island, later attempting to buy the eastern part of the island with Charles_Archibald of Acadia Iron Works.


  • Sinking of SHAFT #3 to 109 feet and then towards The Money Pit. Water flooding into SHAFT #3 and attempted bailing with horse gin’s.
  • Discovery of salt water in the pit, and finding the artificial beach and flooding and system at Smith’s Cove.
    • Built cofferdam to hold back the tide at for exploration, until it was swept out with the tide.
    • Discovered and dug out clay in Smith's Cove, and found five stone lined drains.
  • SHAFT #4 sunk to 75 feet to the suspected convergence point of these drains, but they missed.
  • SHAFT #5 was sunk to a depth of 35 feet, after they removed a large boulder, a rush of water burst in and flooded this pit to tide level.
  • SHAFT #6 was struck on the south side of the Money Pit to a depth at 118 feet, which was driven towards The Money Pit.
  • Men had stopped when they heard a “crash” from The Money Pit, and this shaft had filled with 12 feet of mud and water.

[1854]  [edit]

1861: Oak Island Associate[edit]

[6]Key Events:


  • The Money Pit is re-cleared out again to a depth of 88 Feet.
  • A New shaft (SHAFT #7) was dug to a depth of 120ft, located 25 feet East of The Money Pit attempting to intercept the water tunnel, no sign of the flood tunnel, and was abandoned.
  • SHAFT #8 -feet West of The Money Pit and 118 feet deep.
  • A tunnel 4 feet high by 3 feet wide was driven from the bottom to The Money Pit in hope of striking the treasure vault.
    • This tunnel entered The Money Pit a little below the lower platform [the one bored through at about 105 feet in 1849] where soft clay was found.
    • The tunnel was unwisely driven through the Money Pit until it nearly reached the east pipe, when the water started coming above on the east side.
    • Three days of continuous bailing with a horse operated pumping gin failed to reduce the water level and 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.
    • 63 men, and 33 horses working in shifts with four 70 gallon casks that were continually lowered, filled, raised and dumped.
    • This succeeded in almost draining the pits.
  • A tunnel leading from the West of SHAFT #8 to the Money Pit which was 17 feet long, 4 feet high and 3 feet wide was blocked with clay, two men were sent in to clear it halfway through the tunnel, when they heard a tremendous crash in The Money Pit, and barely escaped being caught by a rush of mud which followed them in to the West pit and filled up with 7 feet [of mud] in less than three minutes.
  • The resulting crash was the upper platform of the Money Pit at 98 feet dropping to a lower level, and the bottom platform dropping from 88 to about 102 feet, or a total of 14 feet.
    • This would suggest that the lower platform on which the chests rested was now down around 119 feet, along with an estimated 10,000 feet of lumber which also fell (board measure) with some of the cribbing of the Money Pit.
    • As a result of the crash, multiple items were ejected from the shaft into the Money Pit
      • A black old Oak timber of considerable girth and 3 and ½ feet in length and showed evidence of being cut, hewed, chamfered, sawn or bored
      • Part of a bottom of a Yellow Keg was also recovered from The Money Pit
      • Juniper with bark on and cut at each end, and a Spruce slab with mining auger hole in it.
  • The Oak Island Association Raises an additional $2,000 to continue their work.
  • In 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 poor record keeping. The accident occurs sometime in the fall after September 30th 1861, for which the work was stopped for the winter.


  • Spring:  (SHAFT #9), Dug to 107 feet 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 recribbed 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, dug about 25 feet Northeast of SHAFT #5, in an attempt to cut off the flood water. This shaft was dug to 50 feet and tunnels were driven from various levels until the diggers were eventually flooded out.
  • The Oak Island Association was now broke, but still determined.


  • Spring of 1863 was limited to uncovering a section of the drains nearest the shore at low tide. Israel_Longworth wrote in 1866: “About thirty or forty feet of the drain was uncovered and removed, but as it did not tend to lower the water in West, or pumping pit in SHAFT #9, about thirty rods distant from Smith’s Cove the superintendent directed that the opened drain should be filled up with packed clay, and he thought this would stop the concourse of the water to The Money Pit.
    • Before the claying process commenced, The water in The Money Pit and West pits was nearly as clear and quite as salt as that in the Bay, but while it was in progress, it became very muddy.
    • After the drain was sufficiently packed, three or four weeks were allowed for the clay to settle and pack before the pumps were started at The West Pit, when it was ascertained that the operation had been instrumental in diminishing the water by one half.
    • However this proved to be only temporary relief as the tides soon washed the clay away.
  • On the theory that the SHAFT #9 pumping shaft wasn’t deep enough (at 107 feet) to efficiently drain the Money Pit.
    • The workers selected a spot 100 feet Southeast of The Money Pit where they dug SHAFT #11 (120 feet deep).
    • The intakes for the pumps were placed on the bottom and a tunnel was driven from a higher level toward Smith’s Cove in the hope of intersection the water network and diverting it into the new shaft. They missed it and gave up, and instead began driving another tunnel toward The Money Pit itself. But work was soon suspended for about three months while the Association endeavored to raise more money.
  • On August 24, 1863 operations had resumed and a tunnel from SHAFT #11 struck The Money Pit at a depth of 108 feet, just above the water level that was being held down by pumps in various other connected shafts. The workers cribbed the area of The Money Pit between 103 and 108 feet. They then dug a circular tunnel around the outside of the pit at about 95 feet, intersecting a couple of the earlier searchers shafts in the process.
  • It appears that one or two other lateral tunnels were dug, but their direction and depth were unrecorded. This labor continued sporadically into the following year, but it was generally found impossible to do any work below 110 feet in the immediate area of The Money Pit without being flooded out. And the treasure they believed was below that.


Sometime in 1864 the flood tunnel was struck at a 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 Association was now even deeper in the red and its backers thoroughly discouraged. 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. The Oak Island Association was finished.

1865: Oak Island Contract Company[edit]

[7]Key Events:


  • No activity on Oak Island for the company.
  • The 90 foot stone slab with encrypted message is removed from John Smith's fireplace on Oak Island and placed in the window of bookbinders Marshal & Creighton in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • The stone is exhibited there to help sell shares in a treasure-seeking company.

1866-1867: Oak Island Eldorado Company[edit]

[8]Key Events:

[1866 to 1867][edit]

  • Another Cofferdam was constructed on Smith's Coves but was destroyed by Storms and the Tide.
  • A drilling program for three holes with a 3-inch diameter casing sleeve was used in The Money Pit, along with pumps to keep the water out. The 1st drill hole was positioned on a platform at 108 feet down in the Northeast corner struck Spruce Wood, then Course Gravel, Soft Clay, and Blue Mud, along with water and chips of wood, coconut fiber and charcoal, and then undisturbed dry reddish soil up to a total depth of 130 feet.
  • The 2nd hole was drilled from a platform 78 feet and angled to the Southeast without striking anything of interest down to 103 feet, along with the 3rd drill hole slanted Northeast, which was drilled to 160 feet, again without striking anything of interest.

1878: The Cave-in Pit[edit]


  • 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. 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 (SHAFT #12) would become what is known as “The Cave In Pit”, 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.


1892-1901: Oak Island Treasure Company[edit]

[10]Key Events:

[1893] [edit]

When Sophia Sellers was plowing the eastern end of Oak Island with oxen in 1878, when her animals fell into a hole, which caved in directly over a point that was suspected to be 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, 350 feet away. This spot may have collapsed due to erosion of the soil. No previous searchers work had been recorded in this area. Referred to as “The Cave In Pit” or SHAFT #12 Oak Island Treasure Company would focus the 1st attempt in this location. The hole had signs of being previously hand-dug before. They excavated down to a depth of 55 feet, until seawater began entering. By the next day, the water was at tide level (about 15 feet from the surface), and could not be lowered by bailing, so it was abandoned.

[1894] [edit]

SHAFT #13 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 abandoned.


In re-excavating The Money Pit, they could only get down 55 feet inside the old cribbing, when water drove them out, and the work was abandoned for the moment.

[1896] [edit]

  • Work started again in The Money Pit, and they were able to drain It out with their new pumping equipment and cleared it down to 70 feet before the water became excessive.
  • SHAFT #4 (dug to a depth of 75 feet near Smith’s Cove in 1850) was cleared to a depth of 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. By putting their pump into this pit, they found they could drain the Money Pit, which they deepened to 97 feet.


  • The 2nd Death On Oak Island occurred on March 26, 1897 while work continued in re-excavating The Money Pit. Maynard_Kaiser of nearby Gold River was being hoisted to the top of one of the pits with containers of dirt, when the rope slipped off the hoisting pulley and he fell to his death. Following the accident, the other workers refused to go down into the pits, forcing operations to be halted for about a week, until they were convinced to continue.
  • They reached a depth of 110 feet in The Money Pit, 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. They had been excavating the wrong shaft (SHAFT #3). Moving 10 feet to the Southeast, they broke through the topsoil and soon confirmed they were now in the original Money Pit.
  • On 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 stand still.” Work was then temporarily halted while the companies Nova Scotia board of management in Halifax to formulate a new plan. The company directors decided that the best place to stop the flow was at Smith’s Cove. Their plan was to setup off charges of dynamite underground near the shore. This, they hoped would demolish the bothersome tunnel for good.
  • Five holes were bored in a line about 50 feet up from the high-water mark at the Cove. They were spaced 15 feet apart. (see 1897 Hole Diagram of these 5 holes and The Money Pit) All but the third hole were bored to about 90 feet without encountering water. They were all crammed with dynamite and filled with water, which served as a plug. When the dynamite was set off the water sprayed more than 100 feet into the air. The third hole apparently bored into the flood tunnel. At 80 feet the auger struck rocks, and seawater immediately rose to tide level. This hole was filled with a huge 160 pound charge. According to Blair, when it was detonated the water in both The Money Pit AND The Cave In Pit “boiled and foamed for a considerable time, and after the disturbance subsided, the oil in the dynamite showed on the water in both of these pits.” While the work at the shore was being completed, another crew of drillers started boring into the bottom of the Southern edge of the Money Pit, which had previously been excavated to 113 feet. With the pumps holding the water level down to about the 100­foot level, a drilling platform was set up at 90 feet.
  • Experienced drillers had been hired for the job, and overseeing operations were William Chappell, T. Perley Putnam, and Captain John Welling. 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.
  • CLAY FOUND AGAIN, CEMENT VAULT, AND METAL Blue clay, which Chappell said had the "characteristics of puddled clay," was en­countered between 130 and 151 feet and between 160 and 171 feet. Puddled clay is a hand-worked watertight preparation of clay, sand, and water. It is similar to putty, and it may have been this material that the 1803 searchers found (and identified as putty) on some of the original wooden platforms in the Money Pit. 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. This cement was 7 inches thick, and underneath it was 5 inches of solid oak. The drill bit was replaced with an auger in order to bring up samples of this wood. Just below the wood was a 2-inch empty gap and then, according to Chappell, the auger "rested upon a substance the character of which no person would attempt to state." The auger was twisted into his material and then carefully with­drawn. The borings were taken off the auger by Putnam who later brought them to Amherst for examination. The samples looked to him like a mixture of mud, cement, and chips of wood; but included was a tiny piece of Oak Island's puzzle. When the auger was withdrawn, it was replaced with the drilling chisel, and this was dropped back into the hole, which was now down to about 155 feet from the surface. Here the drill seemed to be on soft metal. Chappell said it was found that this metal "could be moved slightly thereby forming a crevice or space into which the drill, when in alignment, would stick or wedge." This happened several times, and the chisel had to be continually pried loose. Driving the drill down 4 inches required two hours, after which the boring became easier. But even then the drill would go down only by continuously twisting the rods and apply­ing heavy pressure. And the workers noticed that the material being bored would fill up the hole each time the drill was raised. Blair says they "worked five and one-quarter hours getting down the two feet eight inches" of this material "and the chisel came up as sharp as [when] it went down." The drillers were certain this material was metal in small pieces; similar to that which had been struck in 1849 between 100 and 104 feet in the Money Pit. 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. The conclusion drawn by Chappell, Blair, and the others was that below the oak wood the drill had passed through four inches of metal in bars, or ingots, which were pushed aside by the chisel. Then it went through 2 feet, 8 inches of small pieces of metal, or coins, that sifted back into the hole each time the drill was raised. Below this were more bars of soft metal which, from the way it felt and from the way the drill bit retained its sharp edge, was not iron. They decided to secure this hole by putting casing below 126 feet (3-inch casing was already down to the iron obstruction) and then to bring up a sample of the metal pieces. A 1 -inch casing pipe was lowered through the 3-inch pipe and forced past the obstruction. The iron, however, deflected the pipe away from the course followed by the drill and it struck the wall of the pit in­stead of going down into the cement. The pipe was pulled out and the drill rods were again sent down the 3-inh casing. But they followed the hole made by the smaller pipe into the wall of the shaft. Several more attempts failed, and the passage into the cement and metal was lost. The 3-inch casing was withdrawn and reset for a second hole into the bottom of the Money Pit. This time the drill struck wood at 122 feet. It then went through 7 feet of cement between 154 and 161 feet, and one side of the drill also encountered wood from about 154 to 158 feet. Below the cement the drill was driven through more puddled clay until it hit what appeared to be an iron plate at 171 feet. 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."
  • PARCHMENT FOUND 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. The circumstances surrounding the discovery of the piece of parchment were sworn to by several persons who were present at its initial examination. Blair, in an affidavit, states that he was well acquainted with Putnam ("a man in whose honesty and in­tegrity I would place the greatest reliance"), and that there was no doubt the parchment came from about 154 feet down in the Money Pit. Dr. Porter also later testified under oath that the sam­ple had been handed directly to him by Putnam in the courthouse. It is also noteworthy that all those involved in the 1897 drilling program purchased additional shares following the parchment's discovery and identification. And Dr. Porter, who had had no interest in Oak Island prior to that time, became a shareholder as a result of this tangible piece of evidence having been brought to the surface. While the examiners in Amherst were certain of the identity of the samples of oak wood, there was a difference of opinion over whether the chips of cement were natural or man-made. Samples were therefore sent to A. Boake Roberts & Co. Ltd who determined it was cement, and had the same chemical composition. In October, work started on a new shaft (SHAFT #14) about 45 feet south of The Money Pit. By December the diggers had reached a depth of 95 feet when salt water began seeping in at the 70 foot level. Overnight the shaft flooded to within the 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. [1898]: In January they moved 30 feet Southwest of SHAFT #14, and started a new shaft SHAFT#15. In April they were down to a depth of 160 feet when a large volume of salt water suddenly burst in from the Southwest side of the shaft and drove the men out. Pumping attempts failed and it was abandoned.
  • The 2nd Flood Tunnel on The South Shore feeding into The Money Pit was discovered: In May, the workers decided to try to plug the water entrance in Smith’s cove in order to locate the position of the drains. They put a pump on the south shore and pumped water from the bay into SHAFT #15. Their intention was to fill it above sea level and force the muddy water out through the flood tunnel and the inlet at the cove. They filled the shaft to top and anticipated, the water started falling back to the tide level. But the experiment yielded an unexpected and horrifying result: the muddy water was bubbling out not at Smith’s Cove but at about the low water mark on the South side of the island (The South Shore) about 300 feet South from The Money Pit. The same thing happened the following day when Red dye was poured into the pit. The southern tunnel must have had several inlets, as the muddy water appeared at three widespread locations offshore. It wasn’t known at what level this second tunnel entered The Money Pit, but it was presumably lower than the 160 feet depth at which was encountered in SHAFT #15. They dumped large amounts of rock plaster and clay over and around these presumed inlets at The South Shore, but they failed to stop the flow of water. A proposal to build a cofferdam was rejected as too expensive since the cove on that part of the island is 1,600 feet across.

[June 1898 to Summer 1899]: Four more shafts had been dug at this point to try to get into The Money Pits Treasure Vault at about 160 feet down: SHAFT #16, SHAFT #17, SHAFT #18, and SHAFT #19. SHAFT #16 were abandoned because of the rocky nature of the soil. SHAFTS #18, 17, and 19 encountered excessive flooding also caused by lateral tunnels by earlier searchers in the 1860’s.

[1900]: The company prospectus was updated and reissued to raise additional funds, which were getting low as principal investors were close to personal bankruptcy. Another shaft, SHAFT #20 was dug, flooded and abandoned. In May and June several drill holes were sunk from a platform at the surface of the bottom of the now water-filled Money Pit. Because of the twisted condition of the cribbing only the Southeast corner of the pit could be reached from the top. Drilling down between 116 and 162 feet without encountering anything of interest. By now the company was financially doomed, and creditors were moving in with liens on equipment, and workers demanding back wages. This was the end of 7 years of work by The Oak Island Treasure Company. 9 Years would pass before another attempt would be made on Oak Island.

1909: The Old Gold Salvage Wrecking Company[edit]

[11]Details: [1909]:

We landed on Oak Island August 27, 1909. Our machinery and stores were landed at Smith’s Cove, and we made an examination of the island, guided by the man who had charge of the last expedition and who had located the two tunnels leading to the Money Pit. Not being able to locate the tunnel, we hauled our machinery to the Money Pit; erected derricks and built our camp.. There are two pits side by side, the Money Pit, 5 ft by 7 ft, heavily cribbed to 110 ft, and another pit, 7 ft by 7 ft, built by the last expedition. We found the Money Pit floored over at the water’s edge, 30 ft below the surface, and partly filled with rocks and dirt. The accumulation was cleaned out, the cribbing strengthened in places and the flooring removed.

In sounding, we found an obstruction 10 ft under water. A pump was set at work and the water lowered 30 ft, disclosing a cross-beam in the center of the pit with a platform every 10 ft and ladders from platform to platform. The pump was removed, and with our orange-peel bucket and other gear we broke out the cross-beams, platforms and ladders to 107 ft. Our diver was sent down to make an examination. He reported the cribbing in bad shape and the bottom covered with plank and timber sticking up in all directions. The bucket was again put to work, clearing the pit to 113 ft. As the pit was not cribbed below this point, we decided to locate the treasure with our core-drill and then sink a caisson down to it.

  A core-drill brings up a continuous piece of the material through which it goes, 1 1/2, or more, inches in diameter. We bored in the spot indicated; through 17 ft of coarse gravel and sand; then 16 ft of blue clay, small stones, and sand, and struck the cement at 149 ft, as predicted.
   We cut through six inches, and withdrew the core so as to start clean on the box of gold.  The core showed a solid piece of cement about six inches long.  Our hopes ran high.   We put down holes vertically, and with as wide angles as possible, so that a larger space then the area of the pit was perforate with holes to depths of 155 to 171 ft, and so placed that anything over 2 ft square must have been struck.  We struck cement six inches to ten inches thick at depths of 146 ft to 149 ft, but no traces of boxes, treasure or anything of that kind.  The cement was analyzed by Professor Chandler of Columbia University and found to be natural limestone pilled by the action of water.  We housed the machinery and gear and left Oak Island November 4, 1909.

1912-1914: Oak Island Salvage Company[edit]

[12]Details:  [1912 to 1914]: The company was unable to raise shareholder money, no activity happened on Oak Island during this period.

1916-1918: William S Lozier[edit]

[13]Details: A limited Drilling and Survey program on Oak Island without finding anything, but the survey did note some measurements on and survey map of Oak Island was created.

1921-1922: Edward Browne[edit]

[14]Details: Work was started, by nothing was accomplished on the island.


1931-1932: William Chappell[edit]

[15]Details: No specific details


1933-1934: Canadian Oak Island Treasure[edit]


  • Charted a 460 foot tunnel from the beach at Smith’s Cove to the Money Pit, as well as the creation of 14 boreholes which, as reported to Frederick Blair (holder of the treasure hunting rights), were significant for the following: Shaft 1 - 170 foot in total depth, finding pink sand at 58 feet below, which Blair believed may have been caused by the red dye used in testing water flow prior to 1900. Shaft 2 - Drilled 6 feet 11 inches from Chappell Shaft, finding pink sand, again at a depth of 58 feet below the surface. Shaft 8 - Drilled 14 feet from the Chappell Shaft, finding bits of old oak at 110 feet below, and bits of old china below 123 feet.
  • Shaft 13 - Encountered what was considered to be a 14” thick bulkhead of Oak and cement at 142 feet deep, at which time the drill dropped, hitting decayed Oak at a depth of 169 feet, stopping at the 176 foot level against something solid.
  • Nixon had this to say about their findings in Hole # 13: “The drill broke through timbers at 142 feet and dropped until it hit something solid at 176 feet that sounded like a hollow drum.” In November of that same year, Nixon’s agreement with Blair lapsed, but 21 years later, as Texas treasure hunter George Greene was taking his turn at recovering the elusive treasure, Thomas Nixon was still a firm believer in the Oak Island Treasure.


1935-1938: Gilbert Hedden[edit]

[17]Details: No Specific details


1938-1943: Professor Hamilton[edit]

[18]Details: No specific details


1946: Nathan Lindebaum[edit]

Details: No specific details

1950: John Whitney Lewis[edit]

[19]Details: John Whitney Lewis, a New York mining engineer with 38 years of mining experience, believed he could succeed where so many others had failed. He bought most of Oak Island, from past treasurer hunter Gilbert Hedden, in 1950, and came to Nova Scotia to interview Frederick Blair, Mel Chappell, R.V. Harris, and any other people with island experiences. He applied for a treasure trove license, as he believed Blair’s had expired. This was true, but Blair had reapplied, and was awarded the license again, which continued the impasse between the property owner and the license holder that had developed during the preceding years between Hedden and Blair. Lewis ultimately sold the island to a trust company representing Mel Chappell, and left the island without being able to dig. However Mr. Lewis is noted for the detailed diagrams and information he collected regarding the previous work done in digging and drilling in the Chappell (1931) and Hedden (1937) shafts.


1951: M.R. Chappell and Fred Blair[edit]

[20]Details: No specific details


1955: George Greene[edit]

[21]Details: George Greene, a Petroleum Engineer from Corpus Christi, Texas, representing a consortium of five Texas Oil Companies, spent the fall of 1955 drilling four boreholes on Oak Island. These test holes were arranged in a straight line, at distances of two, six, ten, and fourteen feet out from the North wall of the Chappell Shaft (Shaft # 21). It is remarkable to note that, in the first three holes, Greene discovered Oak timbers every ten feet in his core samples, all the way down to the 100 foot level, which parallels the Money Pit’s Discovery Story. Did this cigar smoking Texan successfully relocate the fabled Money Pit? His fourth hole, at a depth of 100 feet, encountered Oak timber eight inches thick, a void of ten feet, and eight more inches of oak timber, under which was a massive void of forty-five feet in depth. Greene tried filling the void with 100,000 gallons of water, but it all ran away somewhere. Greene had a historic connection to Oak Island as well. He was the nephew of John W. Shields, who was one of the partners of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during FDR’s unsuccessful 1909 treasure recovery attempt on the island. Greene serves as another example of how the Oak Island Treasure hunt has drawn generations of treasure hunters from within the same families. Like FDR, who went on to become the 32nd President of the United States, Greene also believed that the treasure was most likely the missing Crown Jewels of France.

“If there’s anything in the Money Pit, it’s probably the very valuable crown jewels of France, and gold from the French Treasury. These were taken by King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, when they fled Paris during the revolution. They have never been recovered. A great French engineer, who was the lover of Marie Antoinette, came to this country and built the fort at Louisburg. He may have brought the jewels and gold with him and buried them deep in Oak Island!” George Greene intended to return to the island in the spring of 1956 and drill 30 inch access holes similar to what Dan Blankenship eventually did with his 27 inch borehole into 10X. Unfortunately, he never made it back to the island, leaving the tantalizing possibility that he had relocated the lost original Money Pit unanswered.


1958: Harmon Brothers[edit]

Details: No specific details


1959-1965: Restall Family[edit]

[22]Details: No specific details

1965-1966: Robert Dunfield [edit]

Fred Nolan[edit]

Dan Blankenship[edit]

1969-2007: Triton Alliance[edit]

2007: Oak Island Tours (Lagina group)[edit]