Despite the enthusiasm of the Oak Island Treasure Company, the organization's efforts proved despairing even from the start. Initially, when the fledgling association met in Truro to appoint officer positions and generate revenue, the group was unable to raise enough capital to cover the purchase of a pump Harris, Without this essential piece of equipment, the company would scarcely be able to move forward with the expedition. Regardless, the group decided to take aggressive action and began a deliberate excavation in Unfortunately for the crew, they had unknowingly been laboring within one of the auxiliary access tunnels 10 feet northwest of the Money Pit itself.
To make matters worse, the team had dug down to 55 feet before the chamber was inundated with water and work was interrupted Harris and MacPhie, Several months later, the Oak Island Treasure Company was confronted by additional difficulties. In September of , the Attorney General of Nova Scotia informed Frederick Blair that, in spite of the lease agreement, any treasure acquired as a result of their expedition belonged to the Queen, represented by the provincial government.
To encourage continued digging, officials of Nova Scotia agreed to claim only a portion of the riches recovered from the island Harris, The following year, with the assistance of a new pump, the company returned to Oak Island. However, this attempt proved uneventful when, at a depth of 70 feet, the pump failed to keep up with the water flow and work was suspended Crooker, However, the trend toward the mundane was abandoned in when tragedy again visited the island.
On March 26th of that year, a man named Maynard Kaiser was working in one of the many shafts drilled into the terrain.
As he was being hoisted to the surface, the ascension rope carrying Kaiser slipped from the pulley, casting him back into the shaft to his death Fanthorpe, Following the accident, several crewmembers felt convinced that the treasure was either cursed or protected by a malevolent spirit and refused to descend into the Money Pit. Whether or not they were confronting a paranormal guardian, in June of the Oak Island Treasure Company again tried their luck at acquiring the presumed fortune.
After only moderate success in draining the Money Pit, the team followed the lead of their predecessors and relied on drilling to uncover whatever was buried below. Unbeknownst to the company, their findings that day would taunt innumerable imaginations for years to come. According to Lamb, the team first drilled down feet, encountering a five-inch layer of oak before hitting an impenetrable iron surface The men moved their drill one foot from the initial hole and executed a second attempt.
Here, the auger passed through layers of soft stone, oak and a deposit that seemed to consist of loose pieces of metal. Encouraged by the results, the team sent the drill back down the same borehole. At a depth of approximately feet, the drill again came in contact with what the team perceived to be loose metal. Beneath the supposed metal the auger encountered the same iron barrier and could not descend further. When the drill returned to the surface and the team examined the boring extracted from the pit, excitement soon faded. Despite the layer thought to be loose metal, the men only found pieces of coconut fiber, oak splinters and loose debris.
At first, this appeared to be no different than previous attempts. However, upon closer examination, the debris pulled from the tunnel that day would ultimately invite theories once considered outlandish. While the men continued drilling at the site, the extracted debris was transported to a courthouse in Amherst, Nova Scotia. There Dr. Porter subjected the materials to closer examination.
After scrutinizing the Oak Island debris, Dr. Porter made an alarming discovering. Amongst the dirt and rubble, he found an unmistakable piece of parchment. Further distinguishing the fragment was what appeared to be the letters "VI" written on one side of the material Crooker, Eventually the tiny script was inspected by Harvard University specialists who verified its authenticity Harris, Another discovery made during that excavation only came to light many years following the summer of As indicated by Lamb, during that fateful excavation, drill operator William Chappell found traces of gold sediment on the auger after drilling into the Money Pit Similar to James Pitblado, formerly of the Truro Company, Chappell hid his valuable discovery from fellow crewmembers.
It was not until that Chappell's findings would come to light. T he next year, a less lucrative yet equally significant discovery was made. Given the amount of flooding in the Money Pits and surrounding auxiliary holes, excavators believed the tunnels were somehow interconnected, forming a sophisticated labyrinth.
The crew reasoned that by tracing the path of the pigment, they could determine the locations of the various flood channels and ultimately obstruct them once and for all. When the team set their plan into motion, they were astonished to find the dye streaming out from the shoreline at distant points around the island's perimeter. Perhaps most astonishing was that the coloring did not appear in Smith Bay where structures thought to be flood tunnels were located in Harris, Further perplexing the crew was that, after multiple attempts to dynamite the feeder channels, they seemed unable to clog the pathways and prevent further flooding.
Despite the increase in capital and experience the excavators received from the acquisition, success eluded the teams throughout the early s. T o claim that all of the treasure hunters were somehow misguided would undermine the credibility of even an acclaimed United States president. The affluent, Harvard-educated Roosevelt spent that summer off the shores of Nova Scotia, as hopeful to find the treasure as any who had preceded him.
According to written correspondence, Roosevelt nurtured an interest in the Oak Island mystery well into his presidency. In a letter to a friend, the president intimated his intentions to return to the island on Mahone Bay, but was prevented from doing so by the outbreak of war in Europe University Archives, O riginally part of the Oak Island Treasure Company, William Chappell was noted to have found traces of gold on an auger during an excavation.
Although he initially kept his discovery a secret, many years later Chappell confided the details of what he had found to Frederick Blair. In an effort to garner Blair's support as well as his permission to drill at the site, Chappell described his encounter with the gold dust.
Convinced of their impending fortune, Blair signed on with the new expedition under Chappells Limited of Sydney, Nova Scotia Crooker, The two men along with Chappell's brother Renerick, son Melbourne and nephew Claude, began work in Like many before them, the group found themselves with far more enthusiasm than solutions.
The first problem they faced was discerning exactly which hole in the ground was actually the Money Pit. By that year, the site had undergone nearly a century and a half of excavation efforts, marring the island's surface with shaft openings. Mistakenly, the team ended up drilling approximately six feet south of the Money Pit Harris, The duration of the Chappell expedition was short-lived; only active for one digging season.
However, the team was able to make several astonishing discoveries during their brief stay. All between and feet deep in their new shaft, the men recovered an anchor flute sunk into the side of the tunnel, an implement resembling a year-old Acadian axe, a miner's pick and the remnants of an oil lamp with seal oil Crooker, Adding to the intrigue of the site, Mel Chappell also located a triangular formation of stones situated along the south shore of the island.
Individually, each of these findings would be significant, but together, perhaps they provided more insight into the mystery of the island. A man named Gilbert Hedden initiated the next significant effort at Oak Island. While several of his predecessors were qualified and even intellectual men, Hedden had perhaps the best combination of resources to be successful at extracting the fabled treasure.
In this capacity, Hedden grew increasingly familiar with the application of structural steel in engineering. His career also provided Hedden with the financial means to pursue the promise of the Money Pit when his company was purchased by the Bethlehem Steel Company in The steel magnate was convinced that the tunnel contained the fabled treasure of pirate captain William Kidd.
By , his interest had heated to a passion. That year the affluent Hedden purchased the eastern portion of Oak Island and had arrived at an agreement with Frederick Blair securing access to the Money Pit Crooker, To undertake the pumping and excavation, Hedden hired Sprague and Henwood, Inc. Having obtained legal access to the property and the means to excavate the buried treasure, Hedden began his expedition in The results of his team's first digging season were unimpressive. Sprague and Henwood, Inc. Similar to Chappell, the shaft only produced disappointment as the attempt ended with Hedden leaving empty-handed Harris and MacPhie, In , Hedden and his contractors returned to Oak Island.
This time the company would encounter intriguing findings. Burrowing down one of the many auxiliary tunnels pock marking the island, the team stumbled upon a number of fascinating items including a miner's oil lamp with whale oil and unexploded dynamite at 65 feet. At a depth of 93 feet, they unearthed clay putty not previously found on the island. Slightly further down in the tunnel the men made an even more encouraging discovery. At a depth of feet, Hedden's team came across an intersecting tunnel measuring 3 feet and 10 inches wide by 6 feet and 4 inches tall.
Remarkably this chamber was lined with hemlock timbers and may have served as one of the original flood tunnels Harris and MacPhie, Although promising, the elements discovered in did nothing to offset the increasing expense of the excavation. Along with a treasure map resembling Oak Island, the work of fiction provoked readers with irrefutable similarities to the Money Pit narrative. Captivated, Hedden traveled to London to learn the source of the author's information. To Hedden's dismay, Wilkins was surprised to hear of any parallels between his tale and the site in Nova Scotia Crooker, While Hedden maintained his interest in what he believed was pirate treasure, in he halted his drilling campaign to concentrate on business matters Harris, Despite abandoning excavation efforts, Hedden felt that the clues he uncovered during his investigation deserved the attention of British royal and fellow Freemason, King George VI.
According to author Mark Finnan, in Chappell drafted correspondence to his majesty, highlighting the unique importance of the Money Pit on Oak Island S ince its discovery in , the Money Pit has elicited a number of legends and tales to help explain the mystery of Oak Island. Among the stories created by those grappling with the enigma is that the treasure will evade discovery until seven people die trying to capture it.
If this folklore holds any truth, the Restall expedition of the s did the most to fulfill the tragic prophecy. Prior to arriving on Oak Island, Robert Restall had become well acquainted with adventure.
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In fact, not long after meeting and marrying his young wife, Mildred, Restall enlisted his bride in a spectacular traveling show. The act was called the "Globe of Death" and involved the couple whipping around a large steel sphere on motorcycles at speeds up to 65 miles per hour. The daredevils performed throughout Europe in the s before moving their act to Canada.
By , the couple had settled in Hamilton, Ontario and was raising two sons and a daughter Restall, As Mildred Restall described in , once Robert had heard about the Money Pit mystery, it became his pursuit. He set out collecting articles and information on the site, determined to learn everything about the island including the reasons others had failed. After years of building enthusiasm, Restall negotiated a deal with owner Mel Chappell in In exchange for 50 percent of any recovered treasure, Restall was given full rights to operate at the pit.
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Within the month, Restall relocated him and his eldest son to the modest island Restall, Some of this had been borrowed from outside investors while the remainder of it represented the family's own savings. Immediately, Restall and his son set to work. By July of , the two managed to remove water from the main shaft to a level not seen in decades Lamb, That year the rest of Restall's family moved to Oak Island to help in the excavation. Over the next five years, the Restalls dedicated their lives to Oak Island and the pursuit of the fabled riches.
The family lived in two primitive cabins void of running water. Their fresh water was gathered from snowmelt and rain collected in a depression left by a dynamite blast many years before. At times they would visit the mainland for supplies, but would always return to Oak Island driven by Robert Restall's constitution and certainty that he would capture the pirate's bounty Restall, Sadly for Mildred, this unique chapter in her family's history ended abruptly on Tuesday, August 17th, As she recalled, her husband intended to visit Halifax that afternoon.
Restall and his son had been working on digging a new shaft on one of the beaches.
Sometime after PM, as Restall peered over the edge of the tunnel to inspect his work, he succumbed to noxious gas emanating from the pit Restall, Restall then lost consciousness and fell into the watery shaft. When his son, Bobbie, witnessed this episode, he dashed in after his father only to be claimed by the toxic fumes as well. Unaware of what was unfolding, two nearby workers, Karl Graeser and Cyril Hiltz, also rushed in to help.
Both suffered the same fate as the Restall men Lamb, At the close of this fateful day, Oak Island had claimed a total of six people since the mystery began.
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J ust over one month before the tragedy that claimed the lives of four men, Robert Restall signed an agreement with investor and Geologist Robert Dunfield. After Restall passed away, Dunfield assumed control of operations at the island. Rather than make small incisions at strategic locations, Dunfield's approach involved a much more dramatic approach. In fact, Dunfield's first order of business as project manager included using two bulldozers to clear 12 feet from the surface of the Money Pit and spread the removed clay over Smith's Cove as a way to clog any feeder tunnels that might be flooding the main chamber Crooker, In order to transport even larger excavation equipment to the site, Dunfield ordered a causeway be built connecting the west end of Oak Island to Crandall's Point on the mainland.
Completed on October 16, , the causeway stretched feet and consisted of cubic yards of compacted fill Crooker, With the land bridge in place, Dunfield could move operations beyond lightweight machinery. Within weeks, the geologist had brought a ton digging crane to Oak Island and was preparing to excavate at a scale never before seen at the site.
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The month following the crane's arrival, Dunfield and his crew dug in. Assisted by the modern equipment, the team removed a foot deep by foot wide crater from the Money Pit. The effort proved bitter sweet as the team uncovered small shards of porcelain dishware but consistently struggled against the tunnel's collapse as a result of heavy rains Harris, Despite having spent countless hours and dollars excavating the main tunnel, he demanded that the Money Pit be refilled to create a base for a drilling campaign.
Once his men had finished filling the gaping cavity, Dunfield began taking core samples at greater depths.
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He drilled four separate 6-inch holes to a depth of feet into the Money Pit.