Did Robert Dunfield make off with the Oak Island Treasure?

Thanks to “The Curse of Oak Island” series, like many others I’ve become intrigued [read: obsessed] with Oak island. The increasingly extravagant attempts to extract a fortune based on hearsay are inversely proportional to the dwindling odds of finding anything. Some more brutal attempts by treasure hunters have undermined the structural integrity of the pit and blended various bore holes together.

A particularly notorious period of money pit excavation was the Robert Dunfield era, in which he conducted major earthworks around the location of the pit, and seemingly annoyed the locals to the extent that they may have sabotaged his excavators (source).

The new proposed money pit would be 100 FT in diameter, and will go to a depth of more than 100 FT before narrowing to dig into the treasured chamber.

Excavation issues

The problems with the proposed excavation were threefold

one, digging up such a large quantity of soil and mud was incredibly expensive [costing $120000 over just a 6 month period] to rent heavy duty bulldozers and boring cranes. He was able to acquire investment to meet most of these costs.

two, the pit kept getting soggy whether due to seasonal weather conditions or the flooding problems that occur due to the proximity of the ocean and the alleged flood tunnels which run from smiths cove through the location of the money pit. This caused mud to keep sliding back into the pit, a bit like trying to did a hole in sloppy wet sand.

Scale of operations

Some speculate that there is no way Dunfield wouldn’t have found the treasure due to the scale of his operations.


The new pit was 100 ft in diameter at the entrance of the hole, but then narrowed to the extent that it wouldn’t have necessarily guaranteed finding anything especially as the location of the original nectar sector of the late 18th century was contentious by this point.


Bedrock lies at a depth of 38 to 45 metres (125 to 148 feet) in the pit area. Gold dust on a drill bit was allegedly procured in the 1800’s from reaching a depth of 157 feet which requires drilling through the bedrock. According to Dunfield he only dug to a depth of 140 feet, so if a cache of treasure was somehow below bedrock then he could have missed it. He was using a clam shell bucket which may not have had the necessary maneuverability to probe around the bedrock and into any naturally occurring voids or soil where treasure could be buried.

Escape with the treasure

I also don’t buy that he would have run off with the treasure without telling anyone. That would imply he committed some sort of fraud against his investors, and the adulation and satisfaction from finding the treasure would surely outweigh keeping it to himself. He was also in a syndicate that preceded the Triton alliance and was working to an extent with Dan Blankenship, who was still involved to an extent in Oak Island up until his death not too long ago. It’s not like Dunfield was operating solely by himself.



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