The Mystery of Oak Island – Part 4

Restall family and Robert Dunfield (1959–1966)

Robert Restall, his 18-year-old son, and work partner Karle Graeser, came to Oak Island in 1959 after signing a contract with one of the property owners. In 1965, they tried to seal what was thought to be a storm drain in Smith’s Cove and dug a shaft down to 27 feet (8.2 m). On August 17, Restall was overcome by hydrogen sulfide fumes. His son then went down the shaft, and also lost consciousness. Graeser and two others, Cyril Hiltz and Andy DeMont, then attempted to save the two men. A visitor to the site, Edward White, had himself lowered on a rope into the shaft but was able to bring out only DeMont. Restall, his son, Graeser and Hiltz all died.

That year, Robert Dunfield leased portions of the island. Dunfield dug the pit area to a depth of 134 feet (41 m) and a width of 100 feet (30 m) by using a 70-ton digging crane with a clam bucket. Transportation of the crane to the island required the construction of a causeway (which still exists) from the western end of the island to Crandall’s Point on the mainland, two hundred metres away. Dunfield’s lease ended in August 1966.

Triton Alliance (1967–1990s)

In January 1967, Daniel C. Blankenship, David Tobias, Robert Dunfield, and Fred Nolan formed a syndicate for exploration on Oak Island. Two years later, Blankenship and Tobias formed Triton Alliance after purchasing most of the island. Several former landowners, including Mel Chappell, became shareholders in Triton. Triton workers excavated a 235 feet (72 m) shaft, known as Borehole 10-X and supported by a steel caisson to bedrock, in 1971.

According to Blankenship and Tobias, cameras lowered down the shaft into a cave recorded possible chests, human remains, wooden cribbing and tools; however, the images were unclear and none of the claims have been independently confirmed. The shaft later collapsed, and the excavation was again abandoned. The shaft was later re-dug to 181 feet (55 m), reaching bedrock, but work was halted due to lack of funds and the collapse of the partnership. Divers sent to the bottom of Borehole 10-X in 2016 found no artifacts.

An account of an excavation of the pit was published in the January 1965 issue of Reader’s Digest. The island was the subject of an episode of In Search of… which was first broadcast on January 18, 1979.

In 1983, Triton Alliance sued Frederick Nolan over the ownership of seven lots on the island and its causeway access. Two years later, Nolan’s ownership of the lots was confirmed but he was ordered to pay damages for interfering with Triton’s tourist business. On appeal, Triton lost again in 1989 and Nolan’s damages were reduced.

During the 1990s, further exploration stalled because of legal battles between the Triton partners and a lack of financing. In 2005, a portion of the island was for sale for US$7 million.[c Lot Five is currently owned by Robert S. Young of Upper Tantallon NS who purchased it from Frederick G. Nolan of Bedford, NS in June 1996. Although the Oak Island Tourism Society had hoped that the government of Canada would purchase the island, a group of American drillers did so instead.[

Oak Island Tours & The Michigan Group (2005–present)

See also: The Curse of Oak Island

It was announced in April 2006 that brothers Rick and Marty Lagina of Michigan had purchased 50 percent of Oak Island Tours from David Tobias for an undisclosed sum. The rest of the company is owned by Blankenship. Center Road Developments, in conjunction with Allan Kostrzewa and Brian Urbach (members of the Michigan group), had purchased Lot 25 from David Tobias for a reported $230,000 one year before Tobias sold the rest of his share. The Michigan group, working with Blankenship, said that it would resume operations on Oak Island in the hope of discovering buried treasure and solving the island’s mystery.

In July 2010, Blankenship and the other stakeholders in Oak Island Tours announced on their website that the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage had granted them a treasure-trove license which allowed them to resume activities until December 31, 2010. After December 2010, the departments repealed the treasure-trove license and replaced it with an Oak Island Treasure Act. The act, which became effective on January 1, 2011, allows treasure hunting to continue on the island under the terms of a license issued by the Minister of Natural Resources. Exploration by the Lagina brothers has been documented in a reality television show airing on the History Channel starting in 2014.

More about The Mystery of Oak Island in Part 5 of this series.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)